Minnesota Valley State Trail
The multi-use Minnesota Valley State Trail is ideal for hiking, biking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. The trail is paved from Shakopee to Chaska and a natural surface trail runs from Chaska to Belle Plaine, paralleling the Minnesota River. The trail travels within the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area in part of the Minnesota River Valley as it converges into the Mississippi River.
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- The gates at Gifford Lake and Trail Site 2 are open - use caution as many areas remain wet and muddy.
- The unpaved portion of the State Trail from Belle Plaine to Chaska is closed to all trail users due to flooding.
- These is no longer bridge access to the state trail from Memorial Park in Shakopee. Please access the trail to the west at Huber Park.
(Updated Nov. 8, 2016)
New trail segment planned
In 2013, the legislature appropriated $2,165,000 to the DNR to develop a trail running from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge to the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge Visitors' Center, as part of the Minnesota Valley State Trail. Learn more.
Plan your next trip with the panoramic or snapshot virtual tour of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. Or, check out what's happening around the whole region including the SRA and beyond, with the regional virtual tour.
The Minnesota River valley is a rich mosaic of plant and animal communities. The valley holds floodplain marshes, wet meadows, fens, and lakes. These wetlands are maintained by the river and by the spring-fed streams draining from the base of the bluffs.
The hillsides and bluffs support oak forest and oak savanna remnants, as well as outstanding scenic overlooks. As the seasons unfold, you will find spring wildflowers, fall colors, abundant wildlife, and the ever-changing river landscape.
You will need a horse pass if you will be horseback riding, and for snowmobiling, a snowmobile must be registered or have a snowmobile state trail sticker. No other fees or passes are required to use the trail.
- Trail uses
- In the area
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle!
Parking is available at the following trail accesses:
- Gifford Lake: Take U.S. Highway 169 to State Highway 41, turn north toward Chaska. Gifford Lake public water access is on the west side of State Highway 41.
- Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Louisville Swamp Unit: Parking and trail access is available at the Louisville Swamp trail head. The wildlife refuge is located about 4.5 miles south of Shakopee. Exit Highway 169 onto 145th Street west. Follow the road past the main entrance to the Renaissance Festival and over the next set of railroad tracks. The Louisville Swamp parking lot is located on the left.
- Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit: Parking is available for the equestrian campground, state trail access, picnic shelter/warming house, Strait House historic site, hiking and cross country ski trails. Take U.S. Highway 169 to Jordan, at the traffic light turn north onto County Road 9, turn left onto Township Road 57.
- Shakopee/Huber Park: The city park is located at First Avenue and Fillmore Street.
- Shakopee/Memorial Park: The city park is located at 1801 East County Road 101.
- Thompson Ferry PWA: Take U.S. Highway 169 to Jordan, turn north onto County Road 9. Thompson Ferry Boat Launch and parking area is on the east side of the road just before the bridge. Parking for horse trailers and other vehicles is on the west side of the road just before the bridge.
- Trail Site 2: Take U.S. Highway 169 to State Highway 41, turn north toward Chaska. The parking lot is on the east side of State Highway 41.
Restroom facilities are provided along the trail at these points:
In the area
Nearby DNR recreational areas include:
State Park and State Recreation Areas
State Water Trails
Public Water Accesses
- Fort Snelling State Park: Public Water Access, located in the Fort Snelling State Park, entrance at Post Road of I-494, south of Minneapolis-St. Paul international airport.
- Minnesota Valley Refuge: Russel Public Water Access, under I-35W bridge in Bloomington, enter from Lyndale Avenue south.
- Minnesota River: Cedar Public Water Access Site, Under the Cedar Avenue Bridge (State Highway 77), off State Highway 13, northwest on Silver Bell Road, north on Nicols Road.
- Minnesota River: Shakopee Public Water Access, located in the city of Shakopee, on east of State Highway 101 on the north shore of Minnesota River.
- Minnesota River: Winkle Park Public Water Access, located in the city of Chaska in Winkel Park, just west of the County Road 41 bridge, west on West 1st Street, south on Cedar St on the west bank of Minnesota River.
- Minnesota River: Carver Public Water Access, located in the city of Carver, southeast of County Road 40, southeast on Oak Street, northwest on Main Street east, on the west bank of Minnesota River.
- Minnesota River: Thomas Ferry Public Water Access, 1.5 mi north of Jordan, on County Road 9.
- Minnesota River: Belle Plaine Public Water Access, located just north of the city of Belle Plaine on County Road 25.
Scientific and Natural Areas
State Wildlife Management Areas
Other nearby recreational opportunities
The following links will take you off the DNR website.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
Explore Minnesota Tourism
All users must yield to horses. Stop and dismount if requested.
- Stay on the trail.
- Keep to the right.
- All pets must be on a leash.
- Clean up all pet waste.
- Obey traffic signs and rules.
- Respect private property adjacent to the trail.
- Camping and campfires are not permitted on the Minnesota Valley State Trail.
- Enjoy the beauty of wild plants and animals, but leave them undisturbed for all to enjoy.
- Minnesota Rules, 6100.3000 apply on the Minnesota Valley State Trail.