Twin Citizens are fortunate to have such easy trail access to Minnesota's beautiful countryside. Thanks to the Luce Line Regional Trail, Minneapolis runners (and cyclists) have a pedestrian pathway that takes them all the way to Wayzata. From Wayzata the Luce Line Regional Trail turns into the Luce Line State Trail, which continues west for another 63 miles.
What Makes It Great
Runners who have keen eyes may catch a glimpse of whitetail deer, owls, wild turkeys, or pheasants. During the spring and summer, waterfowl cross the Luce Line with their ducklings in tow. The ducklings may impede your run by a small margin, but it’ll be one of the highlights of your day.
Surprisingly, the first 20 miles feature a few steep climbs that give your lungs and glutes a good workout. Once the hills stop, the trail starts a rolling incline that continues through the very end of the trail. The total elevation change ends up being about 100 feet. Past Winstead, the trail changes from packed limestone to a packed aggregate base. Still runnable and bikeable, be careful of larger rocks strewn across the trail
Farther down the trail, Hutchinson offers an adorable main street full of antique shops and boutiques. Just past Hutchinson is Otter Lake, which provides some of the best scenery of the whole run. Especially at sunset, the photographic opportunities are endless. Past Cedar Mills, Luce Line Regional Trail becomes less developed and the trail has a larger rock foundation. Mostly used by mountain bikers, this trail is filled with ankle-turning rocks and is not recommended for your long distance run.
Though a lot of cyclists consider doing an overnight stay during their cross-country tours on Luce Line, this is a less popular option for runners. If you want to spend a whole weekend exploring Minnesota’s beautiful countryside, then consider extending your run by spending an evening in one of the quaint small towns that crosses paths with Luce Line Regional Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
One of the few trails that connects downtown Minneapolis with rural Minnesota, the Luce Line State Trail is a great way to get out of the city.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Luce Line Regional Trail trail officially starts northeast of Wayzata, but since Minneapolis is so bike-friendly, there are a handful of non-motorized pathways to get there from the city center. There is a trail exit at Theodore Wirth Park that connects with the Luce Line Regional Trail. This connection is paved with asphalt and dances through Minneapolis’ suburban wilderness for 11-miles until reaching Plymouth.
From Plymouth to Winstead, the first 30-miles of the trail is paved with packed limestone, which offers fine tread for runners and cyclists. It isn’t until you pass Wayzata that you see what this trail is all about. Luce Line grazes the north side of Wayzata, so if you are feeling parched or hungry, Wayzata has some great food options and beautiful views of Lake Minnetonka.
Most runners start at Wayzata, so that they can fully appreciate running through the quiet countryside. In this section, the trail stays relatively flat and meanders through Minnesota’s scenic rural landscapes.You’ll pass through grassy pastures, tranquil prairie meadows, and tall stands of basswood and sugar maple. There are a few small ponds and a couple of lakes that offer pleasant boardwalks or bridges to run on. Gleason and Oak Lake are very popular among local long distance runners.