Hike the Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area Loop

Grey Cloud Dunes South Parking Area

Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area is the largest intact prairie system located within the Twin Cities metro, with wind-sculpted dunes that rise high above the bordering Mississippi River. The area is home to a number of unique plants and animals including the rare sea-beach needlegrass and the North American blue racer – a snake not commonly found in Minnesota.

Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area, the largest intact prairie system located within the Twin Cities, is home to a number of rare plants and animals. The SNA has no marked or maintained trails, but there are a few well-worn footpaths that create an easy-to-follow three mile loop through the area's most interesting features.

Begin in the south parking lot located at the top of the bluff. You'll see a set of railroad tracks to the west. Hike down the dune through waist-deep grass toward the tracks. In a half mile, you'll enter a tall oak grove occupying the southwest corner. Follow the trail north for one mile. You'll pass through a tunnel running under the railroad tracks. Here the trail turns east and heads back up the dunes. The rise is gentle, climbing 110 feet over a half mile. Follow the utility road running south along the top of the bluff for one mile to get back to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Walking shoes
  • Long pants
  • Bug spray
  • Sun protection
  • Water
  • Camera
Show More
RT Distance 3 Miles
Elevation Gain 110 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Scenic Views

Visited here in the early Fall for some scenic photography. Great lighting at golden hour. Good beginner trail in a quiet neighborhood.

!!

Beautiful place it's a favorite of mine, many ticks in the summer

Beautiful for sunset

I visited this summer and spent a lovely hour walking on the narrow trail through the prairie. It was relaxing and very good spot to watch the sunset as you can see for quite a distance from the top of the dune. Overall, very pleasant area.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Walk to Vermillion Falls

420 Saves

Hike the Afton State Park Trail

335 Saves

Hike the Pike Island Loop

239 Saves