Trail: West River Parkway

Description: This trail begins at Boom Island and follows the Mississippi River to Minnehaha Falls. It gives you a spectacular view of the Mississippi as well as a tour through downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota campus.

Getting there: From I-94 just north of downtown, exit at Broadway and turn east. Turn right on West River Road and go about ½ mile. There are several parking lots along the parkway south of Plymouth Avenue. An alternative is to park just west of the parkway in one of the newly built residential neighborhoods.

Length: About 8.9 miles one way from Boom Island to Minnehaha Falls.

Difficulty: Intermediate. The difficult part of the trail starts at Stone Arch Bridge to the Franklin Avenue Bridge, and is fairly hilly and challenging.  After the Franklin Avenue Bridge it is fairly flat. Note that the deteriorating pavement south of the U of M makes this trail a rather dicey skate.

Popularity/number of other users: This trail is a very popular two way path used by both inline skaters and bikers.

Surface conditions: The section between Plymouth Avenue and the river flats (south of the old Northern Pacific Railway bridge) is relatively new and in good condition. Beyond that, the trail is older and more variable. There is one section between 94 and Franklin Avenue that is badly eroded and very bumpy, and not suitable for beginners. South of that, the trail is more skateable, but there are occasional cracks, and the surface is weathered.

Scenery: This trail gives you a panoramic view of downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota -- not to mention a very scenic wooded view of the Mississippi River.

Nearby restaurants: After a vigorous skate to Minnehaha Falls there is a Dairy Queen across the street for a quick pick-me-up before you head back to Boom Island or visit the concession stand at Minnehaha Falls.

Water: There is water available both at the beginning of the trail at Boom Island and at the end of the trail at Minnehaha Falls. There are also picnic tables at both sites.

Other nearby trails: This trail connects in Minnehaha Park to the Minnehaha Falls trail, rebuilt as of 2002. Eventually, on the north end it will connect to the extension of the Cedar Lake Trail, but that connection is still being debated.

Comments: I like the challenge of the hills at the beginning of the trail and then the view of the Mississippi is always inspiring.  


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