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The trail is named in honor of Bruce Frank Vento, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 until his death in 2000, representing Minnesota’s fourth congressional district. Vento is recognized for his efforts to clean up the environment.
The regional trail links the White Bear Lake area with the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary on the eastern edge of downtown Saint Paul, near the Mississippi River at the intersection of Commercial St and E. 4th St. Starting at the nature sanctuary, the trail heads north and immediately passes through the stone arches of the bridge known as the Seventh Street Improvement Arches. Built in 1884, it is considered one of the most important feats of engineering in Minnesota history and one of the few examples of this style of construction in the United States—not to mention the only one of its type in Minnesota. Locally quarried limestone was used for most of the stonework: The wing walls and abutments were carved from Saint Paul gray limestone, and buff--colored Kasota limestone came from quarries in the Minnesota River Valley.
The trail then meanders northward within the scenic ravine that cuts through Swede Hollow Park, passing an industrial area before circling around and through Eastside Heritage Park. From this point northward, the trail continues through a decidedly urban setting. The route follows close to the east side of Lake Phalen, but instead of staying right along the lake on East Shore Drive, it veers away from the lake along a tree-lined corridor. For an open, direct view of the lake, trail users can jump on the Lake Phalen trail and reconnect with the Vento Trail by turning east on Arlington Avenue and accessing the trail at North English Street. From there, you’ll wind through a wooded corridor between neighborhood backyards as you make your way toward White Bear Lake.
About 0.75 mile south of MN 36, the trail intersects with the Gateway State Trail, whose northeast segment continues on to its trailhead north of Still-water. While this section is predominantly residential, the Vento Trail does pass through a few neighborhood parks and open spaces as it gets farther north.
The trail drops down along the street soon after crossing Beam Avenue at County Road D, where it then winds along the sidewalk for a short distance before resuming along a corridor that ends unglamorously at Buerkle Road, just north of I-694.
For access to the southern trailhead, take I-94 to Exit 243 for Mounds Blvd. Head north on Mounds Blvd., and take the first left onto Seventh St. E. The parking lot for the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is one block west, on the south side of the street at Payne Ave.
The trail can also be accessed at most road crossings. Parking is available midway along the trail at Harvest Park. From Saint Paul, follow I-35E N. to Exit 111A. Merge onto MN 36 E. toward Stillwater, and go 1.9 miles. Exit onto US 61 N., and go 0.7 mile. Turn right onto County Road C E., and in 0.8 mile turn right onto Hazelwood St. In 0.3 mile turn right onto Brooks Ave. E., and go 0.1 mile to arrive at Harvest Park. The trail is on the west end of the park.
There is no designated north trailhead at Buerkle Road.
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