My Saint Paul Greenway is the Bruce Vento Trail


Bruce Vento Regional Trail

It is wonderful to live next to a safe off-street bike path. I wish all of you could, too.

The Bruce Vento Regional Trail currently runs from Vadnais Heights down to Lowertown. A spur continues west along Phalen Boulevard and should one day extend west on Pennsylvania Avenue to Como. Currently a northern extension is being planned to go into White Bear Lake along highway 61. The trail winds through the lovely Swede Hollow Park and leads one directly to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary next to Lowertown.




Historic 7th Street Improvement Arches of Swede Hollow Park



Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary

Like the Midtown Greenway it has been constructed along an old railroad right of way. Also, it is likewise the possible location of a co-located transit line.

My family and I use this trail on a daily basis for a variety of reasons:

1. It was a vital part of my old commute from Payne-Phalen to the North End, and this year it is even more important as I go through downtown to the West Side.

2. This past week when our car needed a repair, I used the trail for dropping off and picking up the car at a shop on inhospitable White Bear Ave near HWY 36 in Maplewood.

3. When my wife and I took a long ride over to the Battle Creek Trail, we started on the Bruce Vento, and when we came home from dinner at Dark Horse we exited downtown at 9th and made our way back to Phalen Boulevard and our trusty trail.

  1. My 61 year old father rode with me and my 7 year old son to a St. Paul Saints game on July 4th – entirely on the trail.

5. My son and I rode the trail to get to the Dragon Fest at Lake Phalen (trying to forget that we had to bus home because I forgot keys to the bike lock…). This was the day after our whole family biked there to swim at the beach.

6. Weekly when my son has baseball or soccer practice, the Duluth Case Recreation Center and fields are located right off the trail.

7. When my 4 year old daughter learned to ride a bike by herself, two days later she was taking the Bruce Vento 1.3 miles to get to church (at Forest & Case) and then back again.


8. The church also uses the Bruce Vento Trail (along with the Gateway) for our annual parish picnic and bike ride to Keller Regional Park.

No, the Bruce Vento Trail is not the Midtown Greenway in many ways. However, I am so thankful when I begin to count the ways that this trail makes it easier for my family to get around without our car.

If only more people in St. Paul had access to low-stress bikeways like this! We are on the verge of having one on Jackson Street through downtown. Why not go ahead and finish a temporary loop downtown with inexpensive bollards? Pennsylvania Avenue is supposed to become a bikeway when it is rebuilt several decades from now. Why not convert car lanes to protected bike lanes now? Others have suggested numerous improvements that could make my family’s joy a reality for others and create a larger, more functional network.

Eric Saathoff

About Eric Saathoff

Eric Saathoff is a public school teacher living in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul. He is a regular walker, cyclist, transit user, and driver with his wife and three young children. Eric serves on the Payne-Phalen Community Council and the St Paul Transportation Committee.

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16 thoughts on “My Saint Paul Greenway is the Bruce Vento Trail

  1. Tom Quinn

    The newly constructed 35E eliminated the bike tunnel crossing used to access the Gateway from the west. How do people get over there now?

      1. Eric SaathoffEric Saathoff

        There was a ped/bike tunnel removed, unfortunately. But there is still a way to go under 35E. Now it’s at Cayuga – you can see that here.

    1. Tom Quinn

      I drove through the Cayuga underpass to Phalen yesterday and didn’t see much of a trail. It’s a busy road with no shoulders. I avoid streets like this.

      Before the 35E construction there was a real bicycle trail running under the highway that connected to Gateway. Perhaps it was part of the Gateway. I see no safe way to cross 35E now.

      1. Eric SaathoffEric Saathoff

        The trail is on the south side of Cayuga at sidewalk level. It’s not perfect, but it’s about 12 feet wide. There are several annoying/dangerous curb cuts. by the Health Partner’s parking lot. It will be a decent connection between the Bruce Vento and the Gateway Trails.
        If you continue to travel west on Cayuga past the Gateway Trail you’ll have to cross to the north side of Cayuga where a climbing bike lane will bring you up to the Jackson Street bike lanes. I’m not sure when that Cayuga bike lane (singular) is supposed to be painted.

        Honestly I wish the the Cayuga bike trail was on the north side of Cayuga to make an easier connection with the new 35E trail in that area, except that it would then be crossing both Arkwright and Westminster streets in the process.

  2. David Marquette

    with the 35E N reconstruction, the connection across 35E was torn away. yes, the link above MnDOT shows when done sometime, not sure when.

  3. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    So true! We’re on a MUP in Shoreview that allows us to ride to numerous places for meals and shopping without having to ride on any roads. It’s not Europe but it’s the next best thing and allows my wife and I (and friends) to ride together for many trips that would otherwise be by car.

    Prior to 35E construction I’d often ride on the Gateway trail in to downtown St Paul. I’ll still do it occasionally during construction but it’s not nearly as comfortable or enjoyable. The new layout has some benefits and drawbacks. We’ll see how it is when complete.

  4. David Marquette

    Walker, if you miss the Gateway trail ride into downtown, consider from Gateway then going south on Bruce Vento. Yes you have to cross a stoplit intersection east of Lake Phalen, but you end up downtown behind the Saints stadium. 4th Street westbound along the Green line is my preferred ride toward Rice Park. Too, looks like the Jaskson rebuild will be done i’ll guess 6 weeks, which has a great seperated double width bike lane on it.

  5. Scott

    I love the Vento. However, I am concerned for it’s future. Some of the light rail alignments that are being proposed would decimate much of the trail. I would MUCH prefer a rail alignment that puts the train on Arcade/61 or White Bear AVE.

    1. Eric SaathoffEric Saathoff

      I guess it depends on what “decimates” means. The Rush Line planners have insisted every time I’ve asked that the trail would be preserved. They will either co-locate or relocate the trail. Now, what that means we don’t know.

      Most people on the forum think there won’t be enough ridership for LRT. I’d like to see it on White Bear Ave and Phalen Boulevard, but there are some points along Phalen Blvd where I don’t see enough room for colocation, such as under the Edgerton Bridge or over the bridge between Cayuga and Olive.

      The Swede Hollow portion is no longer under consideration by the planners.

      1. Scott

        I was referring to the relative quietness, solitude and natural beauty that the trail has to offer. The Vento has always felt like an escape from the city to me. I am specifically referring to the Swede Hollow section and the section north of Maryland. I did not know that running the train through Swede Hollow has been removed from consideration and I am very glad to hear this. I would be fine with co-location along Phalen BLVD since that area has little to offer as far as natural beauty goes and I don’t think anything would be lost by co-location in this section. I would like to see the trail preserved as-is north of Maryland.

        Do you have any idea when the section between Burkle Rd. and downtown White Bear is going to be paved? It seems like they have been talking about paving this section for years.

  6. Eric SaathoffEric Saathoff

    I also left out of this post the plan for an extension south to the Mississippi River with a bridge over Warner Road. This would be the only direct connection for a lot of East Siders to the river and a huge improvement for the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

    Lots of detail about that bridge available here.

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