Afton to Lakeland Trail

Minnesota

Afton to Lakeland Trail Facts

States: Minnesota
Counties: Washington
Length: 4 miles
Trail end points: Pike Ave. (Afton) and Hudson Road/8th Street (Lakeland)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016364
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Afton to Lakeland Trail Description

The Afton to Lakeland Trail links its namesake towns on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River. The trail runs between Quinlan Avenue North/Eighth Street at Crocker Park in Lakeland and Pike Avenue South near Afton City Hall (the southern trailhead). The flat trail passes through Lakeland Shores, Lake St. Croix, Lake St. Croix Beach, and Saint Marys Point.

Although this trail travels through the lower portion of the beautiful St. Croix River Valley, it runs parallel to the highway (St. Croix Trail South/County Road 18) for its entire length, with the closest view of the river 0.25 mile to the east.

The northern trailhead is linked to the Hudson to Lakeland/Afton Trail that crosses over the St. Croix River via the I-94 pedestrian bridge/bikeway and travels immediately north into the town of Hudson, Wisconsin. Though the trail in Lakeland begins its run through five semi-urban river communities along a relatively busy highway, the landscape becomes more woodsy and inviting along its southern segment toward Afton. The section that crosses Valley Branch Creek is on a railroad grade through a floodplain and includes tree-covered hills.

Beyond the southern trailhead at Afton City Hall, trail users can continue south into the old village section of Afton via city streets and a pathway between 32nd and 34th Streets. Restrooms and supplies need to be sought out in the communities along the route, although there is a portable toilet at the city park in the old village section of Afton.

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Parking and Trail Access

To reach the southern trailhead from I-94, take Exit 258. Head 5 miles south on St. Croix Trail/County Road 18. Turn left onto Pike Ave. S. Limited parking is available at Afton City Hall.

To reach the northern trailhead, from I-94, take Exit 258. Head south on St. Croix Trail/CR 18, and immediately turn left onto Hudson Road N./Eighth St. N., and access the trail at the intersection with Quinlan Ave. N. in Lakeland.

You can also access the trail at its midpoint on Fourth St. and park at Afton-Lakeland Elementary School on weekends, or park farther south of the school off Seventh St. To reach this trail access, from I-94, take Exit 258. Head 1.3 miles south on St. Croix Trail/CR 18, and turn left just past Fourth St. into the school parking lot. To reach Seventh St., head 1.5 miles south on St. Croix Trail from the interstate.

Afton to Lakeland Trail Reviews

Much better after road repairs.

This road needs to be resurfaced and redesigned. Once the round abouts were installed, the trail got very a zigzag line.

This is easily the worst asphalt trail I have ever rode on. There are A LOT of cracks that have been filled in with crack filler. This has caused the trail to be extremely bumpy making the ride very uncomfortable.I think it is way overdue for resurfacing.
Outside of a need for resurfacing it is a fairly easy trail to ride.

So, if you ride it wear shorts with a lot of padding.

Accordion

Surprised by an afternoon off and a temperature above 70 degrees (a novelty these days!), I decided to load up the mountain bike and head down to the river. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Hudson area trails, but I hadn’t yet embarked on the 3.4 mile stretch of pavement that runs just south of Interstate 94 through Lakeland to midtown Afton, paralleling the St. Croix River. Anticipating a quiet, scenic river route, I was a little disappointed to find myself rattling through patchwork pavement and dodging skateboards. Paralleling freeway more than river, the ride was not the scenic adventure I’d hoped for. In fact, the river isn’t even visible from the trail. Instead of trees there are strip malls. In a neighborhood that I suspect to be less than affluent, arrests being made replaced the wildlife viewing that I had diligently packed my camera to capture. The trail made some improvements on its social standing as it moved out of the less conspicuous neighborhoods of Lakeland and into Afton, however. While the quality of the infrastructure did not improve, I found myself dodging tree branches instead of Honda Civics as the trail veered slightly away from the freeway, a worthy trade. Afton is a quaint town offering art galleries, antique shops and ice cream parlors. The people are old, service is slow and burgers are overpriced. But after a bartender with a million dollar smile mixed up a few mystery cocktails (I’m told there was rum, but all I could taste was the pineapple), I didn’t mind so much that my nature adventure had turned into day drinking in suburbia. I recommend the trail for anyone seeking a lazy afternoon of possibly unusual sightseeing. Not so much for the bike/ nature enthusiast.

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