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Sections of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail, which extends westward from the Minneapolis suburbs situated along Lake Minnetonka, have been opening since June 2009. The trail occupies the former Dakota Rail corridor, which ran for a total length of 44 miles to Hutchinson, Minnesota, before falling out of use in 2001. That same year, the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, Carver County, and McLeod County jointly purchased the corridor with the goal of establishing a rail-trail. The 13-mile Hennepin County section of the trail begins at the lakefront in downtown Wayzata, an idyllic suburb of Minneapolis.
Lake views are never far away for much of the trail’s journey through Hennepin County. In fact, many of these communities were developed in the late 19th century as popular resort towns because of their stunning views of the clear water and convenient location along the expanding railroad lines. These towns, which are now largely residential, include Orono, Minnetonka Beach, Spring Park, and Mound. After passing through the town of St. Bonifacius, the trail enters Carver County.
The section of trail from the border with Hennepin County in the east to the small city of Mayer in the west was constructed in 2010. Like the first portion of the trail, striking lake views, now of vast Lake Waconia, make up much of the scenery. After the lake, the trail passes through an equally beautiful mix of open fields and forest.
The newest section of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail opened in early 2013. Running from Mayer to the Carver–McLeod county line, the trail parallels a lightly used rural road. Trail users pass through the tiny town of New Germany before reaching the current western endpoint. Work to upgrade and gravel the section of the trail extending from the McLeod–Carver county line into the town of Lester Prairie was in progress in the fall of 2015. Funding is being sought to pave this section. Development plans extend the paved trail all the way to Hutchinson, the largest city in McLeod County. Currently, the trail west of Lester Prairie is used primarily as an all-terrain vehicle/snowmobile trail.
To begin in Wayzata, from the intersection of I-494 and I-394, follow US 12 W. 1.6 miles, and take the exit for County Road 101 S. (toward Wayzata). Continue onto Bushaway Road/Gleason Lake Drive, and take the first right onto Wayzata Blvd. E. In 1.1 miles turn left onto Barry Ave. and in 0.2 mile continue onto Grove Lane E. In 0.2 mile designated trail parking spaces will be on your left in Shaver Park (175 Grove Lane).
In Mound, park at the downtown transit center adjoining the trail at the intersection of Lynwood Blvd. and Commerce Blvd. From the intersection of I-494 and I-394, follow US 12 W. 3.3 miles, and take the CR 15 W. exit. Merge onto CR 15/Shoreline Drive, and go 7.7 miles. The transit center will be on your left.
Parking is available in St. Bonifacius at Don Logelin Memorial Lions Park, located on Bell St. just off MN 7. From I-494, take Exit 16B. Follow MN 7 W. 15.8 miles. Turn right onto Bell St., and the trail is on the right.
Parking is also available in downtown New Germany on Broadway St. From I-494, take Exit 16B. Follow MN 7 W. 22 miles. Turn left onto MN 25, and in 1.8 miles turn right onto CR 30/First St. N.E. In 3.7 miles parking will be on the left.
We started in Wayzata. There is a trailhead and parking VERY close to the lake near Depot Docks, but somewhat hard to find. Free parking reserved for those using the trail in the middle of otherwise permit parking. There is still a small detour on road, but I think it was only 1/2 mile extra, and probably 1 1/2 miles on road total on bike lanes.
We really enjoyed the ride around the lakes and the small towns. When the trail gets out to the Westonka Recreational Park area, you are in the country. It is a nice shaded summer ride. St.Bonifacious is about half way and a good place to stop for lunch. We were actually on our way back to Wayzata when we stopped for a late lunch. The towns out towards the west end had places with signs greeting bikers, but not much activity was visible. Good luck to them. It seems as of August 2017 the last mile is still gravel.
The trail should be paved to County 1 to the West edge of Lester Prairie sometime this early summer!
I live in NYC and recently spent time visiting family in Lester Prairie. I rode the Dakota rail trail from end to end several times while I was home and cannot say enough wonderful things about it. Gorgeous views, had the trail to myself for the most part, every amenity you would want -- maps, mileage and historical info at the kiosks, porta-potties, water, even a bike repair station in Mound!!! The segment from Waconia to Lester Prairie is especially beautiful with endless views of farm country, gently rolling hills and corn and soybean fields, and beautiful wetlands and lakes right alongside the trail.
The most blissful biking experience I've had. I will be back for more!!!
Went as far as Waconia. Nice, fairly level, and a smooth trail surface. You can watch the boat traffic on the bays of the lake. Lots of signage to help. Ice cream shop (Lost Lake Creamery) in Mound was good. Apparently the construction work is done near Wayzata and that end is open now.
Once you get out of Wayzata this is a great trail.
I road 15 miles west starting in Wayzata.
