Sunrise Prairie Trail


19 Reviews

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Sunrise Prairie Trail Facts

States: Minnesota
Counties: Chisago
Length: 16.2 miles
Trail end points: Maple Street (North Branch) and 240th Street North (Forest Lake)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016322

Sunrise Prairie Trail Description

The Sunrise Prairie Trail runs north-south atop an unused right-of-way along a Burlington Northern Railroad corridor, traversing residential neighborhoods in the towns and mostly farmland in its middle section. The trail also runs through hardwood forests and crosses several wetland areas. It crosses both the west and the south branch of the Sunrise River before changing to the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail in downtown Forest Lake. Wildlife is abundant, and you may see grouse, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl, in addition to native prairie and wildflowers.

The trailhead in North Branch, located at the intersection of MN 95 and Forest Boulevard/County Road 30, offers ample parking, restrooms, and a picnic area. More facilities are available at the midway trail access in Stacy, including parking, restrooms, and water. One mile south of the trail’s crossing of the South Branch of the Sunrise River, the town of Wyoming has a toilet.

The trail becomes the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail once it reaches West Broadway Avenue in downtown Forest Lake. Combined, the two trails provide more than 24 miles of trails between North Branch and Hugo. The uncrowded, low-trafficked stretches between towns make the Sunrise Prairie Trail an excellent route for uninterrupted training rides.

Parking and Trail Access

In North Branch, take I-35 to Exit 147. Go 0.6 mile east on MN 95 to Forest Blvd./County Road 30. Turn right, go south one block, and turn right onto Maple St. to reach the trailhead on the southwest corner of the intersection of Forest Blvd. and Maple St.

The Stacy trailhead is located just off the I-35 exit. Take I-35 to Exit 139. Head 0.3 mile east on Stacy Trail/CR 19 to Lions Park on the right.

In Wyoming take I-35 to Exit 135 for US 61/Chisago County Road 22. Head 0.2 mile east on US 61/E. Viking Blvd. Turn left onto Forest Blvd., and go approximately 300 feet to the trailhead on the left. Public restrooms are available in the Giese Memorial Library across from the parking lot.

In Forest Lake, park at US 61 and Broadway Ave. Take I-35 to Exit 131. Head east 0.8 mile on W. Broadway Ave. Parking is on the left just after crossing US 61.

Sunrise Prairie Trail Reviews

Nice trail but bring map

The north end of the trail is beautiful, lots of nature. The mid section and southern end is a little less impressive. There are signs... but they can be easily missed, so I recommend bringing a map (or use TrailLink).


Beautifully paved (asphalt), flat and not busy. I live in the city of Minneapolis & drove 30 miles (each way) to go on a 25 mile bike ride. Totally worth it. It was a peaceful dream compared to the wonderful, but hectic, Minneapolis greenways and lake paths. Thank you to Washington County for investing in such a gem!

Smooth and Wide

This trail has been newly surfaced, so it is a nice smooth ride. It's not very busy so it is a good place to go for a family ride with younger children. However, there is nothing to see. If you get bored easily, this might not be the best trail for you. It is still worth doing once.

Sunrise Prairie Trail

UREKA!! The trail has been repaved! Not just an overlay, a complete dig-up of the old crap and about 4 +/- inches of new stuff laid down. It's really great. Smooth as a baby's behind.


Getting repaved August 2017

The trail is currently closed while it is getting a complete makeover.

20 years of trail use

Take heed from others that riding the Sunrise Prairie Trail with a road bike and 120 psi in your tires will be a jarring experience. The SRPT trail was initially paved in 1996 or '97 going from memory and is about 10 years beyond the need for a repave. It is a regional asset but talking to the Chisago Cty parks folks several years ago, they haven't been able to get financing from the Legacy Fund for repaving -- I do appreciate the county's efforts to fill cracks and patch potholes, but it's lipstick on a pig. I'm not sure how Hardwood Creek was able to get repaved when that segment is several years newer. Maybe Washington Cty financed the work?

Also, the author of the trail description was incorrect when he/she wrote "Although snowmobiles are technically prohibited, you will still find them along the trail during winter." Snowmobile use is technically permitted *along* the trail where horses are also allowed during the summer, but too many ride on the asphalt and rip up the asphalt with their studs (illegal to use on this trail).

1/4 star is more accurate

This is not a road bike trail. It's horrid. It will ruin your bike, not to mention your body. It was supposed to get resurfaced... never did. Go elsewhere

Still needs work

There may be plans to repave the trail but that is all it is as of Monday(7/25/2016). It is a very rough ride with lateral cracks at extremely high frequency. Otherwise a typically nice trail to ride on as long as it isn't too hot (out in the sun). I rode the Cannon Valley trail on Tuesday and was glad of the shade there given how hot it was.

