Fort Snelling State Park's River Bottoms Trail

There is an extensive network of mountain bike trails along the Minnesota River Bottoms that extend from Mendota to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge.  I have taken the trails from the Cedar Avenue Bridge to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge before but I hadn't tried the section of trail in Fort Snelling State Park yet.

There is plenty of parking at the Cedar Avenue Bridge entrance to the park, but be advised that you will need a State Parks Permit to park here.  I decided to give it a run and head to the northern end of the trail and see the Sibley House Historic Site in Mendota.  Note:  There is a limited amount of two hour parking at the historic site.

The trail is mostly doubletrack, but there are some narrower areas I would call wide singletrack.  It's relatively a flat, hard-packed fast ride, but there are some soft sand areas that will slow you down a bit.  If your new to mountain biking or would just like to see some nature along the river and get off the paved paths, this is the trail for you.  There are no real technical features along its length, other than the occasional downed tree left behind by the beavers or a trail washout from diverted water near a beaver dam.

This multi-use trail is used by walkers with dogs, hikers and joggers, so be sure to sound an audible signal when passing.

You will pass under the 494 Bridge and the Mendota Bridge along your way giving you a view of some interesting urban artwork in the form of graffiti, but you will soon leave it behind for nature's beauty once again.

Round trip is just under 13 miles and can be done in a short period of time, but take it slow if it is your first time in order to check out all of the great scenery along the way.  There is a lot of beaver activity on sections of the trail, so you will see a fair amount of sign including downed trees, dams and maybe even a beaver.

This is a pretty easy trail for mountain biking, but it's fun, fast and full of great scenery.  Because this trail is close to my job, I will ride it before work sometimes just to get out in the woods for a little while.  If you haven't given it a try yet, head there for your next ride and bring your camera.

For more photos and a map of this trail, click on the links below.


  1. Nice write up. I run this trail pretty often from the Cedar bridge end.

  2. Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your work and this site. I've been following your feed for years. Today researching a family river bottom ride.

    Hope you get a lot of positive feedback. Your karma points excel!


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