When I rode back a construction crew was working on removing section of the trail. Had to take the detour Shore Line Drive
There were many markings on the trail near Wayzata for future construction.
Next ride I am going to start in Mound to avoid the construction.
Awesome bike trail that can end/start in Lester Prairie.
I've ridden this trail twice from Wayzata to the end of the trail (and back). I was impressed by its smoothness and great scenery. Close to Wayzata, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, but that thins out pretty quickly.
Out by St. Bonifacius, it's nice to stop at a nearby gas station to cool down and get water and maybe snacks if you didn't pack enough. After that, I didn't see anywhere convenient to fill up the water bottles, though I could be wrong.
The trail condition is great - smooth asphalt - the first year there was a bit of construction, but those spots were filled in the following year.
The reason I don't give this five stars is the street crossings early on from Wayzata. It can be tricky to get across the roads when the drivers are insisting on ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. And yes, I did dismount at the crosswalks.
This trail will be great when it gets extended even further. Looking forward to that!
I rode this 8/4/2015 down and back starting in Wayzata and ending at the County Rd 7 line (Lester Prairie). If you ride the trail from start to finish it is actually 28 miles and not the 25.5 listed.
It is a very nice trail with lots of scenary and lake views. The pavement is smooth and well maintained. There are plenty of places to stop and grab a quick snack, which is nice. The trail runs through two counties (Hennepin and Carver). The Hennepin County portion has trail markers every mile, the Carver one does not.
The only dislikes that I had of this trail are the frequent stopping due to road crossings for about the first 10-12 miles. This can get a little annoying after a while. Also, I didn't like how the mile markers stopped once you hit Carver County.
There is tree cover for about 40% of the trail, so plan on wearing sunscreen if needed.
What a gorgeous trail, and so well maintained. The beautiful homes are fun to look at, green all around, but best of all was how well the asphalt is looking. I'll be again and again!
The trail offers amazing scenery, great big houses, and a smooth ride. It impacts all of your senses from the amazing nature smells to the drive-in burger shack
I love to ride my bike for a good excersise and I've decided to make an effort this summer to ride and complete as many MN bike trails as possible around work schedule obviously. The Dakota Rail Trail is the first one that I have been on and it is wonderful. I've completed the eastern portion (Mayer to Wayzata) and will soon be able to do the Western Front (Mayer to NG).
Enough about me, back to the Trail Review...
The Dakota Rail Trail, DRT, is paved the entire way from NG to Wayzata, which make travel very smooth and easy. If you're looking for a scenic route, then look no further, because you get it all with this one. This route transitions from farmland to small towns, to suburban life and downtown Wayzata.
The one complaint I have is that the trail needs to be kept up on and cleaned throughout the trail season, especially after the storms we have encountered. The forested areas along the trail have branches that have blown down onto the path that can be dangerous the later people are using the trail. Running a mini-street sweeper through there would work tremendously.
I'm looking forward to getting out to other great trails in the near future.
We stopped at a great little coffee shop and bakery in Mayer, Mn. Called Ruby's Roost. I had an amazing caramel latte and a delish cinnamon roll! They have an outdoor patio and a bike rack. A perfect stopover for our ride. By the way, the baked goods are all made with organic ingredients. I absolutely LOVE the Dakota trail!
Four of us biked the trail from our home in Orono over to Lake Waconia last Saturday 10/25/14. Could not have been more beautiful or enjoyable. We stopped at Gale Woods farm on the way out and then stopped at Dakota Junction Restaurant on the way back. Splendid way to spend an autumn afternoon with friends.
If you want to get out on the flats and just pump away for strong exercise, this is a great trail! Though I live in Minnetonka, east of the trail beginning in Wayzata, to avoid almost all road crossings, I drive west and start in Mound and ride west from there to the terminus 2 miles beyond New Germany, then return. It's a 30-something mile ride I think. Beautiful glide...and trail is in wonderful condition. Kind of like the Greenway in Mpls but cornfields and barely any traffic!
The Dakota trail is by far my favorite trail in Minnesota and one I ride several times a month. The eastern portion of the trail passes by lake minnetonka and a lot of large homes while the western portion of the trail runs through woods, past swamps, lakes, and farm fields. The western portion has a remote quality to it without feeling completely desolate. From St Boni running west, there are minimal road crossings. The trail is quite flat and you can really fly on a road bike. The asphalt is in outstanding shape with thevwestern portion having been paved in the last couple of years. There are portapotties at each trailhead and the ballfield on the trail in New Germany has a restroom with a water fountain. If you're looking for a trail to do a day's ride, the Dakota is a great choice.
I loved the trail. Lots of trees, wildlife, farms, and goats on a barn roof! There was even a cute Bestro (right on the trail), at 92/Main street in Saint Bonifacious, which was a great place to stop for a sandwich.
We loved how the flat trail journeys through beautiful neighborhoods, decedent forestry and remote countryside.
