EcoElsa Nature Tours are educational hikes where you get outdoors being active but also learning about a topic along the way. Our hikes can be done on a wide variety of topics like birding, tracking, invasive species, and more! We also rate the difficulty of the trails around the Twin Cities in an effort to find the hiking route that best fits your needs while making the outdoors accessible for more people!
Our rating system to help you pick the hikes that best fit you is on a scale of 1 to 5 with a 1 being the easiest and a 5 being the hardest.
1 = mostly flat paved trail or boardwalk but up to a 5% grade (3 degrees)
2 = paved trail with 1 small hill between a 5% and 10% grade (3 to 6 degrees) or unpaved flat trail that is firm and stable
3 = unpaved gradual inclines and up to three small hills or 1 medium hill between a 5% and 12% grade (3 to 7 degrees)
4 = unpaved, 4 or more bigger hills between 10% and 15% grade (6 to 9 degrees) and no more than 1 steep incline above a 15% grade (9 degrees)
5 = high strain constant hills up & down movement more than 1 steep incline the grade ranges from 15% to 60% grade (9 to 30 degrees) similar to going up and down steep house stairs
Check out the list below for hikes that we offer at this time. If you are interested in requesting a hike check out the Request a Program page and if you would like to know the 2019 rates or group size limits for hikes and programs check out the FAQs page. Also stay tuned for the Upcoming Events page so you can sign-up for a still open previously scheduled hike like our twice monthly Free Hike Friday programs!
Tracks & Signs for Beginners: A fun easy going hike for kids and tracking beginners to learn the basics of identifying the tracks and signs of their local animals.
Advanced Tracking: Build off of your tracking foundation to develop more advanced tracking skills like estimating the size of the animal, how fast it was moving, how old the tracks are, and other clues to tell you the story of that animal.
Birding: Learn skills for identifying birds based on sight, sound, and movement while on a hike. This hike is more for beginners or those looking for a easy slower paced hike.
Plant Use History (Ethnobotany): Learn about how different Native American tribes and Europeans used the plants growing along the trail. Some highlights include food, medicine, poison, making things, and religious uses.
Dakota History: Take a hike at a place of historical and cultural significance for the Dakota people of Minnesota as you learn about their history.
Nature Journaling: Learn about the rich history of nature journaling in Minnesota and the Midwest as well as some new skills and tips to help you bring your own nature journal to life.
Climate Change: Take a hike to learn how the landscape around you will change if steps are not taken to reverse climate change. As well as thinks you can do to help prevent this and protect the landscape around you.
Invasive Species: Learn about how some of Minnesota’s more common invasive animal and plant species got here, the effect they are having on the environment, and what you can do to minimize their effect and spread.
Instagraming Nature: Learn tips for taking great photos for Instagram while on a hike as well as how to be safe and respectful of nature while doing so.
Minnesota Geology: Take a hike through Minnesota’s not so distant past and learn the story of the rocks you see along the trail.
Floodplain Forest: Learn more about this crucial ecosystem and the plants and animals who call it home as well as the role it plays in our water cycle & river systems.