Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area Snapshot Tour

Welcome to the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area virtual tour! The area is great for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or snowmobiling. However you choose to explore, you’ll cross diverse landscapes that include wetlands, floodplain forest and blufftop oak savanna. We hope it prompts you to visit the park in person sometime soon.


Photo of Horseshoe Lake, one of the best spots in the Lawrence Unit where migrating songbirds and waterfowl are found.
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Horseshoe Lake

Just minutes from the Twin Cities, this state recreation area preserves part of the Minnesota River Valley. This area offers diverse habitats that include wetlands, floodplain forest, and blufftop oak savanna. Horseshoe Lake is one of the best spots in the Lawrence Unit of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area to see migrating songbirds and waterfowl in large numbers.


Photo of the Minnesota River as it meanders along the valley floor.
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Minnesota River

The massive Glacial River Warren shaped the Minnesota River Valley 11,000 years ago. The erosive force from the glacial meltwater excavated a valley 320 miles long, up to five miles wide, and 250 feet deep. Today, only a relatively small and placid Minnesota River meanders along the valley floor.


Photo of a pair of horseback riders traveling on the Lawrence Unit trail.
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Lawrence Unit

This trail offers some beautiful views of the Minnesota River, but be sure to bring your bug spray.


Photo of horse trailers using the Equestrian Day Use parking area.
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Equestrian Day Use Parking

Horseback riding is very popular at the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area with its many miles of scenic trails.


Photo of a picnic table in the equestrian campground.
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Equestrian Campground

Bring your horse, enjoy the trails, and stay for the whole weekend at the equestrian campground. Each campsite in this open area has a picnic table, fire ring, and hitching post.


Photo of the trail center, a fine place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
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Trail Center

Park your vehicle at the trail center to enjoy a picnic lunch or to start an afternoon on the trails. Even if it rains, the trail center building will have you covered.


Photo of the  S. B. Strait House which is all that remains of the paper town of St. Lawrence.
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S. B. Strait House

The S. B. Strait House is all that remains of the paper town of St. Lawrence. The town was planned on paper, but attempts to draw settlers to the area failed. New arrivals to the area decided to lay down roots in nearby Jordan and Shakopee instead of St. Lawrence.


Photo of a view of the Minnesota River on a sunny day among the sand dunes.
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Minnesota River Valley

It can be a difficult hike up this sand dune, but you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the Minnesota River.


Photo of the Thompson Ferry riverside picnic area.
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Thompson Ferry Picnic Area

Enjoy a picnic lunch near the river. Spread out with family or friends at several picnic tables available at this location.


Photo of the Thompson Ferry Boat Landing along the Minnesota River parking area.
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River at Thompson Ferry

Try your luck at fishing near the Thompson Ferry Boat Landing along the Minnesota River.


Photo of the river's edge near the paved trail.
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Trail Site 2

Park in the nearby lot and then hit the paved trail for an afternoon of biking.


Photo of a paved trail along the Minnesota River.
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Paved Trail in Shakopee

Enjoy a bike ride or walk along the Minnesota River on this paved trail through Shakopee.


Photo of bikers using the trail within the park near the boat landing.
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Thompson Ferry Landing

The boat landing at Thompson Ferry offers access to the Minnesota River and has plenty of parking.


Photo of the park's winter season showing the parking area north of Highway 41.
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Trail Site 2 Parking - Winter

Start your snowmobile ride here at the parking area north of Highway 41, across the river from Chaska.


Photo of Louisville Swamp in the wintertime.
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Louisville Swamp View

Snowshoers will delight in snowy trails on the neighboring Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


Photo of snowmobilers traveling along the frozen river near Thompson Ferry.
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Thompson Ferry in Winter

Snowmobilers may enjoy views of the frozen river near Thompson Ferry.


Photo of the Beason Lake area where there are opportunities for skiing or snowshoeing in the snow.
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Beason Lake

Winter offers opportunities for those who enjoy skiing or snowshoeing. Visitors may trek along miles of un-groomed trails.


Photo of a parked snowmobile within the Lawrence Unit Trail Center.
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Lawrence Unit Trail Center

Snowmobiling is a popular recreational activity along the Minnesota Valley State Trail each winter.


Photo of a junction of the Minnesota Valley State Trail linking with many local snowmobile trails.
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Minnesota Valley State Trail

The Minnesota Valley State Trail links up with many local snowmobile trails along the way.


Virtual Tours

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area home page

Legacy Amendment logo

This program is made possible by funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.