Trail: Samuel Morgan Regional Trail

Description: The Samuel Morgan Regional Trail follows the Mississippi River waterfront in downtown St. Paul.  It shows just how much redevelopment St. Paul has done with their riverfront area.

Getting there: There are two parking lots.  The larger lot is located on Warner Road just east of Sibley St., just east of downtown and the Lowertown area.  To get there, take Shepard Road east through downtown.  After you go underneath the railroad bridge and the Robert Street Bridge, the parking lot will be on your right.

A second, smaller lot has been built near the Xcel Energy High Bridge power plant.  To get there, take Shepard Road to Randolph Street, then turn south (toward the river).  Follow the road all the way to its dead end.  The parking lot is across from the power plant entrance.

Length: The best skateable part of the trail is about 5.5 miles long.  The eastern end of the skateable portion is where the trail crosses Childs Road and where Warner Road crosses the railroad tracks.  (There is a trail connection over the bridge, but it appears steep and narrow.)  The western end of the best skating is around the Highway 35E bridge.  The trails continue for a distance after that, and if you're feeling adventurous you can continue to Highway 5 and cross the Mississippi River.

Difficulty: Intermediate.  The trail itself is mostly smooth and wide, but there are some areas with new housing construction that produce some debris on the trail.  There are also other pockets of debris on the trail, such as sand and small sticks.  Skating around some bridge abutments in downtown can be a bit of work.

Popularity/number of other users: Relatively uncrowded, but I skated this on a weekend.

Surface conditions: Very good, for the most part.  There is some debris, and the western mile or so of the trail (approaching 35E) is a little bit older and in rougher condition.

Scenery: The trail provides an almost constant view of the Mississippi River and its parkland.  You'll also see the downtown St. Paul skyline up close, along with Dayton's Bluff.  On the other hand, there's several railroad tracks and some industrial infrastructure.

Nearby restaurants: There are several restaurants in downtown St. Paul and along West Seventh Street, near the Xcel Energy Center, none of which I visited on this trip.

Water: I didn't see any water fountains at the parking lots.

Nearby trails: The Big Rivers Regional Trail is on the opposite side of the river.  There are also connecting trails that continue across Warner Road to Highway 61 on the east side, and up to Mississippi Boulevard on the west side, but these trails are probably too rough for satisfying skating.  Swede Hollow/Bruce Vento Regional Trail is nearby, but across Highway 94.

Comments: A nice, scenic downtown trail.  It would be better without the debris on the trail.


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