Five Places to Run in Rochester Minnesota
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Logging some miles is a great way to get to know a city. When I lived in St. Paul, I discovered many of my favorite coffee shops and restaurants by running in new neighborhoods, and would return later for a post-run treat. And when life’s adventures took me down Highway 52 to Rochester two years ago, I again laced up my running shoes and set out to discover my new city.
Whether you’re in Minnesota’s third-largest city for the Mayo Clinic or you are new to the city and searching for some great places to run, check out these five places to run in Rochester Minnesota.
1. Douglas Trail
The Douglas Trail is Rochester’s response to Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway. The trail lies in a former railroad bed, so the rolling hills northwest of Rochester are reduced to barely noticeable grades.
It stretches 15 miles, from the Cascade Creek trail all the way to nearby Pine Island. Every August, the Rochester Track Club hosts its annual Douglas Trail 11-Mile Race along the northern portion of the trail. It’s a low-key, inexpensive race, but it’s full of camaraderie from the area’s tight-knit running community.
Douglas Trail: Parking lots on Valley high Drive just east of West Circle Drive, on 75th Street in the village of Douglass, and in Pine Island near Center St and Main St.
2. Cascade Creek
Pick up the trail just west of Silver Lake, or at the termination of the Douglas Trail. The trail bisects the quiet Kutzky Park neighborhood, and its one of the few trails not in downtown that the city plows in the winter.
Staying at a hotel near the Mayo Clinic St. Marys campus? Head north and you’ll hit the trail at roughly its midway point.
Cascade Creek Trail: Ample parking at Kutzky Park, 213 13th Ave NW, Rochester.
3. Quarry Hill Park
There’s a little bit of everything here: steep single track, wide wood-chip trails, and paved bike paths. There’s a lot of history here too, including remnants from the old county hospital and the quarry pits.
For a longer run, start at Silver Lake and run two miles east to the park.
Quarry Hill: Large parking lot near the nature center. 701 Silver Creek Rd NE, Rochester
4. South Zumbro/Mayowood
Take the South Zumbro Trail from downtown to this secluded section of paved trail. Wrap around Mayo Lake (another manmade lake), then turn off the bike path and continue on Mayowood Road past the Mayo brothers’ historic estate.
Mayowood/South Zumbro: There really are no addresses down here; it’s the middle of nowhere beside the mayo estate. Try the small gravel parking lot off of Mayowood Rd SW just south of Salem Rd. or park by Mayowood Mansion: 3720 Mayowood Road Southwest, Rochester
5. Silver Lake
Believe it or not, Olmsted County is one of four Minnesota counties without a natural lake. Silver Lake is actually a dammed portion of the Zumbro River, and while it’s not swimmable, you’ll often spot kayakers and swimmers during the summer months. Plus, running to and circling the lake makes a great 4-mile route from many of the downtown hotels.
Silver Lake: Multiple parking lots and pavilions around the lake. 705 East Silver Lake Drive NE, Rochester
Rochester has some great off-road running within city limits, but my favorite destination for a quick trail run is nearby Oxbow Park, 13 miles west of downtown. Run the steep ridge flanking the middle fork of the Zumbro River (a different portion of the river than runs through Rochester) or stick to the flat, grassy meadows near the front of the park. For some post-run entertainment, bring the kids and explore the zoo contained within the park.
Oxbow Park: 5731 County Rd 105 NW, Byron.
Your Favorite Places to Run in Rochester
Do you have another place you like to run in Rochester? Share it in the comments below.