- Find a Trail
- My TrailLink
- Explore Trails
- About Us
- Get Involved
Named after a Seneca Indian chief who lived in the area until the 1830s, the Red Jacket Trail runs along an old Milwaukee Road (formerly the Minnesota Railroad and the Central Railroad) right-of-way that became inactive in 1978. The Red Jacket Trail begins at the restored depot along the banks of the Minnesota River, west of downtown Mankato, and runs to the village of Rapidan. In Mankato, the trail branches off from the North Minnesota River Trail, which continues along the waterway to the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail.
The popular Red Jacket Trail utilizes three converted railroad trestles, including the stunning Red Jacket Trestle, which is more than 80 feet high and 550 feet long and traverses the Le Sueur River and busy MN 66 near the trail’s southern end. Major floods in 2010 damaged one of the trestle’s abutments, forcing the bridge to close. The trestle has since been repaired and is back in full service. Two smaller bridges cross just a mile or two south of the Red Jacket Trestle.
The Red Jacket Trail extends southward away from downtown Mankato, passing commercial properties before cutting directly through one of the city’s older neighborhoods. After about 1 mile, the scenery changes to heavily wooded forest; this landscape continues for the rest of the trek to Rapidan.
At Hawthorn Road, a short section of trail is shared with the South Route Trail, which takes bikers and walkers northwest along County Road 90 for about 4 miles to the southern section of Minneopa State Park. A pure strain of American bison was introduced to the park’s northern section in the fall of 2015.
Before reaching Rapidan, be sure to spend time at Red Jacket Trail Park. The park contains a picnic shelter, canoe launch, and parking lot, and offers breathtaking views of the trestle. In Rapidan, follow the paved shoulder on 552nd Avenue a short distance south to access the heart of the small village.
A noteworthy side trip is to follow CR 9 west from Rapidan about 2 miles to Rapidan Dam Park for more parking, restrooms, and an expansive view of the Blue Earth River Valley.
In Mankato, parking can be found downtown, about one block east of US 169 where it intersects with S. Riverfront Drive. Take I-35 to Exit 56. Turn left (southwest) onto MN 60, and go 31.1 miles. Turn right onto US 14, and go 8 miles. Take the Riverfront Drive exit, and turn left onto Riverfront Drive. Go 2.7 miles, and turn right onto Stoltzman Road, where parking is available. The trail is one block west.
Mankato Area Public Schools and Mankato Family YMCA both have large parking lots adjacent to the trail.
Just southwest of Mankato, parking and portable toilets are located at Weagel Park. Take I-35 to Exit 56. Turn left (southwest) onto MN 60, and go 31.1 miles. Turn right onto US 14, and go 10.1 miles. Take the MN 60/US 169 exit toward Mankato. In 2.9 miles take the Riverfront Drive exit toward MN 66. Turn right onto S. Riverfront Drive, and in 0.2 mile turn left onto Sibley St. In 0.2 mile turn right onto W. Seventh St. Take the first left onto MN 66/Carney Ave. In 1.4 miles turn left onto Indian Lake Road, and parking will be on the right.
Additional parking and a picnic shelter are located at Red Jacket Trail Park. Take I-35 to Exit 56. Turn left (southwest) onto MN 60, and go 31.1 miles. Turn right onto US 14, and go 6 miles. Take the MN 22 exit, and turn left onto MN 22. Go 4.8 miles, and turn right onto County Road 90. Turn left onto MN 66, and go 0.7 mile. Turn left, and parking will be on the right.
TrailLink is a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails conservancy
(a non-profit) and we need your support!