Sunrise Prairie Trail

I live 400 feet from this trail. Because it is so full of cracks and holes I haul my bike to Forest Lake and ride Washington county's Hard Wood Creek trail. Washington county recently repaved their part of this system and it is great! Hold on, I just found out Chisago county is planning a major repave of their Sunrise portion in 2016. The original Sunrise trail disintegrated so heavily because of a lack of basic maintenance. Hopefully a well designed maintenance program will be implemented this time.

Sunrise Prairie and Hardwood Creek trail review

This trail runs seamlessly together with the Hardwood Creek Trail to complete 24 miles of trail running from Hugo to North Branch. The Hardwood Creek portion runs from downtown Hugo to just North of Forest Lake and then the Sunrise Prairie portion picks it up from there. There is a definite difference in the quality of the asphalt between the two trails. Hardwood Creek is freshly paved and a very nice ride. Sunrise Prairie has cracks running the width of the trail about every five or ten feet which creates a rhythmic bumpiness to your ride but the asphalt is otherwise in good shape for riders with crossbike or mountain bike size tires. Despite other riders comments, there are no potholes or upturned pavement anywhere on this trail. The Hardwood Creek portion mostly keeps you within site of the road and the Sunrise Prairie portion gets you out of site of the road and into nature but you can still hear the road off in the distance for a major portion of the trail. Both trails keep you out in the sun so not recommended for a hot day. Overall a good ride with a nice stop in Forest Lake for ice cream and good lake views.

Parts need work...

I am big on biking right now and did not like the Forest Lake to Wyoming part of this trail. It is in bad shape for paved. I would not take a street bike on this section at all. From the parking in Wyoming to Stacy the path is OK but you run alone 35 so expect a lot of noise. The scenery though is nice. Between Stacy and North Branch the trail is wonderful. It will need work soon but its fairly smooth and scenic and little road noise. You will see some wildlife if you go ear;ly in the day such as Deer, Squirrel, Chipmunks, Herrings, Snakes and such.


Road yesterday north branch - south. Cracks every few feet, filled with plant growth and sand. Needs resurfacing!! Very bumpy ride on road bike. Such a terrible waste!

need to watch trail all the time

If you have a nice road bike, tire 120 psi watch out, there are so many cracks from Wyoming to Forest Lake, and from Wyoming to North Branch, the part from Forest Lake down to Hugo was just REPAVED, it is awesome, the problem is i need the miles so I must start earlier than Forest Lake, I road again last night, because of how bad the trail is I usually drive the 45 miles to Stillwater just to ride the nice Gateway Trail, but time did not permit last night, what a mistake. You always have to be alert and looking down at the trail to avoid the potholes, and even with that the trail is so bumpy by time I was done my shoulders and neck hurt. I am an avid ride, 65 to 100 miles at a time on weekends so a nice short 30 mile ride after work is nice, but NOT on this trail. I will not make the mistake again and ride this trail with a road bike unless they do something about the quality of the trail. It's to bad, it's such a beautiful ride too. Be careful and be alert!

Neglected Sunrise Prairie Trail

If you are bicycle riding this thing with 110 psi of air expect bone jarring cracks in the pavement to shake you up good. Not just a few cracks, MANY. I ride it with 60 psi in tires that should have 110 psi. It's the only way I can stand it and I ride a recumbent which is an order of magnitude more comfortable than an upright. There was talk of filling the multitudes of cracks this year, 2014, but that didn't happen. This spring a little ways past highway 17 going north a section of this trail was removed because it was so dangerous. Now there is about 200 feet+- of dirt. The tail is well suited for walking but any thing with wheels, forget it.

A Great Way to Get Out of the Cities

This is a very easy, safe, comfortable ride. Little change in elevation. Anyone can ride this trail. No hard bends. If you are heading north from the cities, this and the adjoining Hardwood Creek trails are definitely the best, most efficient way out of town!

If you want an easy, safe trail to ride with your kids... this is a good choice. There are places to get ice cream, etc in the cities along the way.

This is a moderately pretty trail. At times it is open and in sight of I-35, but more often it is tree lined and quietly spaced between I-35 and US 61.

I don't know that I'd consider this a true destination trail... but this trail is a great and enjoyable means of getting out of the crowded cities.

Sunrise Prairie Trail

I'm sure they are with in the speed limit? A joke, right? Visit the trail some winter Friday night after "last call for alcohol" at the local bars.

Really nice trail!

Beautiful scenery and the pavement on this trail is in very good condition, we walk and ride bike on this trail nearly every day. The snowmobiles do get a bit loud in the winter but they have to have their fun too right?! Besides, I plan on joining them one of these years. :) It is very nicely groomed in the winter and I have no problems with how fast the snowmobilers travel on it. I'm sure it's within the speed limit.

Sunrise Prairie Trail

I live on this trail and use it every day in the summer time. We are in winter now and the snowmobile freakoids have taken over. Even though the rules say no studs and no use of the paved surfaces it is very obvious the trail is getting more and more gouged up every year. And a speed limit? What a joke! They go by my house at 80 MPH plus! I am going to rent a radar gun and record some speeds and turn the results over to the police. I hope we don't get any snow this year!

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