Exploring the Minnesota Valley NWR

4.0
3.5 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Joe Whitson

Just minutes away from downtown Minneapolis, easy to get to and always crowd free, with a unique floodplain ecosystem and a nationally recognized bird watching zone. There is abundant wildlife including deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, beavers, and even an occasional cougar, with the best off-road biking in the Twin Cities.

It is 3.5 miles long one-way from the visitors center (3815 American Blvd. East 55425) to Cedar Ave. Bridge. Whether because of the foreword thinking early Minnesota legislators or simply because of the inhospitality of nature, most of the riverfront on both the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers throughout the Twin Cities is undeveloped, protected for the survival and enjoyment of people and animals alike. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge covers 14,000 acres along 70 miles of the Minnesota River from Bloomington to Henderson.

Largely inaccessible in the spring due to annual flooding, the refuge is a great escape the rest of the year. The trailhead and visitor center is across the street from Mall of America (as shown on the map), but the trails can be accessed at several points throughout Bloomington including the ends of Old Cedar Rd, Lyndale Ave., Penn Ave., Auto Club Rd, as well as Nine Mile Creek Trail.

Hiking/Snowshoeing/Running: The easiest way to explore the refuge is on foot. Just have an hour or two to kill? Head down for a quick walk by the visitor's center. This is a favorite locale for trail runners. If you have more time, explore the various entrances or drive down Hwy 169 and check out sections further from the city.

Mountain Biking: If you like off-road biking, but aren't up for a huge trip, this is the spot for you. Minneapolis bikers are passionate about keeping up this trail, regularly clearly obstructions (or building jumps off them), and maintaining rafts and bridges across the numerous creeks and tributaries. Don't let the winter scare you away either - put on your studded or fat tires and brave the elements.

Hunting: The wildlife refuge is one of the only places in the Twin Cities metro area that allows bow hunting (no guns). It's open for both deer and turkey season.

Read More
Fitness
Hunting
Chillin
Photography
Mountain Biking
Running
Snowshoeing
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Go Pro.

We're committed to building a better, more inclusive home for the modern outdoors. Go PRO to support our mission and get benefits like gear deals, no ads, and more!

Learn More

Reviews

Rate this Adventure

🥉Contributor

over 3 years ago

Peaceful Walk

I didn't even know this trail existed but gave it a try since we had done others by our house so many times. We seen a ton of birds including a very curious turkey who I think was flirting. The trail was well maintained and a joy for my family even after a week of rain.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Trade River Retreat Center

From $140/night

Jordan, Minnesota

Minneapolis Southwest Koa

Maple Grove, Minnesota

Minneapolis Northwest Koa

Somerset, Wisconsin

Camp Coulee

From $300/night

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Pike Island Loop

4.2
4.4 mi / 151 ft gain

Explore Minnehaha Falls

4.1

Explore Frozen Minnehaha Falls

3.8

Hike the Winchell Trail

3.6
5 mi
More Nearby Adventures