Tag: Crosby Farm
Avid bikers, joggers, and dog walkers have been enjoying St. Paul’s paved path along the north side of the Mississippi River for a while now. But last month, a stretch of that path officially became the first signed section of the Mississippi River Trail, known as the “MRT” for short.
The MRT, which follows the river from its headwaters in Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, provides about 3,000 miles of on-road bicycle trails and pedestrian pathways. I personally think it’s an honor for St. Paul’s 17-mile (or so) stretch of trail to be the first official part of the MRT!
One day I was walking the path along Mississippi River Road when I spotted a barely noticeable break in the trees to my right. Curious, I leaned in to see more. A path! After a few more steps through the densely wooded space, a beautiful stone staircase unfolded before me, leading me down 102 steps to what felt like a hidden, shady retreat enhanced by the soothing purr of a stream. Sounds like some sort of dreamy fairytale, right?
To be honest, I thought I’d discovered a secret nature hideaway. There was no one else around. I practically expected leprechauns to pop out from the lush, vibrant green forest.
Turns out, it was the “Hidden Falls” portion of St. Paul’s Hidden Falls Regional Park. Not so secret after all! Still, when I brought my husband back a few days later, he confessed that in his 15+ years of living here, he’d never visited this particular part of the park.
As I continued wandering down the path, I came across the small, spring-fed “waterfall.” It was more like a trickle, but pretty nonetheless, and I’m sure it gets going in the springtime. The trail ends here and makes the perfect spot for a secluded picnic. Heading the other direction along the stream, I passed two gigantic bonfire pits— where I plan to return to with friends sometime—more lush green, and more beauty, until the path opened to a wide, grassy meadow dotted with big, old trees. This was the more publicly-known area of the park.
Up ahead I saw a parking lot where people in-the-know had simply driven in through the park’s north entrance off Mississippi River Road. Apparently I came in the back way—and in my mind, the more adventurous and scenic way.
Hidden Falls Regional Park feels like a one of St. Paul’s most scenic outdoor gems. Between the picnic areas, paths that wind along the Mississippi River and connect to Crosby Farm, a boat launch, and endless stretches of beach along the river, you could spend hours here just exploring. Or lounging in the grass. Or fishing for walleye, which I saw several folks doing. Or skipping rocks, like my husband did.
Now that I have discovered my not-so-secret secret hideaway, I’ll be back again and again. I’m sure I’ll see you there, but shhh—don’t tell too many people.
Where: Hidden Falls Regional Park, 1415 Mississippi River Blvd. S., Saint Paul, MN 55116
As someone who has lived in a lot of different states and cities, I’m continually impressed by the sheer number of active and outdoor options in St. Paul. Whenever I’m stuck for something to do or somewhere to go, I pull out a list of local parks or the city’s bike-hike trail map and always find a new place to go, or am reminded of an old favorite.
Today was one of those days. My 1-year-old just didn’t want to nap, so rather than fight it or do the same old thing in our backyard, I packed up my baby, my baby carrier and set off for a good, long walk.
I drove down Summit Avenue until it dead-ended at a parking lot on Mississippi River Road. From here, choose your direction. You can walk, run, bike, or rollerblade on the flat, smoothly-paved trail that runs both north and south along the bluff.
I prefer heading south toward the Ford plant. The right side of the trail is packed full of trees, and if you stop to peer through the densely-packed leaves, you’ll see the steep drop leading down to the Mississippi River. (Come back in late fall and you’ll have an expansive river view.) Benches perched along the trail make great spots to take a water break with your SIGG. High-end dream homes with perfectly manicured and landscaped lawns line the left side of the trail, on the other side of the street. Sure, there’s some traffic on the road next to the trail, but one of the things I like about urban trails and parks is the juxtaposition of gorgeous nature scenery and the “alive” feeling of people going about their business.
Today we walked 1.8 miles to the Ford Dam Scenic Overlook, which comes up shortly after passing under Ford Parkway. By the time you turn around and walk back, you’ve completed a nearly 4-mile walk! If you keep heading south/southeast, the trail meets all the way up with Hidden Falls Regional Park, and beyond that, with Crosby Farm.
After working up a sweat, I couldn’t pass up my craving for Izzy’s ice cream on the way home. What I love best about Izzy’s (aside from the ice cream obviously) is that it caters to one of my worst traits: my indecisiveness—especially when it comes to choosing just one flavor out of 20-something really amazing flavors. For the un-Izzied, here’s how it works: when you order a single or double scoop, you get an Izzy on top. An Izzy is a mini scoop just right for sampling a second flavor. My all-time favorite flavor is salted caramel, but their sorbets are tantalizing, too, so an Izzy of the coconut sorbet was just right. So much for all those calories I just walked off!
The next few weeks are packed with outdoor events worthy of planning for. Here are a few of my picks for getting outside, getting active, or cheering for your favorite athletes in St. Paul. I hope to see you out and about!
June 6: Who needs to travel to some far away, exotic destination for a volunteer vacation when you can get into nature and help spiff things up right here at home? June 6 is National Trails Day and there’s a local service project happening at St. Paul’s Battle Creek Regional Park. You’ll make new friends, feel good about your work, and get free lunch and a free wicking t-shirt. That’s the kind of staycation that’s way cheaper than, say, a volunteer vacation in Cambodia. Pre-registration is required. Contact Mikaela for more details at email@example.com or at 952-884-4315 x. 203.
June 7: There is a ton to do and see during one of St. Paul’s most festive days of the year—Grand Old Day—but for active types, get involved by signing up for a morning race. Choose from the in-line skate, 8K run, 1/2 mile youth run, or the 5K walk/jog and register here. Sports fans should head to the “Sporting District” between Fairview and Cambridge for interactive games, demos, and/or scrimmages by the Minnesota Rollergirls, Timberwolves, Minnesota Thunder, St. Paul Saints, and more.
June 10: Get absorbed in the high-speed energy of the Minnesota Bicycle Festival, which starts in St. Paul. Watch pro racers speed by (Mears Park is the best viewing spot) during the evening races. The women’s pro/elite race (40 laps) starts at 6 p.m.; the men’s race (45 laps) at 7:40 p.m. More info on the pro races is here. If you have kids under 12 who are budding racers, bring their bikes and helmets and sign them up for the Hoigaard’s Tour de Kids, which starts at 7:15 p.m.
June 13: REI is hosting its free Paddle Demo Day at Ft. Snelling State Park. Whether you’re a novice or a pro-paddler, you’ll find something at this Snelling Lake event. You can test boats and accessories, and get paddling tips from REI staff. Just bring a snack, water, and dress for getting wet. REI provides the boats, personal flotation devices (PFDs), paddles, plus a 15 percent off coupon good for the purchase of a full-price boat in case your passion for paddling is ignited. More info here.
June 14: The Happy Trails Family Nature Club is hosting a family walk at Crosby Farm Regional Park from 10 a.m.-Noon. The walk starts along a paved forest trail and goes to a soft, sandy beach along the Mississippi River. Happy Trails says about the event, “We will spend the majority of our outing playing and relaxing in this beautiful area on the beach. Kids will love testing their skills as they climb the bent-down-low trees in this area.” Feel free to bring a picnic! Meet near the pavilion in the first parking lot.
Now you have no excuse for hiking your same-old, well-worn trail or worse, getting stuck inside. Put on your hiking, running, walking or biking shoes and get out to enjoy the abundant active life that St. Paul has to offer!