Chain of Lakes Running

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About

Summary

In 2014, Forbes Magazine published an article called America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities, and ‘don’t cha know,’ Minneapolis won first place! With more parks per square mile than in any other major U.S. city and hundreds of miles of paved, interconnected bike loops, no wonder we are considered the healthiest city in the U.S.A. The Chain of Lakes is just a snippet of what Minneapolis has to offer for the urban runner.

Written by

Molly O'Connor

Distance

13.3 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

2.4 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

1/2 hour to as long as you want

Seasonality

All Seasons

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Yes

Fees Permits

No

None

Land Website

Chain of Lakes

Review

Intro

Five minutes drive southwest of Minneapolis’ downtown center, you will find paved pedestrian-only pathways bordering the beautiful Chain of Lakes. With 13.3 miles of interconnected loops and an avid running community, Minneapolis is blessed to have such an incredible selection of urban running routes within its city limits. 

What Makes It Great

Minnesota is known for its extreme temperatures, but don’t be surprised to see Minneapolitans running along the lakeshore in all types of weather. On a hot summer day, Lake Harriet is great for doing sprints, and then there is nothing more refreshing than working up a sweat and jumping into the cool lake water. During the winter, the City of Minneapolis plows most of its trails. So, on a frigid winter morning, put on your winter gear and take it nice and slow around Lake Calhoun. When Lake Calhoun freezes over, test your speed against cross-country skiers training for the City of Lakes Loppet.

If extreme weather isn’t for you, then don’t worry because Minnesota offers great running temperatures during the spring and fall. If the crowds of people at Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet deter you, then run underneath the Lake Street Bridge to Lake of the Isles. Though smaller, this lake offers more tree cover and flower blossoms in the spring. If you need to rehydrate or take a break, stop by the Kenwood Recreation Center at the northern most point of the lake.

For those who really want a workout, then make the big loop from Lake of the Isles to Cedar Lake and then back to Lake Calhoun! There are a few exit points from Lake of the Isles that take you to the Kenilworth Trail, which then leads you to the Cedar Lake Trail. The best way is by running to the west side of Lake of the Isles and then taking Kenilworth Place going west. After two blocks, you reach Kenilworth Trail. As a maple forest envelopes you, you will approach a fork where you can go right or left. If you want a more secluded run, then meander right, and within 5 minutes, you will see a trail exit for the East Cedar Beach on your left. This beach is quiet and perfect for another mid-workout cool down. 

After the beach, continue north on the Kenilworth trail. In 1000 feet, you reach a crossroads that boasts a fantastic view of the Minneapolis cityscape. Then turn left, following the signs that say Cedar Lake Trail and the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail. You will notice right away that the trees have disappeared and that you are now running among prairie grasses. During the mid-summer, the prairie flowers are in full bloom and visited by their busy pollinators. During the fall, many crickets and grasshoppers come out of their dens and hop beside you, joining in on your run. Continue along the trail until you reach the Cedar Lake Parkway Bridge. Take a left and follow the maple-lined North Cedar Lake Regional Trail back to Lake Calhoun.

Who is Going to Love It

The Chain of Lakes is a great destination for the runners who want to push their limits or just wants to have a relaxing jaunt. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There is pay-to-park parking lots or free parking along the lake edges. In the developed areas, the park is open from 6am to 10pm, but in the less developed areas, the park closes at 10pm.

Cedar Lake: 2.83

Lake of the Isles: 2.59

Lake Calhoun: 3.09

Lake Harriet: 2.79

Lake Nokomis: 2.70

Location

Chain of Lakes Running

Minneapolis, MN,
44.950054, -93.312131

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