WELCOME to Thursday Night Hikes 2017!

Thursday Night Hikers are a diverse gathering of people interested in enjoying the many outdoor spaces of the Twin Cities. Hikes are held every Thursday night, 7 pm to approximately 8:30 pm, from March through late November.

Check below for new hikes added each month. Then, join us — there are no fees or reservations — just show up at the evening’s location. Hikes are moderately paced and typically cover about four miles. (We hike in all types of weather unless it becomes severe.)


August 2017 Hikes


August 3, 2017: Sibley House Hike (Mendota) – Hike Leader: Chris Olson

Join the group for a hike along the Mississippi River–west from the Henry H. Sibley House Historic Site in historic Mendota, northern Dakota County.

Sibley House in Mendota MNHenry Hastings Sibley (1811-1891) was one of the most prominent names in early Minnesota history. He was a fur merchant at Mendota, the first governor of the State, and one of the original Regents of the University of Minnesota. His house was the office for his fur trading business, while its location, Mendota, was once considered for the capital of the State. After years of neglect, the house was purchased by the Daughters of the American Revolution, restored by them, and operated as a tourist site for almost 50 years. The site is currently managed by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Sibley House historical information

Directions: Meet at the Mendota Trail parking lot ¼ mile west of the Sibley House historic site in Mendota. Go south across the Mendota Bridge, then go east on Highway 110 to the North Highway 13 exit and go north on Highway 13 to Mendota. The bike trail parking lot where we will meet is midway between St. Peter’s Catholic Church (to the west, with a tall steeple on the top of the hill) and the Sibley House historic site (east, towards the bottom of the hill, in the middle of “downtown” Mendota.)

August 10, 2017: Thomas Lake Park Hike (Eagan) – Hike Leader: Linda Quammen

Join the group for a hike around scenic Thomas Lake Park and along the High Line Walking Trail in Eagan.Thomas Lake Park in summer

Thomas Lake Park’s paved trails loop around ponds, prairies, woodlands and Thomas Lake itself. The prairie’s 19 acres contain both native remnant and restored prairie that is actively managed to bring the land back to its original prairie quality. Over 80 species of prairie forbs (wildflowers,) 17 species of prairie grasses, and 12 species of trees can be found in the park.

Directions: Take I-35E south to Pilot Knob Road exit. At Pilot Knob Road turn south (right) then continue just past the intersection with Wilderness Run Road. Thomas Lake Park entrance is on the right side. Meet in the parking lot.

August 17, 2017: Lake Harriet Hike (Minneapolis) – Hike Leader: Tom Ellerbe

Join the group for a hike around scenic Lake Harriet in west Minneapolis.

Lake Harriet Park, MinneapolisLake Harriet was named for the wife of Col. Leavenworth, Harriet Lovejoy Leavenworth, who was married in the winter of 1813-14. Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and a city and county there were named in Col. Leavenworth’s honor.

Directions: Take I-35W South out of downtown Minneapolis to the West 46th Street exit. Proceed west (right) on West 46th Street ten blocks to Lyndale Avenue and turn south (left) and go four blocks to West 50th Street. Proceed west eight blocks on West 50th Street to the Lynnhurst Park parking lot, just north of the Lynnhurst Recreation Center, and just west of where Minnehaha Parkway, Humboldt Avenue South, and West 50th Street come together.

August 24, 2017: Swede Hollow Hike (St . Paul) – Hike Leader: Chris Olson

Join the group for an urban hike through historic “Swede Hollow” in St. Paul, along the southern portion of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail, and into the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

Swede Hollow is the ravine in St. Paul that once carried Phalen Creek to the Mississippi River. (Phalen Creek was diverted into the Belt Line Tunnel in the 1920’s.) Early Swedish immigrant settlers named the valley “Svenska Dalen” or “Swede Hollow.” Swede Hollow Directional SignsSubsequent Polish, Italian, and Hispanic immigrants moved into the squatter homes built along the sides of the ravine. In 1956, St. Paul Health Department officials “discovered” that Swede Hollow had no sewer or city water service. They declared it a health hazard, ordered the last 14 families to move out and destroyed the homes.

