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The Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail runs southwest from the Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins to Carver Bluffs Parkway and Carver Creek Circle. The trail is over 19 miles in length and occupies a former rail corridor originally built by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway and later abandoned by the Chicago and North Western Railway. The right-of-way is now owned by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), who intends to use a short portion of the corridor in Hopkins for a future light rail line. Fortunately, the HCRRA plans to maintain the existing trail alongside the new transit option.
Begin your journey in Hopkins at the Depot Coffee House—housed in a restored train station—and trailhead between Excelsior Boulevard and Milwaukee Street. The site also contains the western endpoints for the similarly-named North Cedar Lake Regional Trail/Cedar Lake Trail and Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail, which ultimately both take trail users to the heart of Minneapolis. Just west of the trailhead, a short trek up 8th Avenue will connect bikers, walkers and runners with the scenic Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.
The Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail passes a number of industrial and commercial properties in Hopkins before emerging into open space next to Shady Oak Lake. Much of the rest of the route consists of a similar landscape, although residential neighborhoods make up the scenery in Eden Prairie. Popular Miller Park emerges just past State Route 5/Arboretum Boulevard. The park contains several ball fields and stunning views of Mitchell Lake.
Shortly after the trail bridge over busy US 212, the pathway runs through the grounds of Bearpath Golf and Country Club. At Riley Lake Park, play a game of softball, tennis or volleyball, or go for a swim in the park's namesake lake. The trail finally reaches its endpoint at Carver Bluffs Parkway and Carver Creek Circle.
Parking for the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail can be found at a number of points along the trail's route. In Hopkins, park at the Depot Coffee House and trailhead between Excelsior Boulevard and Milwaukee Road or at the lot on Excelsior Boulevard at the foot of 8th Avenue. In Eden Prairie, park at Miller Park on US 212 just west of Eden Prairie Road. Alternatively, park at Riley Lake Park on Riley Lake Road north of Pioneer Trail. In Chaska, parking can be found in a small dedicated lot where the trail meets Bluff Creek Drive.
This trail needs better signage. Unless you're a local it's easy to get lost jogging around busy intersections that lack clear signage. Once off, it's hard to correct.
Also, near the western end it's closed due to mudslides and erosion. Crushed rock makes this a slow go but at least there's few riders & some nice scenery.
This is one of my favorite getaway trails when I need to get out of the urban area but don't have time for a long drive. You can easily bike to it from the center of Minneapolis or drive out closer and start partway. It goes through some industrial zones, but as you get farther out you see nice suburuban housing and backyard woods/wetlands followed by beautiful vistas overlooking the Minnesota River. It's most flat and gravel but an easy trail to get out of the city and get back in quickly.
The lake minnetonka trail is nice, rather quiet while the minnestoa river bluffs trail is noisy, crossing freeways and busy roads.
We ride this trail from Minnetonka Civic Center out to Carver Park with our kids. Very flat, stopping point midway in Excelsior. You can stop at Carver Park which has vending machines and water. Very few crossings so you don't have to worry about your kid getting run down by a car!
This is more of a collection of the various designated roads as well as park trails than a single trail. A PDF map of the trail system can be found here: http://www.eminnetonka.com/public_works/parks_trails/trails/new_map.pdf
Some roads designated as trail roads can be quite busy; be careful and be aware.
Considering these are crushed limestone trails in MN they're adequate, however, why have such fancy kiosks but so few restrooms, drinking fountains and benches in the shade. The northern segment (Hopkins to Victoria) is much more scenic & peaceful than the southern route which is chopped up by busy streets & freeways. It also ends abruptly onto busy 212 in Chaska where there is no signage or parking.
"This is a great trail. My friends and I ride this trail till the end, come back to Minneapolis, have lunch at Maynards, and slowly take the rest of the way home. I like the gravel on the trail. I want summer to return.
"We ride this trail often with friends and relatives who live near it, so it feels like home. Although not the greatest surface (it's one of just a few of Minnesota's best trails that aren't paved), it makes for a cool summer day's ride with frequent shade, lake breezes, and very scenic marshlands. It also gets you to the Victoria House, whose menu often makes the ride more than worthwhile. Recent renovations to the trail are nearly completed, and the construction creates only minor inconvenience."
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