Hike the Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area Loop

Grey Cloud Dunes South Parking Area, Cottage Grove, Minnesota, United States

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    110 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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
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Reviews

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

5 months ago
5 months ago

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

8 months ago
8 months ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This was a nice little prairie with a short trail. Worth a days visit :)

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Robin Pfeifer

An endlessly curious travel writer who simply cannot sit still.

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