Snapshot virtual 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.
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.
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.
This trail offers some beautiful views of the Minnesota River, but be sure to bring your bug spray.
Equestrian Day Use Parking
Horseback riding is very popular at the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area with its many miles of scenic trails.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
River at Thompson Ferry
Try your luck at fishing near the Thompson Ferry Boat Landing along the Minnesota River.
Trail Site 2
Park in the nearby lot and then hit the paved trail for an afternoon of biking.
Paved Trail in Shakopee
Enjoy a bike ride or walk along the Minnesota River on this paved trail through Shakopee.
Thompson Ferry Landing
The boat landing at Thompson Ferry offers access to the Minnesota River and has plenty of parking.
Trail Site 2 Parking - Winter
Start your snowmobile ride here at the parking area north of Highway 41, across the river from Chaska.
Louisville Swamp View
Snowshoers will delight in snowy trails on the neighboring Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Thompson Ferry in Winter
Snowmobilers may enjoy views of the frozen river near Thompson Ferry.
Winter offers opportunities for those who enjoy skiing or snowshoeing. Visitors may trek along miles of un-groomed trails.
Lawrence Unit Trail Center
Snowmobiling is a popular recreational activity along the Minnesota Valley State Trail each winter.
Minnesota Valley State Trail
The Minnesota Valley State Trail links up with many local snowmobile trails along the way.