Minnesota River Bottoms West Trail Review
The Minnesota River Bottoms West is a flat section of trails that run right alongside the banks of the Minnesota River. Expect to encounter wildlife and an interesting raft system to help you cross a stream that runs into the river. The most significant elevation change on this stretch of trail is only about 9 feet, making it a great route for speed work or just an easy, scenic trail run along the river.
Trails along the Minnesota River between 35w and 169. Directions to Lyndale Trailhead.
12.5 miles (out-and-back)
About 100 feet of total elevation gain
Single-track trails that are not very technical. In the summertime the trails are mostly well packed and smooth, minus a few small sections of sand.
In the wintertime the trail tends to stay pretty well packed from other runners, fat tire bikers and snow-shoers. You’ll probably still encounter a few rough spots, but nothing out of the ordinary for winter trail running. The packed portion of the trail tends to be narrow from the fat tire bikes.
Most of the trail runs right along the river, offering great views and a remote setting. You will also cross several smaller streams (i.e. runoffs entering the river) via small bridges and one crossing can be done on a raft! Wildlife sightings are common and include everything from deer to eagles.
The Lyndale trailhead right off of 35w (directions) offers convenient parking with plenty of spots available. Once you park you will want to head towards the river until you see an unpaved service road running parallel with the river. Follow the service road until you run into the trail (almost 1 mile). You can’t miss it. From here on out it’s all single-track.
Follow the trail West along the river (river will be on your left). At about mile 2 you will encounter your first water crossing, but don’t worry, you don’t have to get your feet wet. In the winter it should be safe to cross on the ice. When it’s not frozen you have the option of crossing on a raft system that someone created with ropes to pull yourself across, or by balancing across a fallen tree.
Besides the occasional meadow and water crossing, the terrain remains relatively unchanged making it easy to find a rhythm and lose yourself in your run.
After about 6.5 miles you will encounter another trailhead and a pedestrian bridge crossing the river. This is where I turned around, but there are some more trails to explore if you feel inclined!
Combine this trail with Minnesota River Bottoms East trails for about 22 miles of river bottoms trail running.
This section of trail tends to get a lot of bikers. Make sure you’re courteous to them and aren’t ruining the trails for their use.
What’s your experience with this trail, or others in the area? Leave a comment below.