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The Ox Cart Trail threads through four parks on the east bank of the Mississippi River, in the City of Sauk Rapids. The trail takes users on a journey through time as well as space, as it occupies the path of the original Red River Ox Trail route, along which caravans of ox-drawn carts transported goods and furs between St. Paul and Winnipeg, Canada. The ox cart trail's heyday was in the middle of the 19th century, but railroad expansion made them obsolete.
The modern-day Ox Cart Trail is a two-lane, paved recreational trail beginning at Southside Park. The park features a river promenade on what was once the roadway abutment for a removed bridge. The park, and the adjacent Lions Park, provide scenic river views. The trail ducks under the Sauk Rapids Regional Bridge and uses River Avenue to bridge the gap to the next off-street trail segment. The popular Municipal Park lies at about the mid-point. A range of facilities offers something for everyone - there are sports grounds (basketball, volleyball, softball), a playground, a boat landing and picnic tables, grills and a pavilion. The trail is shaded by mature oak trees. It emerges onto River Avenue, and the bike route continues northwest, under the State Route 15 bridge into Island View Park. With its gothic arches and stone imprinted-concrete, the Bridge of Hope is bound to leave an impression and it will be hard to resist taking at least one photo. The trail winds through the trees and ends at the northern end of the park.
The Ox Cart Trail is open for non-motorized uses and allows visitors to explore the Mississippi's scenic banks.
Parking is available at the parks along the route:
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