Luce Line Trail

Minnesota

Luce Line Trail Facts

States: Minnesota
Counties: Carver, Hennepin, McLeod, Meeker
Length: 72.9 miles
Trail end points: Theodore Wirth Park (Minneapolis) and Thompson Lake near Rt. 7 (Cosmos)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone, Grass
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016292
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Luce Line Trail Description

The Luce Line Trail occupies the former railbed of the Electric Short Line Railroad, started in 1908. The tracks continued to be expanded into the late 1920s, when the rail line became known as the Minnesota Western. Passenger service stopped in 1947, and in 1956 the Minneapolis and Saint Louis Railway took over. The corridor became inactive by 1970, and the Luce Line Trail was born. Today, the former railroad corridor accommodates biking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

The 9-mile section of paved trail between Theodore Wirth Regional Park and Plymouth and Golden Valley in the western suburbs of Minneapolis is part of the Three Rivers Park District trail system, and that segment is designated as the Luce Line “Regional” Trail. Along the route, Medicine Lake forms the backdrop to wooden bridges that overlook the Bassett Creek marshlands.

As trail users enter Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the path becomes part of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail network, and the view expands to include the skyline of downtown Minneapolis. Nearby connections, just west of I-394 and Bryn Mawr Meadows Park, link to several Minneapolis trails, including the Cedar Lake Trail and Midtown Greenway. This section of the Luce Line Trail is routed along the old Bassett’s Creek Trail but, as of 2012, is included in the Luce Line Trail system.

The Luce Line Trail leads from urban Minneapolis west through Minnesota’s rural landscape, traveling through suburbs and wooded stretches, across wetlands, near lakes, through tallgrass prairie remnants, and into the countryside over varying surfaces. Between Plymouth and Winsted, the trail has a limestone surface with a parallel treadway for equestrians. Between Winsted and Hutchinson, the trail is paved for about 19 miles; between Hutchinson and Cedar Mills it is crushed granite; and between Cedar Mills and Cosmos you’ll find mowed grass. Snowmobiles are allowed on the trail west of Stubb’s Bay Road in Maple Plain.

Certain areas are not maintained regularly and can be a challenge following instances of severe weather, when the surface becomes muddy or otherwise impassable. Wildlife encountered along the way may include deer, foxes, minks, owls, pheasants, and many species of duck and geese. From Hutchinson westward, the Big Woods eastern forests give way to remnants of the tallgrass prairie, with many prairie plants still visible along the trail.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the eastern endpoint at Bryn Mawr Meadows Park: From I-394 take Exit 7 for Hennepin County Road 2/Penn Ave. Head north on Penn Ave., and immediately turn right onto Oliver Ave. In 0.1 mile turn right again onto Morgan Ave. S. In 0.3 mile turn right into the park.

To begin at Schaper Park, near the eastern endpoint outside of Minneapolis: From I-94 W., take Exit 230 for MN 55 toward Olson Memorial Hwy./Seventh St. N. (There is no Exit 230 from I-94 E.) Turn left onto MN 55 W.; after 2.7 miles, turn right onto Schaper Road, where parking is available in Schaper Park.

To reach the western trailhead in Cosmos, from I-494, take Exit 16B. Head west on MN 7, and go 65.5 miles. Turn right onto 525th Ave. and then left again on 525th Ave. Look for parking ahead to your right.

Parking is also available in the following communities: Plymouth, off 10th Ave. and Vicksburg Lane; Long Lake, off Stubb’s Bay Road; Lyndale, off CR 92; Carver, off CR 127, south of CR 20; and in Watertown, Winsted, and Hutchinson.

Luce Line Trail Reviews

This is one of my favorite trails in the city. Park at the parking lot at Stubbs Bay and bike 10 miles to Watertown. Mario's is a great cafe stop before turning back. The trail is not crowded and offers beautiful views of farms, small lakes and woodlands. Some day I want to ride west of Watertown and see what Winston is like.

Last October, the section from Winsted to Hutchinson was paved. It's a great route. One hiccup to get around is small unfinished portion just west of town. The ride to Hutchinson is great. Stop by the Crow River Winery on your way in to town. Then use the miles of trails and bike routes throughout the city.

This is a great new paved segment (~20 miles) of the Luce Line but it's kinda separated from the metro Luce. Hutchinson has done a nice job with parks & city trails as well as underpasses/bridges. There's also a nice city park in Hutch for camping. The day I did it they were working on intersections putting in concrete aprons.

The Winsted end is a mess. The trail abruptly ends a little west of Winsted with no signs specifying where to go. I went on a loose gravel road to get into town. East of Winsted it's a mix or loose gravel, dirt ... a slow go.

Accordion

We only rode 7-8 miles from Theodore Wirth to Medicine Lake and back but it was a pretty trail, interesting and mostly well maintained and marked

I rode the trail from MM 4 to MM 12. The trail condition was very good crushed & packed gravel. A canopy of trees provide nice shade. Wildlife is to be seen--I was two separate deer crossing the trail, and a wild turkey.

The Luce line is great for MTB's of all shapes and sizes. The further west you go the less people you see. In Winter the trail is very tough and extremely icy. From April to November it is a great trail to just pedal, enjoy the country side and clear your head. Wayzata is a great stop to re-energize. If you pass the pedestrian bridge it is a short 1 mile detour but the views of Lake Minnetonka and the refreshments are worth it. Another good but short piece of the Luce Line is the part in Theodore Wirth. Some very nice but way too short climbs and descents. This last part can be done on a road bike but the paved part really only starts once you pass the 494. I always add a few miles extra by going around Medicine Lake. A bit busy but really nice when there is no ice.

GREAT

Good trail lots of nice views of lakes and farms while you are close to the cities. The trail is very flat and easy riding until Winsted. Now, google maps show the trail completed all the way past Hutchinson MN but the trail disappears just past Winsted... literally! You have to follow a dirt road for about a mile and turn left at the first cross road and then you'll find the trail again but in much worse condition. My wife and I ride recumbents so it was a bit of a leap of faith but we followed our motto and "Pressed on" eventually pulling into Hutchinson later that evening. If you stop in Hutchinson treat yourself to Zella's for dinner. In Watertown on the main street there is a little Italian place called DaVinci's that makes their own sausage that is wonderful.

Google maps bicycle option shows the Luce Line going east to within about a 1/2 mile of the trail along Lake Wirth in Minneapolis. The Hennepin County bike map shows that this gap to be completed by 2009.

The Luce Line Trail is one of the few unpaved trails in MN. But the crushed rock makes for a mostly hard surface--better for a hybrid or MT bike than road. The eastern end is paved for a few miles and goes through the suburbs of Plymouth, Wayzata, Long Lake and close to Lake Minnetonka. There are quite a few intersections so be careful. Facilities are few and far between so bring your own water & nourishment. It's easy to do a shared loop with the paved Dakota Rail Trail by taking Ferndale through Wayzata and then cross back "on road" for 4 miles on CR 110 (wide paved shoulder) between Mound & Maple Plain. BTW, it 's possible to ride the Luce east into Minneapolis and connect with other city trails.

The western end has few users; with many scenic stretches in and out of the shade and past numerous horse farms, wetlands and Winsted Lake. If you want to go west of Winsted there are no signs directing you to the trail. I rode out to the airport, even on the runway and found only a sign & a mucky, dirt trail so I aborted but I guess I didn't go far enough to find the elusive trail to Silver Lake? Unless you live close, this trail is a good "once a year" ride.

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