The Essential Guide to the River
Recreational opportunities abound within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Whether you are biking or walking along the river's shores, fishing in a floodplain lake, or boating its waters the new Mississippi River Companion is an excellent resource for finding rental bikes and mass transit options, biking and walking trails, boat landings, and many other recreational opportunities along one of the world's great rivers.
Maps in the Companion cover a 72 mile stretch of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers from roughly Ramsey in the north Metro area, through Minneapolis/St. Paul, to just south of Hastings, Minnesota. The map sections below start in the northern stretches and run south through the Twin Cities.
Download the entire set of maps (PDF, 4.2mb) or use the links below to download individual sections. These online documents do not include the historical narrative, suggestions and hints on using trails, or where to see wildlife. Visit the Mississippi River Visitor Center in the lobby of the Science Museum of Minnesota to get the full copy of the Mississippi River Companion.
Be sure to have your copy on hand whenever visiting this great river. You will find it to be an invaluable aid and faithful companion.
Section A: The Wild and Scenic River
North of the Twin Cities the Mississippi River is designated as a state wild and scenic river. The river begins to slow among undeveloped islands as it approaches the Coon Rapids Dam. Scenic views are still offered though the nature of the river slowly changes from wild to residential as one approaches Interstate 694. Moving further south along the river brings one into more suburban stretches of the river, including neighborhoods and some industry. Download the maps and legend for this entire section (PDF, 890kb).
Section B: The River of the Falls/The Urban River
Discover the birthplace of Minneapolis at St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge along with parks detailing the historic nature of this section of the river. Below the Falls the Mississippi carves a deep gorge with foot and bike trails paralleling the river on the bluff tops. Other trails take the hiker through parks, such as Minnehaha Regional Park, home to a 53-foot tall falls made famous in Longfellow's poem, "The Song of Hiawatha."
Download the maps and legend for this entire section (PDF, 808kb).
Section C: The Gorge/Where the Rivers Meet
The river continues south through the Mississippi River Gorge eventually reaching the confluence with the Minnesota River. Th confluence of these two great rivers is of special importance to the Dakota. Numerous historic locations dot this stretch of the river.
Section D: The Working River
Experience peaceful trails within sight of downtown St. Paul, but also watch tow boats pushing barges. St. Paul was home to Lambert's Landing, once one of the busiest steamboat ports in the country. Venture away from the river in Battle Creek or wander through ancient burial mounds at Indian Mounds Regional Park.
Download the maps and legend for this entire section (PDF, 865kb).
Section E: The Forested Floodplain
South St. Paul's levee trail showcases nature and industry coexisting much like it has for years. Trains, blue herons, business parks. The river widens below South St. Paul and the bluffs are higher and there are numerous backwaters and channels to explore by canoe or kayak. The river begins to lose its urban trappings and becomes wilder again.
Download the maps and legend for this entire section (PDF, 1.6mb).
Last updated: November 22, 2019