Oakdale trailhead - From St. Paul or Minneapolis, take Highway 36 east through North St. Paul to the Hadley Avenue intersection. Turn right (south) on Hadley, then take the first left. The parking lot is about half a mile down on the right side. From other suburbs, take Highway 694 to Highway 36, then exit west on 36 and go about half a mile west to Hadley, then continue as above.
Length: The western section of the trail is about 8 miles long. The eastern section is just over 10 miles from the Hadley Avenue parking lot to Pine Point Park.
Difficulty: The eastern section is easy -- flat, smooth, and mostly straight. There are a few road crossings which can be busy. The crossing at Highway 96 has been replaced with a bridge as of 2004. The western section is a little more difficult because of the road crossings (many with wooden bridges), but not too difficult.
Popularity/number of other users: Fairly popular with bikers and inline skaters, with some hikers here and there. It's not terribly crowded, though.
Surface conditions: Good to fair. There are a few rough patches, cracks, and dips in the trail. It's been a while since it was repaved.
Scenery: The eastern section is a lot better if you like the scenery, especially with farmlands and the occasional wetland. The western section isn't all that bad, especially since there's a giant snowman in North St. Paul.
Nearby restaurants: None right next to the trailheads. However, there are some restaurants in North St. Paul and Maplewood, just west on Highway 36. There's also Champps at 35E and Larpenteur if you're in the mood for a loud sports bar.
Water: Water is available at the eastern trailhead in Pine Point Park, but not at the Oakdale trailhead or the Maryland Avenue trailhead. There are a couple convenience stores and a Dairy Queen in North St. Paul, though.
Other nearby trails: The western part of the trail connects to the Phalen and Keller Lake trails. There is also an intersection in Maplewood with another trail (the Phalen Creek Trail?) that follows the old Burlington Northern right of way north and south.
Comments: This is a nice, long trail for a good workout. It's uncrowded and scenic.
Links: Minnesota DNR page about the Gateway State Trail
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