Just beautiful. Does anyone know the mileage from Wayzata to the Carver county line that's past New Germany? Someone said it might be around 50 Miles round trip but I don't have a computer on my bike.
Rode 25 minutes out and back last weekend. Nice and flat, not very crowded and easy to navigate.Sunny and pretty! I will bring my friends on this one next time!
This is by far my favorite bike trail. The trail is entirely paved and smooth from Wazata to New Germany (perhaps beyond but I've gone that far) and is practically flat. You'll pass through some of the most poshish neighborhoods in the metro area as you pass by Lake Minnentoka and then out into the countryside. The is a nice restroom stop in Orono (with a Farmer's Market on Saturdays) but crossing Highway 101 can be tricky so watch out! Stop at Uncle Ron's Smokehouse for lunch or ice cream (the is a bistro in St Boni but go another 8 miles to Mayer and Uncle Ron's). Parking at the Wayzata trailhead is generally good.
I know this title has already been used but I could not think of a more appropriatly descriptive title for this trail. As mentioned often in other reviews this trail is smooth, I don't know how they do it but it is one of the smoothest trails we've ridden. It travels through tunnels of trees giving lots of shade on sunny days and numerous little towns allowing for the opportunity to find bathrooms and snacks along the way. It starts in Wayzata along the north shore of Lake Minnetonka and travels west through manicured neighborhoods of mansions and minimansions. Then into exurban areas of hobby farms and horses and on to working farms with views of large fields and men on tractors yelling words of encouragement and good humored derision to the spandex crowd. The many inviting benches along the trail make it difficult to make good time but easy to enjoy the changing scenery. A stop at Ron's Smoke House in Mayor with an entrance directly from the trail for a malt is highly recommended, lawn chairs along the trail make it easy to find. We'll be traveling back to Minnesota to ride it again during fall colors. This trail is the new gold standard against which other trails are measured.
Really, I can't think of a way this trail could be improved. The path is smooth and it is paved all the way to Mayer. If you are riding out from the Twin Cities you can get to the trail by riding out on the Greenway then cut through Hopkins to the Lake Minnetonka Trail. From there you will need to NOT take the first tunnel you come to and go up to the street level, take a right (heading north). There is a nice wide sidewalk / bike trail. If you follow your nose you will come to a small bay bridge and about a 1/2 mile after the bridge a stop light. Left at the stop light will bring you into Wayzeta.
WARNING: The bridge and the 2 miles on either side of it are not very bike friendly. There are plenty of disappearing "bike lanes" and cars whipping past.
Wayzeta is a posh little lake town with plenty of nice places to stop and eat. Just outside of Wayzeta on the left hand side you'll see the entrance to the trail. From there on it is 20 miles of smooth riding. There are great lake views, gorgeous old lake homes and nice farms vistas and wooded stretches. We went all the way to Mayer and stopped at Uncle Ron's Smoke House for lunch. It is right on the trail and offers ice cream, sandwiches, sports drinks etc. There are plans to extend the trial further to the county line this year according to the owner.
Back to the Twin Cities will be an 80 round trip roughly depending from where you start.
This trail does not disappoint.
The two new bridges crossing busy roads in St. Boni are now open, so you can ride on a nice smooth paved trail all the way west to Mayer (except for a strange 1/2 mile dirt segment) which is an additional 8.5 miles. On the way you pass by the north shore of Lake Waconia and some cute little hobby farms. So far the trail head in Mayer is only a parking lot with a porta potty but it looks like more is in the works.
In St. Boni the city hall offices are open during the week, so there's a nice place to change with water fountains & toilet facilities. The trail heading east into Wayzata has quite a few intersections and there are usually many users to look out for. There are bathroom facilities in Wayzata at a park (right on Lake Minnetonka) but they were locked last time I visited (mid May). All in all this is a very nice trail that you can do a 45 mile out & back on.
The trail is smooth and flat with lots of great scenery. It would be nice if there was a couple of rest stops along the way. You have to watch for vehicle cross traffic and stubborn walkers between Wayzata and Spring Park (especially Crystal Bay area). I have encountered people that walk the trail and refuse to move over for passing traffic. Otherwise it's a great trail and recommend it to others.
The Dakota officially opened this June when a bridge segment was completed making it continuous. The scenery is pleasant--farm fields, wetlands, lakes, small towns & suburbia. There are virtually NO hills or inclines. Being new the pavement is still smooth. On weekends, it's crowded with walkers, bladers, runners & slow bikers. At the Wayzata end you can connect with the Luce Line Trail (which is not paved) by riding north on Ferndale about 1/2 mile. There are quite a few intersections you have to be careful for especially on the east end. Amenities are pretty sparse. I don't know why fancy kiosks are more important than shady benches, water, porta potties, etc.
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