One of the best scenic trails in Minnesota is Dakota County’s Big Rivers Regional Trail. It features paved paths along the state’s oldest rail beds and offers spectacular views of Fort Snelling, Pike Island, skyline views of both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul and the Mississippi and Minnesota River valleys. The Big Rivers Regional Trail is 4.35 miles long; however, there are also connecting routes from this main trail to add more miles and site seeing.
Harriet Island, Downtown Saint Paul
As you travel northeast on the Big Rivers Regional Trail towards Lilydale Road, continue on Lilydale Road along the Mississippi River. Right as you pass Pool & Yacht Club on your left, you’ll see a trail begin on your right. This trail curves throughout Lilydale Regional Park and ends at Harriet Island in downtown Saint Paul.
Fort Snelling State Park
As you travel northeast on the Big Rivers Regional Trail from the Stone Overlook Trailhead, you’ll pass underneath the Hwy 55 overpass/Mendota Heights Bridge and see Saint Peters Church on your left. Immediately, you’ll see a trail connection on your left-hand side (before pathway tunnel). Please be advised you will have to cross Hwy 13 at your own risk. The trail connection takes you across the Mendota Heights Bridge, traveling northwest on the right-hand side. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll be entering Fort Snelling State Park.
See above Fort Snelling State Park. From Fort Snelling State Park after crossing the Mendota Heights Bridge, keep on the paved path. You’ll see Historic Fort Snelling on your left, then continue down a large hill. Please use caution. As you come to the bottom of the hill, keep left on the paved trail. Continue to travel northeast along the west bank of the Mississippi River until your reach Minnehaha Park.