Once a former rail yard nestled at the foot of Dayton’s Bluff, the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary offers towering sandstone and limestone bluffs, pristine underground springs and dramatic views of the Downtown Saint Paul skyline. The sanctuary includes the remains of the North Star Brewery Cave and of Carver’s Cave, known to the Dakota as “Wakan Tipi” or house of spirits, which was a landmark to early European explorers.

Directions: From the west, take I-94 to the east side of downtown St. Paul to the East 7th Street Exit. After exiting, follow Wall Street a couple of blocks to East Seventh Street and go east (left.) Continue on East Seventh Street about nine blocks, past the Highway 52 bridge turnoff, to the trailhead, just past the intersection with Payne Avenue. From the east, take I-94 to the Mounds Boulevard exit. Continue on Mounds Boulevard to East Seventh Street and turn west (left.) Continue down the hill along East Seventh Street a long city block to the trailhead. A small parking lot and the trailhead are on the south side of the street. Meet in the trailhead parking lot. Additional parking is available on the street on Payne Avenue.

August 31, 2017: Luce Line Trail Hike (Plymouth) – Hike Leader: Chris Olson

Join the group for a hike along the Luce Line Trail, a “rails to trails” trail developed and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in Plymouth.

Luce Line Trail stretches 63 miles from the western metro suburb of Plymouth to the small town of Cosmos in west-central Minnesota. It was originally built as the Electric Short Line Railway from downtown Minneapolis to west central Minnesota by Colonel William Luce. The original intent of the line was to capture the farm to market traffic Luce Line Trailoriginating in central Minnesota and to provide transportation for people to downtown Minneapolis via electrically propelled trains. Passenger service on the railroad ended in 1947. The track was officially abandoned by the railroad in 1972 and was taken over by the State for a recreational trail in 1976.

Directions: The parking lot for the trail is located in Plymouth, off of 10th Ave. No. and Vicksburg Lane. Take I-494 to the Carlson Pkwy. Exit and go west on Carlson Pkwy. briefly, then turn right on Gleason Lake Rd. Continue on Gleason for a little more than a mile, and turn right on Vicksburg Lane. Continue on Vicksburg about ¾ mile. The entrance to the Luce Line is on the left, at 10th Ave. At the Cimarron Ponds housing development, turn as if to go into the development, then veer to the left to the parking lot.


July 2017 Hikes


July 6, 2017: Pike Island Hike (St . Paul) – Hike Leader: Chris Olson

Join the group for a hike around Pike Island, at the conjunction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, in historic Fort Snelling State Park. Pike Island is named for Lieutenant (later General) Zebulon M. Pike, who in 1805 made a treaty with the Dakota to purchase the tract on which Fort St. Anthony, later named Fort Snelling, was built in the years 1820-24.

Forest trailThe Dakota word “B’dote” means confluence and is the name for this place. It has the additional meaning as the place of creation or beginning of the Dakota people and for the world and life itself. Transliterated, “B’dote” became the name “Mendota” for the nearby town, the bridge, and the city.


Directions: From the west: Take Hwy 62/Crosstown Highway east to Highway 55, then proceed south on Hwy 55 towards the Mendota Bridge. Take the “Fort Snelling Historic Sites” exit (between the VA hospital and the Mendota bridge). Follow the signs to the Fort Snelling Historic Sites and park in the Fort Snelling Interpretive Center parking lot. Meet near the river overlook near the interpretive center.

From the east: Head west across the Fort Road/West Seventh Street/Highway 5 bridge from St. Paul’s Highland Park area and take the Highway 55 exit north. Take the “Fort Snelling Historic Sites” exit. Follow the signs to the Fort Snelling Historic Sites and park in the Fort Snelling Interpretive Center parking lot. Meet near the river overlook near the interpretive center. Note: The Fort Snelling Historic Site is different from the Fort Snelling State Park entrance which is off the Post Road exit from Highway 5, just west of the main terminal exit to the airport.

