Sometimes us city-dwellers need a little time outdoors to liven our spirits and boost our moods. Check out these five spots to explore nature Fargo and Moorhead that will get you that outdoor fix.
5 Places to Explore Nature in Fargo & Moorhead
1. MB Johnson Park
MB Johnson Park is one of Moorhead’s little-known outdoor spaces.
While still in the city limits, it feels like you’re driving out into the country as you head north on County Road 3.
The park is sprawling, with many acres of wide open grass, cozy woods, a brand new fruit forest, ponds, the Red River, and more. And since it’s a bit out of the city, it’s nice and quiet.
For the rollerbladers and scooter riders in your family, the park features a nice mile-long paved path.
But if you and your kids want a little more adventure, slip off the pavement into the woods. You will find over six miles of trails through the woods, great for mountain biking and hiking.
Most of these trails go right along the river so you will have lots of tree trunks to scramble over, ducks to watch, and squirrels to chase.
These off-pavement paths hold some special treasures to hunt for, including a cool rustic bridge hidden back among the trees. It’s the perfect pitstop for throwing pebbles and watching sticks float in the river. My kids and dog loved weaving along the twisted paths, letting their legs and imaginations run wild.
Plethora of Wildlife
In just one 45-minute trip we saw a heron, ducks, deer, squirrels, and chipmunks.
Bring some binoculars and let your kids search for unique birds and the once endangered colorful wood ducks. And stop at information markers along the way to read about the habitat.
Even though you feel like you are lost in the woods, the park has all the amenities that makes park going with kids easy: indoor bathrooms, a playground, and picnic shelters.
Know before You Go:
Check out our post on MB Johnson Park for more information!
2. Lindenwood & Gooseberry Mound Park
These two parks mirror each other on either side of the Red River. And because they are so full of fun things to do — big playgrounds for the kids, camping, paved bike paths, and an amphitheater — we often don’t think of them as a great place to enjoy nature in Fargo.
But, if you know where to look, you can pop out of the busy park chaos and find some secret nature hideaways right in the middle of the city.
When you arrive at Lindenwood Park, you’ll see the iconic rust-red pedestrian bridge.
And not just because kids love crossing a big fun bridge, but the secret lies on the other side as you pass into Minnesota.
Just as you step off the east end of the bridge, look to your right and left. You’ll see some dirt paths on each side that quickly disappear into the trees.
We call this a “secret explore” and my kids think they’ve stumbled across some unknown territory. Really, these are mountain bike and hiking trails, but they take you deep into the trees along the river with lots of fun little wooden bridges for kids to cross and jump from.
If you turned right off the bridge, eventually this path will pop you out right at Gooseberry Mound playground. Your kids will think they found a secret park!
If you turned left off the bridge, these trails are a little less traveled and get further away from the noise of the park. We often see mama deer and their fawns on this trail. So, walk quietly and see if you can discover some gentle wildlife.
River Watching Access
Another nice little nature trail in Lindenwood Park can be found on the outskirts of the camping area. Park along the road at the far east of the campground area. You’ll discover multiple paths leading down to the river.
Follow a wide, well-maintained walking path through the trees and explore the little offshoot trails. Each will take you down to the river to fish, throw pebbles, or just enjoy the view.
Both of these parks have ample parking, playgrounds, indoor bathrooms, and picnic shelters.
Know before You Go:
- Directions to Gooseberry Mound Park
- Directions to Lindenwood Park
- Amenities at Gooseberry Mound Park
- Amenities at Lindenwood Park
- Trail Maps
- Tree Tour Map
3. Sheyenne Gardens
I visit Sheyenne Gardens multiple times each spring and most of the time I don’t even buy a thing!
I simply wander the garden center greenhouses, drink in the fresh smells of flowers and potting soil, and discover new plants to fill my pots with.
More than Potted Plants
Beyond just a place to buy plants, this greenhouse offers more nature than you’d expect. When you first arrive, your kids will love to hop through the little stone paths and run under the pergola to sit in the chairs made entirely out of sticks.
Located just north of Harwood, this greenhouse has a nice expanse of property surrounding the greenhouses.
