Sunday, October 11, 2015

Multi-use trail crosses Twin Cities' east side

Pine Point County Park along Gateway State Trail.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR.

Gateway State Trail heads about 10 miles through Washington County, Minn.

A former rail line turned multi-use trail offers a number of walking experiences for hikers on Minneapolis-St. Paul’s east side.

18-mile Gateway State Trail stretches from Pine Point County Park northwest of Stillwater, Minn., to St. Paul’s Cayuga Street in neighboring Ramsey County. At one time, the trail was a Soo Line Railroad grade.

As a former rail line, the trail is level, and with it now paved, is wheelchair accessible.

The more rural section of the trail is in Washington County, where there are three access points with parking lots. Four such access points can be found in Ramsey County.

Starting from the northeast corner and heading southwest toward St. Paul, those points include:

Pine Point County Park
The trail runs 4.2 miles to just north of Duluth Junction. Along the way, the trail crosses a creek and passes two picnic areas. Much of this segment passes farm fields; west of the bridge over Manning Avenue, some of those fields are being converted back to prairie, just as the pioneers found them back in the mid 1850s. An unpaved parallel trail is for horseback riding. A fee is charged to enter the park.

Gateway Trail Bridge over Minn. Hwy. 96 bridge
The next segment, which runs 4.9 miles to a parking lot off of 55th Street east of Hadley Avenue, is increasingly more urban. The trail begins with a nice stretch near Lake Masterman but by its end crosses busy Minn. Hwy. 36 and Interstate 694. The horseback trail ends at the western end of this segment. Parking is located in a lot off of Minn. Hwy. 96 where the trail’s bridge crosses the road.

55th Street parking lot
The next 2.3 miles mostly parallels busy Hwy. 36 as it leaves Washington County for a parking lot off of 2nd Street North between North St. Paul Drive and 4th Avenue east in North St. Paul. The 55th Street north lot marks the trail’s half-way point.

Plans call for extending the trail northeast from Pine Point Park to William O’Brien State Park.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.