The West River Parkway Trail, also known as the Mississippi River Gorge Regional Trail, extends between Plymouth Avenue North opposite Boom Island and Ford Parkway in Minnehaha Regional Park, where you can join the Minnehaha Trail.
The trail follows the Mississippi River south (downstream) from north of Plymouth Avenue to Minnehaha Falls and offers spectacular views of the river as well as access to downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota campus, and several trailhead/access points to other urban trails, including the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, the Dinkytown Greenway, and the Midtown Greenway.
The West River Parkway Trail mixes urban amenities with natural areas and is well used for recreation and commuting. The James I. Rice Park at Plymouth Avenue is the first of several parks along the route, most of which have portable toilets, water, and picnic areas, all in settings that offer views of the Mississippi River. The trail runs amid a tree-lined boulevard all along the southern portion of the parkway and offers occasional glimpses of the river far below.
An example of an oak savanna community of plants is being restored along the route at East 36th Street. The 5-mile round-trip Winchell Trail winds along the slopes below the parkway between Franklin Avenue and 44th Street.
A portion of the trail just north of the Franklin Avenue Bridge has been closed for more than a year because of construction to repair damage from a landslide that flushed 4,000 cubic yards of earth off the embankment along the parkway.
The West River Parkway Trail is part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile loop tour of the region that can be walked, biked, or driven and which features cultural and natural sites. The West River Parkway links up to the Godfrey Parkway, connecting it to Minnehaha Falls and several trails heading farther south.
To reach the northern trailhead from I-94 E., take Exit 229. Turn left onto W. Broadway Ave., and in 0.3 mile turn right onto W. River Road. In 0.5 mile parking will be on the left. From I-94 W., take Exit 229. Continue straight on 17th Ave. N., and in 0.2 mile turn right onto W. River Road. In 0.3 mile parking will be on the left.
There are several parking lots along W. River Pkwy.
To reach the southern trailhead from I-94 just north of downtown Minneapolis, take Exit 237. Head south on Cretin Ave. N., and go 2.6 miles. Turn right onto Ford Pkwy., and in 0.8 mile turn left onto 46th Ave. S. Immediately turn left onto Godfrey Pkwy., and parking will be on the right.