Hi! Are there nice trails for hiking in the area or are we better off going to Grand Marais area? Thanks@
Since you haven't gotten any answers from people who have hiked in the area, I know there is hiking in Pillsbury State Forest (we used to vacation in the area), but I haven't actually attempted it. Not sure if this link will work. Lately I've had problems with links on here. If not, just google it.
There are hikes available around Brainerd but you have waterfalls and vistas of Lake Superior and other lakes with the scenery of the hikes around Grand Marais .
If you search "hiking minnesota google books" you can preview hikes 39 (Pillsbury Forest) and 40 (Mille Lacs Kathio State Park) in "Hiking Minnesota" by J. Pukite to get an idea of what the hiking around Brainerd is like.
Biking (or hiking) parts of the Paul Bunyun trail may be a good option for Brainerd area (112 miles of paved trail from Brainerd to Bemidji. Start at the exploreminnesota. com website for information on the trail under things to do/biking.
I come from the general Brainerd Lakes area of the state originally. It's great, though not known as much for hiking compared to places like the North Shore, and known more for great boating, fishing, resorts, and just relaxing weekends away from the Twin Cities up at the lake cabin.
I've never hiked the area, but in addition to the Pillsbury State Forest, there is also the Crow Wing State Forest and the small Crow Wing State Park that have hiking trails. Central Minnesota in general is fairly flat, so expect less of scenic overlooks and more along the lines of nature trails through wooded scenery and along lakes and river shorelines.
Otherwise the Paul Bunyan Trail is a paved trail traveling 100 miles north from Brainerd up to Bemidji, though it doesn't really fit what I would describe as real hiking, as it's very well-maintained and high traffic down near the Brainerd end, full of walkers, bicyclists, rollerblading, etc.
Look into the Cuyanna Recreation Area. I haven't been there yet but plan to try it this upcoming weekend. There is a nice YouTube about the trail.
Thanks so much!