Many of our hikes are in parks or green spaces but some feature city sidewalks. Below are a sampling of our popular Twin Cities hikes. Many more can be found over in our Posts using the category Hikes.
Arden Hills/Twin City Arsenal Hike (St. Paul)
Join the group for a hike in Arden Hills on a portion of the North Rice Creek Trail through a 113-acre portion of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant/Arsenal area. The Rice Creek North Regional Trail is a pedestrian and bicycle trail running southwesterly along Rice Creek from Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve in Anoka County to Long Lake Regional Park in Ramsey County
The Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) was built in 1941 and 1942 on four square miles of farmland to function as a self-contained community to support the national defense. During World War II, the plant produced more than 4 billion rounds of ammunition. After World War II, it engaged in repacking ammunition (completed in 1947) and demilitarizing unusable ammunition (completed in 1951.) The plant began producing ammunition again in 1950 and from 1950 to 1957, 3.5 billion rounds of small arms ammunition, 3.2 million 195-mm artillery shell metal parts, and 715,000 155-mm shell metal parts were produced. On standby status from 1958 until 1965, the plant was reactivated in 1966 and produced more than 10 billion rounds of various types of ammunition for the Vietnam War. An enclosed range was built on the site in the late 1960s to proof test cartridges.
Directions: The group will meet at the County Road I parking lot of the Rice Creek trail, east of I-35W. Take I-35W North from Minneapolis, exit on County Road I, and go East (right.) The parking lot is about 1/4 mile East of I-35W and is on the North side of the road.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Hike (Minneapolis)
Join the group for a hike among the butterflies and wildflowers of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Theodore Wirth Park.
School teacher and amateur botanist Eloise Butler developed the wildflower garden bearing her name in 1907. This was after the Park Board initially turned down her request and she successfully led a citizens’ campaign for the preservation of wildflower areas.
After the garden outgrew its original three-acre fenced site, and plants were vandalized or stolen, Butler begged for fencing, but Theodore Wirth was busy developing athletic facilities in the Park. Finally, in 1923, Butler spent $700 dollars of her own money to have the fence constructed. Wirth later offered to reimburse her for the cost of the fence.
Directions: Take I-394 West and exit at Penn Avenue, then go south to the Frontage Road. Proceed west and turn north (right) on Theodore Wirth Parkway. Proceed north to Glenwood Ave. Turn right onto Glenwood, then turn left into the Wirth Beach parking lot. We will meet at the Wirth Beach pavilion and walk the path to the wildflower garden’s back gate.
Gateway Trail/Arlington Street Hike (Minneapolis)
Join the group for a hike in St. Paul along a portion of the scenic Gateway Trail, a “rails-to-trails” converted trail that constitutes the Metro area portion of the Munger Trail.The trail was originally a Soo Line RailRoad rail line. The rail line was abandoned over 20 years ago and, after much controversy and some lawsuits, was converted into a biking/hiking &horse-riding trail by the State’s Department of Natural Resources.
Willard Munger (1911-1999) was a long time State legislator from Duluth and an ardent environmentalist. His many political accomplishments include creating recreational trails and authoring legislation that created the state’s Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Directions: Take I-94 to I-35E in downtown St. Paul and proceed north on I-35E to the Larpenteur Avenue/Wheelock Parkway exit. Proceed on the frontage road to Larpenteur Avenue, the second street connected to the exit off ramp, and turn east (right) on Larpenteur Avenue. Continue on Larpenteur Avenue to Parkway Drive (the third stop light after leaving the freeway) and then go northeast (left turn) on Parkway Drive. Parkway Drive becomes Frost Avenue after crossing Arcade Street/Highway 61 in Maplewood.
Park at the Flicek Park parking lot, 1141 Frost Avenue, which is about 7/8ths of a mile from the junction of Highway 61 and Parkway Drive/Frost Avenue. Flicek Park is primarily a set of baseball fields with a parking lot and is located on the north side of Frost Avenue, just across from a pontoon boat sales room and a dog grooming facility.
Snelling Lake/Fort Snelling State Park Hike (Minneapolis)
Join the group for a hike around Snelling Lake in Fort Snelling State Park.
In 1819, Col. Henry Leavenworth and his troops spent the first three winters in a cantonment or barracks of log houses on the southeastern or Dakota County side of the Minnesota River, about a third of a mile southeast from the site of the fort. “St. Peter’s Cantonment” took its name from the French and English name of the river and was also called “New Hope.” At the time of high water of the river in the spring, they moved to an upland prairie camping place, about a mile northwest of the fort site named “Camp Coldwater.”After three years of alternation in cabin and tent life at New Hope and Camp Coldwater, the troops moved into their barracks within the enclosure of the fort, in the late autumn of 1822. Prior to 1825, Fort Snelling was called “Fort St. Anthony,” alluding to the neighboring Falls of St. Anthony.
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 by 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 by the interpretive center.
Note: The Fort Snelling Historic Site, where we meet, is different from the Fort Snelling State Park, whose entrance is off the Post Road exit from Highway 5, just west of the main terminal exit to the airport.
Swede Hollow Park Hike (St. Paul)
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.” Subsequent 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.