Quaking Bog

Theodore Wirth Park, Minnesota

Trip Date: Friday, August 4th, 2017
Last Updated: Monday, May 20th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.5 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

Theodore Wirth Park is like the Central Park of Minneapolis (for reference, it is about 90% of the size of Central Park). This large urban park offers a wide array of recreational activities, from disc golf to mountain biking to archery. There is something for everyone here. On the southern end of the park a short distance from the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, you'll find Quaking Bog and a network of hiking, mountain biking, and cross country ski trails. While the trip to the bog and back is only a half-mile long, you're free to choose your own adventure on the connecting trail network.

To start the hike, head southwest from the parking area and carefully cross the mountain bike trails. This area is well-signed and you will be able to tell which trails are for bikers and which are for hikers (beyond just looking for footprints or tire treadmarks on the ground). Continue straight for a short distance, the turn right when the trail splits. You'll know you're on the right track when you see the bridge pictured below and a plastic boardwalk beneath your feet.

The start of the boardwalk into Quaking Bog

The start of the boardwalk into Quaking Bog

The bog is amazingly beautiful, and the Minneapolis Park Board has done an excellent job restoring it to its original glory. Even though the word bog might be synonymous with "mosquito breeding ground", when properly prepared, bogs have become one of my favorite environments for hiking because of the fascinatingly unique plants and fungi contained within (see picture below). Enhancing the fun of seeing cool plants is the floating boardwalk that gently bobs up and down as you step.
This mushroom is just one of the unique sights you'll see in the bog

This mushroom is just one of the unique sights you'll see in the bog

After enjoying views of the cattails amidst the hardwood forest like the picture below, complete the short loop through the bog, then cross the bridge back to the main dirt trail you came from. Turn left to return to the parking lot, or turn right if you dare to explore the maze of trails beyond the bog.
Cattails and tamarack on a sunny day

Cattails and tamarack on a sunny day

The trails beyond the bog are less traveled, partially because it's unclear where the trails go. While there is a map on a small sign along the trail, it's too sun-faded to be legible under the cloudy plastic. There are no official maps online either; the closest thing I've been able to find is this ski trail map, which roughly correlates with the hiking trails, but not exactly. In any case, travel at your own risk! The trails on the north half of the Quaking Bog area are well-marked, so I'd recommend those for a longer hike. Unfortunately, the trails on the south half are labyrinthine, and I eventually gave up in frustration trying to complete my loop and hiked back on the mountain bike trail -- I hope the Minneapolis Parks Board publishes a map soon! Despite getting lost, the scenery was beautiful, with overgrown, flower-filled meadows between the dense, dark woods, as pictured below.
Flowers and forest in Theodore Wirth Park

Flowers and forest in Theodore Wirth Park

Quaking Bog is definitely worth a stop, especially if you can bike here on the fantastic trail network in Minneapolis! Such beautiful nature in the middle of a city is evidence of the outstanding park system in the Twin Cities. Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This short hike is perfect for kids, and they'll enjoy bouncing on the plastic boardwalk. You can hike in Quaking Bog all year, enjoying the seasonal changes in scenery without having to travel far from the city. This is a pretty popular place, especially for mountain bikers, so expect to encounter others on the trip.


By Bike
The trailhead is just off the Cedar Lake Trail and has connections to many other great bike facilities. Thanks to the glorious bike network, the majority of you ride can be on trails separate from the road. From Northeast or North Minneapolis, this trail connects with bikes lanes on Plymouth Avenue and Lowry Avenue (the trail might have a different name, but it runs along the side of Theodore Wirth Parkway). From the Midtown Greenway, take the Burnham Trail (there is a lime green fix-it station at this intersection), then turn left at the intersection with Cedar Lake Parkway, cross the railroad tracks, and follow the trail along Cedar Lake. When the trail splits, head uphill on the narrow trail, then cross the street at the light to continue on the trail to your destination. From Downtown Minneapolis or St. Louis Park, take the North Cedar Lake Trail to the Cedar Lake Trail, then head north to your destination. Given the ambiguous and constantly changing nature of trail names, you can check your route by clicking the Directions link to Google Maps below, then select bicycle as your means of transport. There aren't any bike racks here, but there are plenty of parking meters for you to lock your bike.

By Car
Given its central location in the Twin Cities metro, how you get here really depends on where you are coming from. Click the directions link to Google Maps below, then enter your starting point. The parking lot is on the west side of Theodore Wirth Parkway and has a sign for Quaking Bog.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Each space in this small paved lot has its own parking meter. These are the oldschool coin operated type, so make sure to bring quarters! An hour should be more than enough for a hike to the bog and back, but more might be necessary if you want to explore the other trails. There are no amenities at this lot.

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External Links