Mississippi River Regional Trail Construction

One of my favorite summer activities is watching all the new bike infrastructure projects as they progress through various stages of construction. There’s a lot happening in 2016, but one of the projects I’m most excited about is the Mississippi River Regional Trail-Spring Lake Park Reserve Segment in Nininger (which I had never heard of before writing this post).

Mississippi River Regional Trail

The Mississippi River Regional Trail is a planned 27-mile trail connecting South Saint Paul to Hastings, much of which is already in place, and the Spring Lake Park segment is under construction this summer. The prospect of being able to ride all the way from South Saint Paul to Hastings completely on trails is exciting.

If you’ve never experienced the portions of the MRRT that have already been built, you’re missing out. The regional trail starts at Kaposia Landing in South Saint Paul, where there is a pleasant enough trailhead. The trail follows the Mississippi River to the south, and for much of the way the trail is sandwiched between a freight railroad and the river, which results in a pretty unique experience. And not just because you can smell the regional wastewater treatment plant across the river in Newport.

Mississippi River Regional Trail - near Kaposia Landing

Mississippi River Regional Trail – near Kaposia Landing

There’s a segment between about S 65th Street and Cahill Avenue where the trail is adjacent to Concord Ave that offers a pretty bland experience – at least compared to the rest of the trail. But the fact that there is a continuous trail throughout is still pretty impressive. Dakota County constructed the Pine Bend Bluffs segment in 2012–2013, and it’s definitely an interesting ride worth checking out.

Spring Lake Park Segment

Now in 2016, Dakota County is mid construction on the Spring Lake Park Reserve segment. The Spring Lake Park segment of this trail is especially noteworthy from an engineering standpoint. The segment includes two substantial bridges over ravines, it carves a notable bench into a limestone rock face, and it required a phenomenal amount of earthwork to weave a trail through the rough terrain.

Mississippi River Regional Trail under construction in Spring Lake Park Reserve.

Mississippi River Regional Trail under construction in Spring Lake Park Reserve.

Mississippi River Regional Trail required some pretty substiantial earthwork.

Mississippi River Regional Trail required some pretty substantial earthwork.

Mississippi River Regional Trail bridge and limestone bluff in background.

Mississippi River Regional Trail bridge and limestone bluff in background.

MRRT benched into limestone rock face.

MRRT benched into limestone rock face.

MRRT - pavement in place in some places.

MRRT – pavement in place in some places.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this project as it moves forward. According to the website, construction is supposed to be complete by the end of 2016.

As a final note, the City of Saint Paul and Dakota County are collaborating on a project to extend the regional trail system north from Kaposia Landing through Saint Paul to Harriet Island. The trail was formerly known as the mouthful “Harriet Island to South Saint Paul Regional Trail”, but has recently been renamed (along with Lilydale) the “Robert Piram Regional Trail”, which is vastly less helpful geographically but is at least shorter than the previous name. According to the project website, construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.


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9 Responses to Mississippi River Regional Trail Construction

  1. Dorian Grilley May 6, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Wow, thanks for the update Reuben. This will be a spectacular segment of trail, a gem along the MRT. What vistas. It looks rough now but it will look great in a couple years.

  2. Tim May 6, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    Honestly, from the perspective of a hiker who spent a lof of time in this park over the years, I’m not a fan of the execution due to the impact it has had on the environment. They had to cut down a lot of trees and move a lot of earth to make this trail. I know it looks rougher now than it will several years in the future, and I don’t object there being a paved trail near or even in the park, but I wish this could have been done in a less destructive way.

    • Adam Froehlig
      Adam Froehlig May 8, 2016 at 5:48 am #

      What would you have suggested, then?

      • Tim May 9, 2016 at 8:39 am #

        Not routing it through an area that required them to do all that, or at least less of it. Perhaps closer to the south side of the park, farther from the the river. Yeah, it wouldn’t have been as picturesque, but it would have preserved more of the natural environment.

  3. Monte Castleman
    Monte Castleman May 6, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    One need I see is a stretch to connect Hastings to Red Wing. If all the plans for trails come to pass you’d be able to ride from the Stone Arch Bridge to the Chicago Bean on almost protected off-road trails.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman May 6, 2016 at 10:10 am #

      almost all protected off-road trails. Some minor country roads in Illinois are the only place you’d be forced to share the same pavement with cars.

  4. hokan May 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    I love going to Spring Lake Park so riding on this new trail will be great!

    • Johnny D May 6, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

      Spring Lake Park is 35 miles from this.

  5. Janelle Nivens
    Janelle Nivens May 6, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    I love walking along the Mississippi River for long stretches and exploring a part of Minnesota I’ve never been is exciting even if the views are bland and the aroma is of wastewater. I’ll have to remember to wear a big hat even when they have leaves, it looks like the remaining trees will not offer shade.