Part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, this trail is popular to road runners and cyclists. Though the trail has designated pedestrian and cycling pathways, be cognizant of cyclists passing on your left. Also, a part of the Minneapolis Marathon Course, this is prime training ground for people wanting to work on their endurance.
What Makes It Great
Starting from the southeastern end of Lake Harriet, follow the signs to the Minnehaha trail and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Once you have passed Lynnhurst Park, the trail curves left and you find yourself running beside the Minnehaha Creek. In the beginning, there are many hills, but if you’re going east, then most of the hills are downhill. As you run, I would recommend taking off your earbuds and enjoying the sounds of the creek. In the early spring, the creek is high due to the ice out and rushes beside you, encouraging you to run faster and faster. When fall rolls around, the creek is calm and the maple and oak trees give the trail a golden-red glow.
It is approximately 5 miles to the Minnehaha Falls, and once you reach the falls, you can continue on the paved Grand Rounds trail to the Mississippi River Trail. But, if you want to see a majestic view of the falls and give your knees a break, then there are 10 miles of trail running within the Minnehaha Creek Valley. On a beautiful day, there is nothing better than visiting the Minnehaha Falls. It is a perfect rest point, since there is prime seating along the bridge at the base of the falls. Only 50 yards down the trail is a natural wading pool, where more than a few runners have lowered their achy, tired feet into Minnehaha’s rejuvenating cool waters.
From here, there are a plethora of trail options. Either you can run on the west or east side of the creek and each take you to the Minnehaha-Mississippi confluence. These trails are relatively flat and in total are about 2 miles round trip. If you wanted to work your glutes, there are two stone stairways that would be perfect for a post-run workout. There is also the option of joining the Minnesota Valley River Trail and running 3 miles to Fort Snelling State Park. With any option you take, Minnehaha Park’s running selection will not disappoint you.
After your workout, if you are feeling peckish or you need a restroom break, Sea Salt Eatery is just a stone’s throw away from Minnehaha Falls.
Who is Going to Love It
When the Chain of Lakes area is overcrowded with people, runners prefer the trails bordering the quiet Minnehaha Creek.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
One of the oddest shaped parks in the cities, Minnehaha Creek has two sections of park reserve: pre-waterfall and post-waterfall. Before the Minnehaha Falls, the trail begins south of Lake Harriet, adjacent to Lynnhurst Park. This 5 mile-long paved trail starts hilly, but eventually flattens out and meanders through groves of maple trees. The trail continues to twist and turn until you reach the falls.
There is parking available at Lynnhurst Park, Minnehaha Falls, and in the nearby neighborhoods just off the trail.