The West River Parkway

Minnesota, Minneapolis, the West River Parkway

The West River Parkway, also known as the Mississippi River Gorge Regional Trail, line the edges of the Mississippi River and stretch from the Minnehaha Creek, past the University of Minnesota campus, and all the way through downtown Minneapolis for a total of 8.9 miles.

The West River Parkway Trail mixes urban amenities with natural areas and is well used for recreation and commuting.

Access

There is numerous parking available along the trail and most of them are free. Parking is also available on many side streets connecting to the trail. If you plan to start your ride from downtown, metered parking can be found near Gold Medal Park and the Stone Arch Bridge.

You can reach the northern trailhead from I-94 East. There are several parking lots along W. River Parkway.

Otherwise, you may reach the southern trailhead from I-94 just north of downtown Minneapolis, take Exit 237. Head south on Cretin Avenue North, and go 2.6 miles. Turn right onto Ford Parkway, and in 0.8 mile turn left onto 46th Ave. S. Immediately turn left onto Godfrey Parkway, parking will be on the right.

Food and Drink

There are several parks along the route, the James I. Rice Park at Plymouth Avenue is the first of those. Most of them have portable toilets, water, and picnic areas, all in settings that offer views of the Mississippi River.

Moreover, water fountains can be found along the West River Parkway trail, but pay attention since they are usually shut off in the winter months. There are also some water stops as you wind through Downtown en route to the Stone Arch Bridge.

More details

This trail is widely used by runners, cyclists, walkers, and even the occasional roller skier.

The trail follows the Mississippi River south (downstream) from north of Plymouth Avenue to Minnehaha Falls, offering spectacular views of the river as well as access to downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota campus, and several trailheads to other urban trails.

The trail runs amid a tree-lined boulevard all along the southern portion of the parkway and offers occasional glimpses of the river far below.

The West River Parkway trail is said to be beautiful. In spring and summer, green bushy trees line every inch of the trail. In fall season, romantically, the leaves of the trees light on fire in brilliant red and orange hues. When winter hits, the trail brings on a snowy, quiet solace from the rest of the world. The parkway is always attractive, regardless season. An example of an oak savanna community of plants is being restored along the route at East 36th Street. The 5-mile round-trip Winchell Trail winds along the slopes below the parkway between Franklin Avenue and 44th Street.

The West River Parkway Trail is part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile loop tour of the region that can be walked, biked, or driven and which features cultural and natural sites. The West River Parkway links up to the Godfrey Parkway, connecting it to Minnehaha Falls and several trails heading farther south.

Trail map

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11.721 km / 7.283 mi

Total Distance

146 m / 479 ft

Total Ascent

148 m / 484 ft

Total Descent

263 m / 863 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Sightseeing
Mountain biking
Road riding
Commuter
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Gravel
Various
Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
Ride Duration: <1 hr
Fitness Level: Low
Terrain:
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
On-Road
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Trail Signage: Good
Mobile Coverage: Limited
Estimated Distance: 9.0
Services:
Water
Food
First Aid
Toilets
Bike hire
Carparking
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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