Wander to the west of the main building and explore a cute little pergola, walking the wooden boardwalk through a shady flower garden. Then, peek your head inside the exotic plant house tucked back just down the gravel road.
The staff is always warm and inviting, encouraging browsing and exploring. You may even be greeted by Bella, the incredible sweet and mild pup that lives at the gardens.
If you want to get lost in the sites and smells of every flower and tree imaginable, take this quick drive north and spend an afternoon dreaming among the plants.
Know before You Go:
4. Riverwood Bike Trail
Whenever I post a picture of our ride on this trail by our home, I always get asked,“Where is this cool trail?!”
This simple paved trail will have your kids squealing with delight as their bikes zoom through the shady deciduous tree arches. The trail has many curves and hills to create some fun speed. And with mature trees on both sides right up next to the trail, you travel under a canopy of rustling leaves.
I’ve actually had to tell my kiddos to watch out for deer as they rode. I never thought I’d have to be worried about hitting a deer with my bike, but on this trail you have to keep your eyes peeled.
There isn’t an easy access point to Riverwood Trail, which is what makes it extra secret, It’s often only used by those in the small nearby neighborhood.
So my suggestion to get there would be to pack your bikes and park in the far east lot of Trollwood Park in North Fargo. Take the maintenance road west and connect up with the sidewalk along north Broadway veering north along the Red River. This will take you along a closed road toward a closed bridge. Once you reach the bridge you’ll see the trail begin.
Race the trail all the way to the Riverwood neighborhood. You can turn back here or if your kids can go a bit farther, keep following the trail/sidewalk all the way to Riverwood Park.
Enjoy a pitstop at the playground (which you’ll often get all to yourself) before you loop around and return.
Know before You Go:
- Directions to Trollwood Park
- Directions to Riverwood Park
- The trail is a few miles long, so make sure to bring a water bottle and take a bathroom break at Trollwood Park, as Riverwood Park does not have plumbing facilities.
5. Northern Plains Botanic Gardens
We are so lucky to have the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society curating such a wonderful space to enjoy nature in Fargo. It’s a great place for nature lovers and kiddos to enjoy, learn, and play.
On the property of the old Yunker Farm, you’ll first step into a gated Alphabet Garden. If you have little kids learning their letters, this is an absolute gem!
At least one plant or flower found in the garden starts with each letter of the alphabet. Kids can learn about unique horticulture and go on a letter hunt! The flowers are absolutely breathtaking when in full bloom in late June and July. You’ll find plenty of unique flora and fauna to get creative ideas for your own pots and landscaping at home.
Also in the alphabet garden is a small natural playground for kids to jump from stump to stump and hide in trellis tents. If they look closely through the trees, kids will find a secret fairy town!
Edible Forest Tour
Just added to the botanical gardens are few acres of paths that circle through fruit plants. If you are lucky you can pull a raspberry, grape, apricot or other fun fruit from this mapped out trail. I love being able to see my kids eat straight from the source and learn more about where their food comes from.
Keep walking and explore the Japanese Garden and find a few picture perfect photo spots. You can even venture into the society’s greenhouse or sit in the shade and enjoy a snack under a large grape arbor.
Know before You Go:
Bonus: Nature Loop for Fruit Lovers
In far South Fargo, Orchard Glen Park was once a thriving private apple orchard. It has since been turned into a nature park but the apple trees still grow to their full glory.
If you visit in the spring the smell from the apple and fruit blossoms and humming of bees will overwhelm your senses and remind you of how incredible the cycle of nature is.
Visit in the fall and if you time it right, you’ll be able to grab an apple, cherry, pear, or plum to eat straight from the tree, but those go quickly as the public is allowed to pick them.
If you simply want a peaceful walk or a quiet paved trail with little chance of seeing another person, go anytime outside the spring apple blossoms and fall apple harvest. You’ll get the park mostly to yourself.
It’s a quick loop that can be taken multiple times making it the perfect place for a quiet stroller walk with a sleeping baby.
Know before You Go:
You don’t have to go far to find some spots to explore nature in Fargo. Our amazing communities have so much to offer for those of us who are looking for a little peaceful place to feel the mood-boosting effects of the outdoors.