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The Brown’s Creek State Trail, which opened in October 2014, is a 5.9-mile addition to Minnesota’s extensive Willard Munger State Trail system. The rail-trail stretches from the St. Croix riverfront town of Stillwater to meet up with the popular Gateway State Trail in the town of Grant, thus becoming part of the expansive Willard Munger State Trail system. With this connection, trail users have direct access to the St. Croix River via off-road trails from the capital city of Saint Paul to Stillwater.
The paved route follows the former Minnesota Zephyr line that operated a dinner train along the route until 2008. Noted for its scenery, the route passes through woodlands along a 2-mile stretch of dedicated trout stream and through a mile-long corridor alongside the St. Croix River, a National Scenic Riverway and Minnesota’s only river in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The trail passes several historic sites. It also enables users to connect to local and regional parks and trails in the Stillwater area.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has installed a bicycle tune-up station in downtown Stillwater, two blocks south of the trail near Water Street. A second station is proposed for the Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve, located about halfway along the trail west of Stillwater.
Restrooms are located 0.25 mile south of the eastern trailhead at the pedestrian walkway, and seasonally at the Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve on Neal Avenue, halfway along the trail on the left. A seasonal portable toilet is also located on the Gateway State Trail at MN 96, 0.25 mile northeast of the intersection with the Brown’s Creek State Trail.
To access the trail in Stillwater, from Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 8.5 miles. Turn left onto MN 95 N./St. Croix Trail. In 2 miles, parking will be on the left at Laurel St.
Midway on the trail, parking is available at Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve. From Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 5 miles. Turn left onto Manning Ave. N., and go 2.6 miles. Turn right onto McKusick Road N., and in 1 mile, turn right onto Neal Ave. N. Parking will be on the right in 0.1 mile.
To access the trail in Grant, from Saint Paul, take I-694 to Exit 52B. Merge onto MN 36 E., and go 0.5 mile. Take the exit toward Hilton Trail, and follow Hilton north 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Stillwater Road/75th St. N., and go 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Jamaca Ave. In 1.9 miles, turn right onto MN 96/Dellwood Road. Parking will be on the right near the trestle bridge at 1.4 miles. Follow the Gateway State Trail southwest 0.25 mile to reach Brown’s Creek State Trail.
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