Big Rivers Regional Trail: Kickoff Point for Round Trip River Rides

The Big Rivers Regional Trail is a 4.4 mile paved trail with great views of the Mississippi River, Minnesota River, Fort Snelling and Pike Island.  I like to ride this trail frequently for the great views of the river valley and because it is a great starting off point for round trip rides on both sides of the River.

With this trail's many connections, I can ride into Minneapolis, St. Paul or Eagan, making it a different ride every time depending on which route I take.

I like to start at the Lilydale trailhead located near 35E and the Sibley Memorial Highway.  There is a nice sized parking lot at the start of  the trail near the Pool & Yacht Club.  From here you can either head northeast onto the wooded trail that runs through the Lilydale/Harriet Island Regional Park towards the Wabasha Bridge or southwest along the Big Rivers Regional Trail and cross the river using the Mendota Bridge or the 494 Bridge.  There is also parking on the other end of the trail on Sibley Memorial Highway near the Mendota Heights Road.

Lilydale Trailhead Parking

Below are listed some of the many ride possibilities that can be routed using the Big Rivers Regional Trail as your starting point.

If I want to mix paved trail with some off road biking on my mountain bike, I will follow the Big Rivers Regional Trail southwest to the Sibley House Historic Site where I will be able to access the Mendota Trail which is in the borders of the Fort Snelling State Park.  From here I will follow the dirt trail along the Minnesota River all the way down to the Cedar Avenue bridge in Eagan and back.  This ride along the Minnesota River Bottoms provides some great views of the river and a pretty easy flat ride even though it is not paved.  I recently wrote a post on this section of trail called Fort Snelling State Park's River Bottoms Trail if you would like a little more information.  For a photo gallery of this section of trail, click here.  

For routes into St. Paul and Minneapolis, I will cross the Mendota Bridge where I can hook up with trails on either the north or south sides of the Mississippi River heading northwest or the north side heading northeast.

Crossing the Mendota Bridge

There are a lot of scenic river rides you can take by crossing the Hwy. 5 bridge to the north side of the Mississippi River.  This map will point out the number of combinations that can be taken from this crossing.

A view of the trails below the Hwy 5 Bridge

 Just some of the routes I like to take from this point are to follow the Sam Morgan Regional Trail by first going through the Crosby Farm Regional Park and then ending up in downtown St. Paul.  I will cross the Wabasha Bridge and follow the trail through the Lilydale/Harriet Island Regional Park back to the Lilydale trailhead.  Google Maps Biking Directions

Another is to follow the Mississippi River Blvd. and the East River Parkway north along the river to the Washington Avenue Bridge.  Here you can cross to the West Bank and ride south on the West River Parkway to the Hwy. 5 and Mendota Bridge crossings and get back onto the Big Rivers Regional Trail.  Google Maps Biking Directions

View of the Mississippi from the East River Parkway Trail

Throw the 35E Bridge crossing into the mix and you can create a multitude of  different river loop rides using the Big Rivers Regional Trail as your starting point.  Use Biking Directions in Google Maps and plan out your route for a scenic ride along the rivers.

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