If you've ever driven into Minneapolis from the south or southwest, chances are high that you've driven over the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and didn't realize it. The park is divided into several units along the Minnesota River with the main visitor center in Bloomington not far from the Mall of America. When you arrive, it may be hard to believe this lush natural scenery is hidden in such an urban area, though the proximity of the airport and major highways means you can never escape the din of the city. There is no camping available in the park, but the location in the middle of the Twin Cities means there is a wealth of lodging options. Be sure to check the conditions at the park by clicking the link to the official website before you go because the land is subject to flooding.
Each of the units features some sort of hiking trail, though some are more extensive than others. Head to the Long Meadow Lake Unit to see the main visitor center and hike a short trail into the valley or create a longer loop trail. The Louisville Swamp Unit is another good place for hiking, though recent floods have damaged some trails. This park is so large that you will have to visit many times to hike every unit.