Minnesota Valley State Trail

Minnesota Valley State Trail

The multi-use Minnesota Valley State Trail is ideal for hiking, biking, horseback riding, mountain biking and snowmobiling. There are currently two segments of trail, each running through the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. The first, longest segment starts in Belle Plaine and ends in Shakopee. This segment is unpaved for 19.5 miles and runs from Belle Paine to the Gifford Lake Unit near Chaska. From Chaska to Fisher Lake in Shakopee, the trail is paved for 9.8 miles. The second, smaller segment begins at Minnesota Bottoms Landing on the Minnesota River, near 35W, and runs for 1.7 miles eastward to Blackdog Lake in Bloomington.

Visitor alert

  • The Thompson Ferry and Carver Rapids Unit will be open for archery deer hunting from September 18-Dec 31. Please be aware that there may be hunters in these units. It is recommended to wear blaze orange or blaze pink if you are recreating in these areas.
  • The trail is closed from County Road 9 at Thompson Ferry to Louisville Swamp.
  • The Thompson Ferry Public Water Access is currently closed due to safety concerns caused by the continuing drought.

(Updated September 9, 2021)

Landscape

The Minnesota River Valley is a rich mosaic of plant and animal communities, full of floodplain marshes, wet meadows, fens and lakes. These wetlands are maintained by the river and by the spring-fed streams that drain 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.

The Minnesota River may flood when large amounts of rain enter the watershed. The following trail segments are often wet and muddy, so bring proper footwear: West of the Thompson Ferry Unit parking area; west of the Carver Rapids Unit parking area; east of the Chaska parking area; and many sections in the Lawrence Unit. 

Virtual tours

Panoramic tour | Snapshot tour | Region-wide tour

Trail uses

hikingHiking

bikingBiking

mountain bikingMountain biking

in-line skatingIn-line skating

horsebackHorseback

snowmobilingSnowmobiling

Trail events

Events Calendar

Scroll table right to see more »

There are currently no event listings.

Permits
Parking

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 and continue 2/3 of a mile past the train tracks. Gifford Lake public water access is on the west side of State Highway 41, before Chaska.
    GPS coordinates: N 44.777932, W -93.594149
  • Lyndale Avenue Public Water Access: From I-35, take the W 106th Street exit. Head east to Lyndale Avenue and take a right to the south. 
  • Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Louisville Swamp Unit: Parking and trail access is available at the Louisville Swamp trailhead. 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, and then 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 Access: Take U.S. Highway 169 to Jordan, turn north onto County Road 9. Thompson Ferry Access 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.
Restrooms

Restroom facilities are provided along the trail at these points:

Winter

Cross-country skiing is available along the trail and in the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, but there are no groomed trails.

Snowmobiles are allowed on the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which connects to local snowmobile trail systems. Note: Snowmobiles are not allowed on the Minnesota Valley State Trail in Bloomington.