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The 5.9-mile Brown’s Creek State Trail, which opened in October 2014, is the latest addition to Minnesota’s extensive trail system. The rail-trail stretches from the St. Croix riverfront town of Stillwater to meet up with the popular Gateway State Trail in the town of Grant, thus becoming part of the expansive Willard Munger State Trail system. With this connection, trail users have direct access to the St. Croix River via off-road trails from the capital city of Saint Paul to Stillwater.
The paved route follows the former Minnesota Zephyr line that operated a dinner train along the route until 2008. Noted for its scenery, the route passes through woodlands along a 2-mile stretch of dedicated trout stream and through a mile-long corridor alongside the St. Croix River, a National Scenic Riverway and Minnesota’s only river in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The trail passes several historic sites. It also enables users to connect to local and regional parks and trails in the Stillwater area.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has installed a bicycle tune-up station in downtown Stillwater, two blocks south of the trail near Water Street. A second station is proposed for the Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve, located about halfway along the trail west of Stillwater.
Restrooms are located 0.25 mile south of the eastern trailhead at the pedestrian walkway, and seasonally at the Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve on Neal Avenue, halfway along the trail on the left. A seasonal portable toilet is also located on the Gateway State Trail at MN 96, 0.25 mile northeast of the intersection with the Brown’s Creek State Trail.
To access the trail in Stillwater, from Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 8.5 miles. Turn left onto MN 95 N./St. Croix Trail. In 2 miles, parking will be on the left at Laurel St.
Midway on the trail, parking is available at Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve. From Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 5 miles. Turn left onto Manning Ave. N., and go 2.6 miles. Turn right onto McKusick Road N., and in 1 mile, turn right onto Neal Ave. N. Parking will be on the right in 0.1 mile.
To access the trail in Grant, from Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 0.5 mile. Take the exit toward Hilton Trail, and follow Hilton north 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Stillwater Road/75th St. N., and go 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Jamaca Ave. In 1.9 miles, turn right onto MN 96/Dellwood Road. Parking will be on the right near the trestle bridge at 1.4 miles. Follow the Gateway State Trail southwest 0.25 mile to reach Brown’s Creek State Trail.
We've ridden this trail at least once a year and it's a local favorite. It connects with the Gateway Trail and follows the creek down to Stillwater. Its popular with the locals and well as tourists. There's no parking in the western start of the trail, so I would recommend parking at the Pine Point trailhead (tons of parking, water and bathrooms). There is a tiny parking lot off of Highway 96, but it's almost always full on weekends, even early in the morning.
If you start at the western trailhead off of the Gateway, the trip to Stillwater is downhill, but you really don't notice it too much, even the trip back is pleasant. There are a few places where you traverse a local golf course but the majority of the trail is through some lovely wooded areas. I've almost ridden off into the trees because I've been gawking at the beautiful scenery!
You can continue to explore Stillwater at the trail's end, or head north to William O'Brien State Park and the lovely river towns of Marine on St. Croix and Copas. It's a great little trail!
Live in DC; visit Twin Cities annually. I think MN did a great job with this trail -- it is a great way to get from the Twin Cities into scenic Stillwater. Delightfully, much of this trail is along a steep 60-foot stream gorge -- something more like what you might find in the Appalachian mountains of the East Coast rather than prairie-filled MN -- a nice experience! Just bring your legs for this trail --- it is all downhill into Stillwater and then all uphill back to the Gateway Trail (back to Twin Cities).
The trail is lovely and wooded, and the asphalt smooth. We rode out of Stillwater, MN and found the trail a slow, uphill grade for at least two miles as others have mentioned. The following three or so miles out also had some uphill grade interspersed with flat sections. The ride back toward Stillwater is a wonderful breezy downward slope! It was a fun five miles back to town!
Great new trail. Much easier of a ride going towards Stillwater than out of Stillwater. The incline from Stillwater towards the Gateway trail end is graded nicely but it still is uphill for about the first 2 miles.
We rode on this trail for the first time this past weekend. Love the canopy of trees and the sights and sounds of Brown's Creek. Getting there early in the morning with the fog made for some pretty sun rays through the trees. We started in Stillwater knowing about the slight grade, so coming back was a breeze. Also enjoyed all the stops along the way. Hope to go back later this fall. Highly recommend this trail.
Trail is in great condition, wider than many older ones, very smooth. Note the previous comment about the slight uphill grade from Stillwater towards Grant (nothing steep, just gradual). We started in Stillwater and took the grade first, making the return trip very fast (fun). Scenic and there are artistic and educational/historic info at several rest areas along the path that you might want to check out rather than simply flying by them.
The trailhead parking lot in Stillwater is 24hour/free, with easy walking access to the riverfront and downtown activities afterwards without moving your car.
Glad to see the investment made in another safe, offroad bike trail.
We rode this trail on a sunny day in late October, and it was absolutely beautiful!
It's pretty much all downhill (small grade) from the Gateway Trail to Stillwater. We stopped for wine and apps in downtown Stillwater which made the uphill ride back to the Gateway a bit challenging, but fun.
We'll definitely be hitting this trail often this year!
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