The other day I hiked an urban section of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis.
Minnehaha Creek is a 22 mile tributary of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. It flows from Gray’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park, then a couple more miles from the Falls to the River. A dam at Gray’s Bay is used primarily to regulate lake levels in Lake Minnetonka and secondly to regulate water levels in the Creek -it can get hectic during spring melts when lake levels are high. This adjustable map shows Lake Minnetonka and the route of Minnehaha Creek to the Mississippi River -just drill down a couple of clicks for the added detail.
Lake Minnetonka is is over 14,000 acres in size and is the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is popular for fishing, swimming and boating during the summer, and ice-fishing, snowshoeing, x-country skiing and ice sailing in winter.
Minnehaha Creek flows through several western Twin Cities suburbs, including Minnetonka, Hopkins, Saint Louis Park, and Edina, and the city of Minneapolis. It is lightly fished during the summer and is well-known for canoeing and kayaking. It is hiked during the summer and snowshoed in the winter. Hiking along the Creek can be difficult since it passes through both public and private property. Numerous foot bridges and roadways cross the Creek as it moves through suburban and urban neighborhoods, a golf-course and numerous city parks along the route.
I hiked along the Creek from mile 11 in Edina, eastward through Minneapolis, into Minnehaha Park, where I visited the Falls and hiked below the Falls, along the Creek downstream to the Mississippi River- a hike I haven’t done in well over thirty years. After completing the hike I treated myself to a delicious fish sandwich, coleslaw and a craft-brew in the Park Pavilion. It was a great day, sunny and about 65 degrees! The following photos will give you an idea of the beauty available to residents and visitors to this ‘wilderness’ in the city, including some neighborhood parks along the route. I covered about 11 miles total, just the eastern half of the Creek -not the western section beginning at Lake Minnetonka.
Edina Mill was one of three located in the immediate area. The areas early history was defined by these mills built on the wild and rushing Minnehaha Creek. Local farmers brought their grains to these local mills located along the Creek. The mills supplied Union troops during the Civil War. Today these old mill sites are just historic landmarks, surrounded by million dollar+ homes and golf courses.
The Creek near 50th St. and Woodale Ave. is adjacent to the posh Edina Country Club and some very exclusive neighborhoods. Kids can often be seen fishing and canoeing along this section of the Creek, while families picnic in nearby Utley Park.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is responsible for maintaining the city parks, city lakes, an expansive system of walkways and bike ways, lake and river parkways, public ball parks and gyms in the neighborhoods.
The Washburn Community Library is located on Lyndale Ave So in Minneapolis, just a block from Minnehaha Creek and the Parkway. Minneapolis has an impressive system of neighborhood/community libraries scattered throughout the city.
This view is of Lake Nokomis near the Park/Community Building and it’s small parking lot. The sidewalks and bike trails can be seen going around the lake. Minnehaha Parkway is just behind us, and across the Parkway is the smaller Lake Hiawatha and a golf course owned by the Park Board.
Lots of pine and deciduous trees fill Minneapolis Parks and parkways throughout the city. The Ground Rounds Bike Trail system links Parks, bike and pedestrian trails, and city lakes throughout Minneapolis.
Minnehaha Creek continues flowing and enters Minnehaha Park where the Falls are located. Below the Falls, the Creek flows about a mile further where it enters the Mississippi River. The Veterans Hospital and Fort Snelling are nearby.
The crickets were deafening along this section of the Creek. The Creek valley walls rise a couple hundred feet and must contain the sounds of the water and the crickets – I’ve never heard anything like it before… so loud!
This elevated walkway spans about 100 yds of seasonal wetlands helping keep your feet dry. Note the blue blaze on the tree, marking the trail for those seeking reassurance! And of course the Creek is also nearby -tough to get lost on this section of trail!
Looking upstream on the Mississippi River near where Minnehaha Creek enters the River, the Ford Highbridge can be seen spanning the River. The Lock and Dam can be seen below the bridge. The Lock and Dam facilitates river traffic by raising and lowering the water level, allowing barge traffic as well as recreational boats to continue their upstream or downstream travel.
From here I returned up the opposite side of Minnehaha Creek, back to the Falls.
I hiked this on a Monday afternoon in early May, which accounts for the small crowds on the trails, near the Falls, and throughout Minnehaha Park. It would be a zoo here on the 4th of July or other similar holiday. Summer weekends would also prove very crowded.
Being retired, I generally do my best to avoid the crowds, especially when hiking; be it in Minnehaha Park, or in Glacier NP out in Montana. I’ll soon be heading up to Superior Hiking Trail and that too will be a mid-week trip. I try and save my weekends for family backyard BBQ, yardwork, and the occasional extended backpacking trips that require over a week to complete. I’m not anti-social, I just like to enjoy ‘the wilderness’ in some degree of peace and quiet. And I don’t like crowded trails. I’m sure you understand.
And to those who stumble upon me out on a quiet trail, maybe up along a scenic ridgeline somewhere, only to hear me shouting CQ, CQ, CQ into a radio… I apologize! 😉
73 de Mike, KEØGZT