Trail: Sunrise Prairie Trail
Description: The Sunrise Prairie Trail runs north and south along the abandoned Burlington Northern Railway bed between I-35 and Highway 61. The trail starts in Hugo as the Hardwood Creek Trail and becomes the Sunrise Prairie Trail at the Chisago County line in Forest Lake. It ends at Highway 95 in North Branch.
Getting there: There is parking along the trail in Hugo, Wyoming, Stacy, and North Branch. A big oversight in the Forest Lake planning is the lack of trail head parking.
To Hugo from the metro area, take I-35E north to the Hugo exit (#123). Go east 1.8 miles to Highway 61. The trail head is at the northwest corner of this intersection. Turn left onto Highway 61 and take the first left into the entrance of the Hugo Feed Mill & Hardware store. Take an immediate left into the gravel parking lot.
To Forest Lake, Wyoming, Stacy, and North Branch from the metro area, take I-35 north to the respective city exit. THEN:
At the Forest Lake exit (#131), go east .8 miles to the trail. Highway 61 is one-half block ahead of you. A municipal parking lot is straight across Highway 61. If you park there, you will have to cross busy Highway 61 on your skates. I look for a spot on the side streets or an underused business parking lot.
At the Wyoming exit (#135), go east .2 miles to Highway 61/County Road 30. Turn left onto CR-30 and take the second left into the entrance of the trail parking lot. The first left is the trail parking lot exit only.
At the Stacy exit (#139), go east .3 miles and turn right (before the trail crossing) into the entrance of the trail parking lot. There is a city park there also.
At the North Branch exit (#147), go east .5 miles to County Road 30 (formerly known as Highway 61). Turn right onto CR-30 and take the second right into the entrance of the trail parking lot.
Length: Total length is 23 miles. Hugo to Forest Lake is 7 miles, Forest Lake to Wyoming is 4 miles, Wyoming to Stacy is 4 miles, Stacy to North Branch is 8 miles.
Difficulty: Easy. The section from Hugo to Forest Lake is slightly uphill and the rest of the trail is virtually flat.
Popularity/number of other users: All users share the same trail surface but the trail is not crowded.
Surface conditions: Very good. The trail was built in 1998 and 1999. Unfortunately, there is already some snowmobile stud damage despite the numerous signs posted. The trail is bi-directional and does not have a middle dividing line. It is paved over a few gravel roads so there may be some gravel on the trail at those points.
Scenery: There is a lot of plant life and the ponds along the way attract some waterfowl. Given the trail is nestled between two roadways, don't expect to see a great deal.
Nearby restaurants: There are many cafes, fast food places and convenience stores in each city along the trail or not far from it.
Water: None available on the trail. Bring your own and replenish it at the local establishments.
Comments: This trail is great for a long distance workout. The major road crossings are few and you won't encounter a lot of people. There are benches along the trail between Wyoming and North Branch.
Hardwood Creek Regional Trail (Washington County)
Sunrise Prairie Trail (Chisago County)
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