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As of spring 2016, bridge access to the Minnesota Valley State Trail was still closed at Memorial Park in Shako-pee until further notice. Check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website for updates.
The Minnesota Valley State Trail is used by cyclists, equestrians, hikers, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. The trail passes through the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area at its southern end as well as other natural areas along its route. Portions of the trail run parallel to the Minnesota River, which means that it is subject to flooding in high-water years. Along the trail, you’ll encounter oak hardwood forests, oak savanna remnants, and hillsides and bluffs featuring scenic overlooks of the Minnesota River below. Wetlands include floodplain marshes, wet meadows, fens, and lakes. Wildlife and wildflowers abound.
Currently, the trail is more than 27 miles long; the 17.6-mile portion of the trail between Belle Plaine and Chaska has a natural surface and can be rough and sandy in places, a challenge for those with narrow-tire bikes. Between MN 41 in Chaska and Stagecoach Road (at the intersection of US 169 and County Road 101) in Shakopee, the 9.5-mile segment of the trail is paved. There are plans to extend the trail to cover a total of 80 miles between Fort Snelling (where work is already under way) and beyond Belle Plaine to Le Sueur.
A portion of the trail traverses the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, providing access to trails and natural amenities in the Lawrence and Louisville Swamp Units for a more intimate opportunity to experience the flora and fauna within the floodplain of the Minnesota River. The historic features of the Jabs Farm site and Little Rapids campsite along the Mazomani Trail within the Louisville Swamp section can be accessed from the Minnesota Valley State Trail.
There are restrooms at the Lawrence Unit as well as in cities and parks along the route.
For parking in Shakopee, take I-494 to Exit 10A for US 169 S. Merge onto US 169, and go 4.7 miles south. Take the exit for Hennepin County 101/Shakopee. Merge onto County Road 101, heading northwest, and go 5.5 miles. Turn right onto Fillmore St., and park at Huber Park.
For parking near Chaska, take I-494 to Exit 11C. Merge onto US 212, and go 9.1 miles west. Take the MN 41/Chestnut St. exit. Turn left onto MN 41/Chestnut St., and go 2.7 miles. Turn right onto the dirt road just past the trail access sign.
For Lawrence Unit (Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area), take I-494 to Exit 11C. Merge onto US 212, and go 12.7 miles west. Take the CR 11/Jonathan Carver Pkwy. exit. Turn left onto Jonathan Carver Pkwy., and go 2.6 miles. Turn left to stay on Jonathan Carver Pkwy., and go another 3.8 miles. Parking is on the left immediately after crossing the Minnesota River.
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