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The Cedar Lake Light Rail Transit (LRT) Regional Trail is an integral component of Hennepin County’s extensive trail network, in which rail-trails feature prominently. The trail directly links four trails together: In the west, it branches off at the junction of both the similarly named North Cedar Lake Regional Trail and the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail. The eastern end of the Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail seamlessly becomes Minneapolis’s popular Midtown Greenway just north of Excelsior Boulevard, where Chowen Avenue South curves to become Abbott Avenue South. Just a few hundred yards north, it links up with the Kenilworth Trail (whose southern segment is also known as the Burnham Trail). Taking the Kenilworth Trail north enables users to link up with the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail and continue into downtown Minneapolis for even more trail connections. Heading back west along the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail leads to the western terminus in Hopkins as part of the 12-mile Cedar Lake Loop.
Running past mostly industrial properties, the 12-foot-wide, paved Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail occupies a former Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway (and later Chicago and North Western Railway) corridor. The right-of-way became inactive in the early 1990s and was acquired by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), which installed the trail. The HCRRA always planned to use the corridor for a future passenger rail line; in fact, the LRT designation of several Hennepin County trails indicates those pathways built on corridors intended for future light rail transit use.
Fortunately, even though the planned Southwest LRT line will run on the entirety of what is now the Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail, the HCRRA has committed to maintaining all existing trails. In this case, the trail will become one of an ever-increasing number of successful rail-with-trail projects around the country.
To begin at the western end of the Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail in Hopkins, park at the Depot Coffee House and trailhead, which lies immediately south of the trail on a spur that connects to the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail between Excelsior Blvd. and Milwaukee St. Take I-394 to Exit 3, and follow US 169 4.2 miles south. Take the Excelsior Blvd./County Road 3 exit. Turn left onto Excelsior Blvd. The coffee house will be on your right in 0.2 mile. The trail begins across the road.
Heading east out of Hopkins, there is also a large parking lot at the Sam’s Club, immediately north of the trail access, on Louisiana Ave. S. in St. Louis Park. Take I-394 to Exit 5, and merge onto MN 100. Follow it 1.8 miles south, and take the W. 36th St. exit. Turn right onto Wooddale Ave. S., and in 0.4 mile turn left onto MN 7. In 0.3 mile take the Louisiana Ave. exit. Turn left onto Louisiana Ave., and in 0.1 mile Sam’s Club will be on the left. The trail is at the southern end of the parking lot.
For access to the eastern end, take I-394 to Exit 5, and merge onto MN 100. Follow it 1.4 miles south, and take the CR 5/Minnetonka Blvd. exit. Turn left onto Minnetonka Blvd., and go 0.9 mile. Turn left onto CR 25, and in 0.6 mile make a sharp right onto Excelsior Blvd. Turn right onto Abbott Ave., where you can likely find parking along the street. The trail is in 0.2 mile, where Abbott meets Chowen Ave.
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