Mississippi River Visitor Center Walking Tour
120 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul MN 55102
This self-guided walk provides an introduction to the geology, history, and nature of the Mississippi River. Plan on spending about 90 minutes on this 1.5 mile walk starting at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. The Visitor Center (free) is in the lobby of the museum. Ask for the walking tour brochure at the cashier’s desk. The Museum has restrooms and meals available in no-fee areas and parking is available at the ramp behind the Museum.
Mill Ruins Park (Google Map)
103 Portland Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Mill Ruins Park lies southeast of the Stone Arch Bridge on the west bank. The suggested walk takes paved or hard surfaced trails past the ruins of the flour mills and beneath the historic Stone Arch Bridge. Stroll past the mill races and ruins being sure to stop and read the interpretative panels along the way.
Suggested extensions: Walk along the Stone Arch Bridge for great views of the river. During the shipping season this is a great place to watch commercial barge and other shipping locking through the dam.
Stone Arch Bridge (Google Map)
The Stone Arch Bridge once carried James J. Hill’s flour-laden trains to eastern markets. On the east end of the bridge relax at the gazebo in Father Hennepin Bluff Park.The ancient portage trail around the falls used by fur traders, soldiers, explorers and Native Americans ran through this park, although no traces of it remain.Father Hennepin may have first spotted the falls he named St. Anthony from near this location.
Suggested Additions: For the more adventurous, take the stairs down into Pillsbury Park. Off to the left are the massive tunnels that once powered the Pillsbury mills. Watch for great blue herons fishing in the Mississippi River, and the many other species of birds that live and migrate through here.
Water Power Park (Google Map)
206 Main St SE Minneapolis, MN 55414
Water Power Park celebrates the location of the first commercial hydro-electric plant in the United States. Visitors can get close to St. Anthony Falls and feel its power. Numerous interpretive exhibits are located along the trails. The trail is approximately .7 miles and is hard-surfaced. There is no fee to visit, but hours are limited.
Minnehaha Regional Park (Google Map)
4801 South Minnehaha Park Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55417
A series of easy paved trails take visitors around the gorge rim into which spills the beautiful Minnehaha Falls. The more adventurous walker can reach trails in the gorge itself via a series of stone staircases and walk trails along the swiftly flowing Minnehaha Creek as it winds its way towards the Mississippi River. There are both restrooms and restaurants in the area. There is a parking fee.