Our Favorite Spring Running Routes
As spring comes to a close and the hot and humid summer Minnesota weather commences, I think fondly of my favorite spring running routes. Sure, sometimes the water fountains are still shut off for the winter season and yes, occasionally the blooming flowers can really wreck my sinuses, but the magic of springtime running remains. I love witnessing the changes in seasons, the blissfully snow-free paths, and the feeling of fresh, new beginnings.
Some running routes are made for winter with heavily walked (and thus clear) sidewalks or indoor loops to avoid the weather. Some running routes are made for summer with plentiful water stops, open and available port-o-johns, or access to a lake for that cold, refreshing post-run dip. And then there are the routes that are made for spring. They feature tree blossoms and daylight hours and a return to those paths that were abandoned once the snow fell.
Spring Running Routes
To celebrate spring and to bid the season adieu, I gathered a few of our authors’ favorite running routes to inspire your next run.
Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis
I am crazy about the Minnehaha Parkway trail in Minneapolis. The paved 4.1-mile trail (from Lake Harriet to Lake Nokomis) is fantastic year-round, but it’s my favorite in the springtime. Bushy green trees and fragrant blossoms crowd the sides of this trail and offer beautiful creek and lake views (I’ve even seen my fair share of wildlife!) I love how you can connect to many of the other popular Minneapolis trails such as West River Parkway and the Chain of Lakes, plus it offers a more scenic and intimate experience as it winds through neighborhoods and away from the crowded river and lake trails. – Krysta Gunvalson
Gateway State Trail, St. Paul
I love the St. Paul to Pine Point Park route along the Gateway State Trail. Starting in St. Paul, this paved path passes through many parks, lakes, and fields. It’s about 18 miles in length but I like to hop on near Lake Phalen (and get a run around the lake as well!!) There is also a second unpaved path that runs adjacent to the trail for about ten miles where you’ll often see people horseback riding. It’s a nice option if you feel like getting off of the pavement for a while. The variety of landscape keeps things interesting and there are access points to many local and regional trails. Nothing like having a lot of options! – Jessie Fiene
Rice Creek Trail, Arden Hills
For five years, I lived and worked at Bethel University in Arden Hills. I was living here when training for my first marathon and found the Rice Creek Trail to be the absolute best spot for going long. I would run to Long Lake Park and hop on the trail there, usually doing an out and back.
This trail is amazing for a few reasons. There is A LOT of shade, which is nice on those hot days. (There are also plenty of spots where there is no shade, but those are few and far between.) There are a few strategically placed bathrooms and water fountains.
The trail is mostly secluded but has enough “civilization” so you don’t feel totally alone. Plus, the variety of terrain (flat, hills, gradual, steep) keeps things fun and interesting! – Nathan Freeburg
Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove
I love the Elm Creek Park Reserve trails because of the variety and proximity to my home, as well as the absolutely awesome scenery, wildlife, and peacefulness. You can easily choose your distance – there is the “Mud Lake Loop” that is around 4 miles, or you can add the Eastman Nature loop to that for another 2.5ish miles. You can then add the Champlin loop and, just like that, you are in Saturday Long Run territory. There are moderate hills throughout the trail, and there are many off-road road trails you can run as well.
I live a mile away right off a connector trail (Rush Creek – which leads to the Coon Rapids Dam and is pretty great in its own right), so I love that I can take off from my front step. For those further away, the trailhead has ample parking and a bathroom that is open during park hours 7 days a week (5am-10pm or sundown). The trail also connects to Medicine Lake Trail, and there are discussions about connecting it to Crow-Hassan Park Reserve to the west. – Seth Rima
Your Favorite Spring Running Routes
There are dozens of great running routes in the Twin Cities, what are your favorites and why? Share in the comments below!