Mississippi River Regional Trail (Dakota County)

Minnesota

11 Reviews

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Mississippi River Regional Trail (Dakota County) Facts

States: Minnesota
Counties: Dakota
Length: 25.2 miles
Trail end points: Simon’s Ravine Trailhead on Concord St N (South St. Paul) and Ravenna Trail (Hastings)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 8617447

Mississippi River Regional Trail (Dakota County) Description

This Mississippi River Regional Trail running through eastern Dakota County is a segment of a larger regional trail system that is itself part of the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

The northern portion of the Dakota County segment includes a completed, paved 13.5-mile section starting in South Saint Paul and ending in Rosemont. The 11.7-mile Hastings component starts just down the road in the Spring Lake Park Reserve and goes through the heart of the river city of Hastings, past Lake Isabelle, and crosses the Vermillion River, before ending in the Hastings Scientific and Natural Area (SNA). The last few miles of this trail that will make it a continuous route are currently being developed and will bring the length of the Dakota County section to nearly 28 miles when finished.

Beginning in Simon’s Ravine, the northern segment of the trail follows along a levee and offers a continuous overlook view of the railroad and barge commerce on and along the Mississippi River. Curving slightly inland, the trail runs through the city of Inver Grove Heights before meandering amidst the forests and landscapes of several nature preserves. After heading first through the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area, the trail then winds among the wooded, 200-foot bluffs in the Pine Bend Bluff Scientific and Natural Area (one of the least-disturbed natural areas along the Mississippi River in the metro area).

Just over 2 miles are still under development north of the Spring Lake Park Reserve, where the trail picks up again and winds through the bluff-top countryside northwest of Hastings before dropping down and crossing Lock and Dam No. 2 on the Mississippi River. After curving through downtown Hastings and crossing the Vermillion River, the trail ends near C.P. Adams Park.

At its northern trailhead, the South Saint Paul section of this trail links to another paved trail heading west to Kaposia Park and beyond, called the River to River Greenway. Connections to other trails are found along the route, including links to a network of trails throughout the city of Hastings. 

Restrooms, parking, and drinking water are marked on the map and are available at mutliple locations along the route, including Kaposia Landing, Simon’s Ravine Trailhead, Swing Bridge Trailhead, Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area (SNA), and Spring Lake Park Reserve.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at numerous points along the trail. Please view the map for all the locations and detailed directions. 

To access Simon’s Ravine Trailhead (northern section), from I-94, follow signs for US 10 E. Take Exit 242D to merge onto US 52 S. In 1.9 miles, take the MN 156/Concord St. exit, and turn left onto MN 156 S./Concord St. In 1.9 miles turn left onto Bryant Ave., and parking will be on the right.

To access the south end of the northern section, from I-94, follow signs for US 10 E. Take Exit 242D to merge onto US 52 S. In 12.5 miles take the 117th St. exit. Turn left onto 117th St. S.E., and in 0.2 mile turn left onto Courthouse Blvd. The trail is just behind the Pilot Travel Center. There are multiple other access points along the trail.

To access the Hastings trail section (southern section), from I-94, follow signs for US 10 E. Take Exit 242D to merge onto US 52 S. Go 13.6 miles, and take the MN 55 exit. Continue on MN 55/Courthouse Blvd., and go 4.4 miles east. Turn left onto Mississippi Trail, and go 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Idell Ave. In 0.5 mile turn left onto 127th St. E., and go 0.6 mile to reach Schaar’s Bluff trailhead in Spring Lake Park Reserve.

To access the southeastern trailhead in Hastings, from I-94 take Exit 244. Head south on US 10/US 61, and keep left on US 61/Hiawatha Pioneer Trail for 18.3 miles. Turn left onto 10 St E, and in 0.9 miles the lot will be on your right. Additional parking is available at Rivertown Dog Park. 

Mississippi River Regional Trail (Dakota County) Reviews

This was a fun ride on an overcast and humid day.The trail is wide, well marked, well maintained, and at least today, under utilized. Minorly disappointed as we felt the trail was more urban and industrial than we anticipated.

This was a fun ride on an overcast and humid day.The trail is wide, well marked, well maintained, and at least today, under utilized. Minorly disappointed as we felt the trail was more urban and industrial than we anticipated.

beautiful trail with potential

Beautiful views of the river, some nice shaded parts and some areas to pull off to see the views or read about the area. The only downside is that processing plant smells are overwhelming at times.

We went rollerblading with the kids and it was nice and smooth. Highly recommend.

We went rollerblading with the kids and it was nice and smooth. Highly recommend.

Fabulous Trail

I have done both sections of the trail several times. For the So. St. Paul to Pine Bend Trail End I like to start at Simon's Ravine because their are usually parking spots available. This section is a good day's ride for me and it is very interesting because of the mix of river and woods trails with fun street trails.

For the Hastings section I like to start at the Lower Spring Lake Park Reserve Trailhead. It is a huge parking lot and it is where the Hastings section starts. It is about 4 miles of beautiful trail and it runs through Schaar's Bluff. Then it is around 7 miles from there to Hastings. It is a good mix of open country, woods, and street trails. I love where the trail drops through a hillside settlement on to a levee going across the Mississippi then along the locks into the city. There are many great places to eat and drink close to the trail.

This is a beautiful trail and I can't wait for the Pine Bend section to be connected to the Lower Spring Lake Park section. That would make it world class!

Accordion

Nice ride along the river

I fairly level ride along the river. Can be a bit on the busy side, especially on the northern end, but still worthwhile. Some stops along the way for water and for scenic overlooks.

serene

Lots of bluffs and river sites - plenty of sight-seeing. Flat? Not so much but well maintained.

We started at the Simon's Ravine trail head parking lot. Nice, flat asphalt trail that was perfect for our 6 and 8 year old. Cool too see barges and trains but also a lot of nature and pretty views.

We started at the Simon's Ravine trail head parking lot. Nice, flat asphalt trail that was perfect for our 6 and 8 year old. Cool too see barges and trains but also a lot of nature and pretty views.

Nice!

South from Heritage Village Park is a stretch that has a blend of street/road/trail that has a more challenging BUT is extremely scenic area that is well worth the effort to go ride. I have been down just past the end of the trail to Mosaic industry property where the pavement turns into gravel and that is about 9.5 miles south of Heritage Village Park. I haven’t gotten all the way to Hastings yet.

From industrial to pristine

This is a well-maintained trail that takes you from South St. Paul, along the Mississippi River Levy all the way south to the Inver Grove Heights/Rosemount refinery area. There are some hills and a variety of landscape. The southern portion goes through the Pine Bluffs nature preserve and then ends, where the trail will eventually connect all the way to Hastings. It’s a diverse ride that is enjoyable.

Fun Trail Ride - Some Ups and Downs

We started at the Petro Truck stop just off of Hwy 52 and 117th Street. Upon finishing our ride, we determined that there is a nice trailhead, appears to be just north of this truck stop. We used the truck stop and headed out on the trail just out of the south end of the parking lot.

Overall the trail was in great condition and well marked. The only spot that we did not see any marking was at the intersection of Cahill and Concord Boulevard. We continued north and went up into the neighborhoods of Inver Grove Heights - also a nice continuance of the trail. One of the riders in our party did head "east" along Concord down to the Swing Bridge Park. This was also a great section of trail, challenge is that you are going down hill to the river, so the return means that is UP hill from the river. Manageable but a good climb.

I will be back again to ride further into St Paul via the trail!

beautiful scenery

Fairly well maintained. Went 5 miles out of Hastings and back with our son. Goes right along the Mississippi River. Lots of birds to watch and wasn't crowded despite being a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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