The Hardwood Creek Regional Trail is actually two parallel trails running along US 61 in rural Washington County. The paved trail is open for biking, walking, running, and in-line skating, while the adjacent grass trail is exclusively for equestrian use in the summer and snowmobile use in the winter. The entirety of the trail is located on a former Burlington Northern Railroad corridor. Resurfaced in the spring of 2015, the entire trail offers a smooth, level, and nearly arrow-straight route between its two trailhead communities.
Begin your journey in Hugo, a bedroom community featuring many shops and restaurants. The views quickly change to open fields as you leave residential areas. Several other places of business can be found in downtown Forest Lake, located just south of the trail’s northern endpoint. At the Washington–Chisago county line, the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail becomes the Sunrise Prairie Trail, which continues north for another 17 miles to North Branch. A more practical access point for those wanting to take the trail south from Forest Lake is to start near US 61 and Broadway Avenue. A little more than a mile south of the official northern terminus, this trail access offers ample parking, nearby retail shops and services, and a chance to enjoy Lakeside Park, just two blocks east on the shores of Forest Lake.
To reach the Hugo trailhead, take I-35E N. to Exit 123A. Head east on Main St., which becomes Frenchman Road, and go 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Forest Blvd. N., and in 0.3 mile turn left onto 146th St. N. Parking is on the left.
Parking is also available at the Washington County Headwaters Service and Transit Center located at Headwaters Pkwy. and US 61 near the trail’s midpoint. Take I-35 N. to Exit 129. Head east on Lake Drive N.E./MN 97, and go 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Forest Road N., and go 1.2 miles. The transit center is on the left.
In Forest Lake, park at US 61 and Broadway Ave. Take I-35 to Exit 131. Head east 0.8 mile on W. Broadway Ave. Parking is on the left just after crossing US 61.