WalksThese selected walks are generally on hard-surfaced trails, relatively level and generally shorter than hikes. They also usually have amenities, such as restrooms and drinking water and easy access/parking.
Mill Ruins Park
102 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. The Mill City Museum is a great stop to learn even more about this fascinating area and has a small cafe as well.
Extend the Walk: Walk along the Stone Arch Bridge for great views of the river. The locks were closed in 2015 as the amount of freight that moved through this area. The closure also helps prevent the upriver movement of Asian Carp, an invasive species.
Parking: 100 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55401, GPS: 44.980654, -93.259310
Stone Arch Bridge
100 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55401
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. We recommend parking on the streets on the east end of the bridge. There are also restaurants near here as well.
Extend the Walk: For the more adventurous, take the stairs down into Pillsbury Park. Off to the right are the massive water outflow 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.
Parking (west): 100 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55401, GPS: 44.980654, -93.259310
Parking (street parking, east): In the vicinity of 413 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN 55414, GPS: 44.982886, -93.251535
Water Power Park
204 Main St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, GPS: 44.983742, -93.253622
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 may be limited, especially in winter. There are restaurants located within easy walking distance along the east side of the river.
Extend the Walk: Walk along the Stone Arch Bridge for great views of the river.
Parking: Street parking in the vicinity of 420 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN 55414, GPS: 44.983087, -93.252156
Minnehaha Regional Park
4801 South Minnehaha Park Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55417, GPS: 44.984108, -93.254675
The Minnehaha Regional Park contains 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.
Parking: Parking is available in a number of lots and street-side cutouts. There is a parking fee, although admission to this park is free.
5601 Minnehaha Drive South, Fort Snelling, MN 55111, GPS: 44.901526, -93.197771
Coldwater Spring has had a rich and varied history. It was here in the early 1820s that US soldiers camped while constructing nearby Fort Snelling, that solidified US claims to the area. The soldiers were followed by a rapidly developing community that included Metis, fur traders, blacksmiths and adventurers and eventually tourists. The area was then abandoned for a time, served as a park, and eventually was the home of the Bureau of Mines--Twin Cities. The quarter-mile long accessible trail leaves the parking lot and traverses restored prairies and oak savannas to the spring house and reservoir that at one time provided water to the Fort and Upper Post. There are no restrooms or restaurants at this location, but both exist seasonally at the nearby Minnehaha Falls Regional Park.
Extend the Walk: This becomes more of a hike, although not a long one (about a mile). Continue on past the spring house. The trail crosses the creek, runs up a gentle grade into another prairie area before turning to the left and continuing down into the woods. The footing is rough and steep towards the end of this section on an informal trail. Turn left onto the blacktopped bike trail and head back towards the parking lot. Watch for a wooden stair case on the left. Take it up the slope where you will break out of the forest and see the parking lot in the distance. The path from here is an informal, hard-packed dirt trail.
Parking: Available on site, but limited. There is additional fee parking on the access road.