July 13, 2017: Central Park Hike (Roseville) – Hike Leader: Tom Ellerbe

Join the group for a hike around the varied lakes, woodlands, and wetlands of Central Park, the largest park in Roseville.

along the trailRoseville, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, and part of St. Paul originally were Rose Township. Roseville was settled by farmers in the 1840s. The population of the township in 1860 was 499, and by 1880, it had risen to 877. Early immigrants to the area moved from the eastern United States, Germany, Prussia, Ireland, Canada, and Norway.

Directions: From State Highway 36 (which is an east/west highway located due north of the St. Paul Midway district), take Lexington Avenue north approximately 1/4 mile to County Road B2. Turn east (right) on County Road B2 and proceed east ½ mile to Victoria Street. Turn north (left) on Victoria Street and proceed ¼ mile to the park. There will be ball fields to the east (right) and a large parking lot to the west (left). We will meet in the large parking lot to the west.

July 20, 2017: Rice Creek Regional Park Hike (Fridley) – Hike Leader: Chris Olson

Join the hiking group for a hike along Rice Creek in Fridley.

trail bridge

Rice Creek flows through a series of lakes and marshes in southern Anoka and northern Ramsey counties, eventually joining the Mississippi near Fridley. Its drainage basin is in the southern portion of the Anoka Sand Plain, which was formed after the last glacier retreated from the region about 12,000 years ago.

Indians occupied Rice Creek throughout the last 12,000 years, but population increased dramatically during the Middle Woodland period (2,600 to 1,100 years ago). Henry Mower Rice (1816-1894), for whom Rice Creek was named, settled in Manomin, as the area was initially named, in 1849,  In 1851, Abram McCormick Fridley (1817-1888), the person for whom Fridley was eventually named, settled in Manomin.

Directions: The parking lot we have historically used for this hike (Rice Creek Regional Park) is currently all dug up and behind a locked fence. The directions to the new parking lot are as follows:

From I-694, take the University Avenue exit and proceed north on University Avenue approximately 1.75 miles. Turn east on the 69th Avenue exit (but instead of taking a second right to 69th Avenue), continue straight on University Service Road. Take University Service Road to 71st Avenue and take a right (east). Follow 71st Avenue to its end which is a parking lot for Locke Park. We will meet in the parking lot.

July 27, 2017: Lebanon Hills Regional Park Hike (Eagan) – Hike Leader: Linda Quammen

Join us for a hike in Lebanon Hills Regional Park’s glacial moraine landscape containing almost 2,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, lakes, and ponds. We’ll be hiking much of the Voyagers Trail, including the newly completed bridge over Bridge Pond. (R.I.P. Crooked Bridge!) 

Lake JensenThe largest park in Dakota County, Lebanon Hills Regional Park is approximately 40% grassland. The remainder is wetlands and forests dominated by red oak. Flora and fauna are plentiful, including blazing star, pileated woodpeckers, swamp candles and white-tailed deer.

In the 1920’s, during Prohibition, this secluded area was exploited by bootleggers.With the passage of the 1974 Metropolitan Parks Act, the current regional park was formed and 99.5% of the land within the park boundaries was acquired.

Directions: Take I-35E south to the Cliff Road exit and go east on Cliff Road 3.6 miles to the Lebanon Hills Regional Park Visitor Center entrance, which will be on the right. Follow the road to the Visitor Center and meet in the parking lot close to the Visitor Center.

Afterward, you’re invited to join Linda at the Mason Jar restaurant’s patio for drinks, apps and conversation. The Mason Jar is on Cliff Road midway between Lebanon Hills and 35E, off Thomas Center Drive.

These Thursday Night Hikes are also usually listed on MEET UP sites 
Twin Cities Hiking and
Twin Cities Indoor/Outdoor Sports & Recreation