Running Route Spotlight: Lake Nokomis
I have a confession to make: 10 months ago I moved from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon. What you’ve heard is true, Portland is an amazing place to live and an even better place to run, but if I’m being really, really honest, I miss the miles of paved trails in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis is where my running life took off, where I trained for my first marathon, and where I gained thousands of badass points for running year-round. I spent hours, and hours, and hours running along West River Pkwy, Summit Avenue, and of course, the Chain of Lakes, but one of my most cherished routes was around Lake Nokomis.
Often overlooked for Lake Calhoun or Lake Harriet, Lake Nokomis is the sweetest little neighborhood sailing lake with a ~2.5 mile paved trail. Here’s why you should consider skipping the larger lakes and head over to South Minneapolis for your next run:
Endless Paved Trail
Like all of the major lakes in Minneapolis, Lake Nokomis boasts a mostly flat ~2.5 mile loop around it’s blue waters. If you’re planning to run longer, the trail also connects to both the Chain of Lakes trail and the Minnehaha Creek Pkwy trail. My favorite route included a loop or two around the lake, and a beautiful out-and-back to Minnehaha Falls.
Sure, you can park around the lake in the 2 hour parking zones or in the big paid lot, but the best spot to ditch your car is in a somewhat secret lot off of Minnehaha Pkwy and Longfellow Ave. The lot is FREE and shares space with a Nice Ride hub, if you’re into that kind of thing. On hot and sticky summer days, I would park in the lot and run loops around the lake, stopping back for cold water bottles filled with Nuun.
Water Fountains & Bathrooms
One of the best things about Lake Nokomis are its two water fountains located on the Northwest side (at the Main Beach) and Southeast side of the lake. Perfect for sweaty long runs! And when nature calls, there are bathrooms located on the Northwest side (again at the Main Beach) and the Northeast side (permanent Port-o-Potty near the small beach).
Aside from the gathering of people at the Main Beach (and sometimes the small beach), the rest of Lake Nokomis is often quiet and somewhat secluded. It’s a nice departure from the busy-ness of the larger lakes, and provides a more peaceful running experience.
Food at the Finish
One of my very favorite parts about Lake Nokomis is the Sandcastle food stand located at the Main Beach. For years, the food stand was left vacant and sad, but in the last couple of years it has been revitalized by husband and wife team, Doug Flicker (of Piccolo fame), and Amy Greeley. Sandcastle serves delicious beachside treats including beer, hot dogs, and ice cream. The best way to end your sweaty, summer long run is with a dip in the lake and an ice cold beverage (trust me on this!).
I deeply miss running at Lake Nokomis, and even writing this now makes me ache for weekend long runs capped off with an ice cream cone. In my opinion, Lake Nokomis is some of the best running in Minneapolis; the secret’s out, get over there quick!
What are your favorite running routes in Minneapolis?
If you were to leave the Twin Cities, which routes would you miss the most and why?