Wandering Pine is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you! Learn more.
LENGTH 10 miles
DATE March 4, 2018
MAIN FEATURES Flat multi-use trail, accessible to all levels. Windy!
There is only person I can go on an unplanned 10 mile hike with. This person escalates everything into a full fledged adventure and swears that every bald eagle I see is actually a vulture or a crow…
Saturday was a 6 mile day full of mud, ice and puddles with the dog. So, a Sunday stroll in Stillwater along the River sounded great!
We originally intended on starting on main street and hiking to the new Stillwater bridge…
…which escalated to hiking a loop over the new bridge, through Wisconsin and back to Minnesota on the OLD Bridge…
…which then escalated to crossing the frozen river on a 35 degree day and scrambling up the bluffs when we realized the old bridge was closed…
…which briefly turned into hiking from Hudson to Stillwater and having Mom pick us up…(not the first time Mom has rescued us in Stillwater)…
…which de-escalated back to just crossing the new bridge and back after 3 phone calls and half a dozen texts.
This is what I love about hiking with my sister, and this is exactly how we ended up going on our first kayak trip down the St Croix together.
Our hike started at the River Market Co-op parking lot and we found the trail head shortly after the Freight House Brewery. We didn’t look at a map beforehand, agreed that we did not wander enough and enjoyed the opportunity to just walk toward a giant landmark (the bridge) and not worry about getting turned around. We did both bring a small pack with an extra layer, water, snacks and our usual hiking essentials and were glad to have them since it was damp and windy.
Since I am not familiar with the trails in this area, I learned after the fact, that we were on a new section of the Brown’s Creek/Gateway Trail This trail connects the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the St Croix River as part of the St. Croix Crossing bridge project and goes all the way to St Paul! The Loop trail that we originally wanted to walk looks like it will be complete when the lift bridge re-opens in 2019
Located on a converted rail-trail, the Gateway State Trail offers 18 miles of paved trail for non-motorized use. The trail begins in the city of St. Paul, travels northeast through the cities of Maplewood, North St. Paul, and Oakdale, through Washington County, and ends at Pine Point Regional Park, just four miles northwest of the city of Stillwater. More
Although we were on a dedicated foot/bike path, a good chunk of our hike was along the highway. About half of it went through a wooded path, prairie and along the marina. The highlight was crossing the new St Croix Bridge!.
From the bridge, we saw 4 bald eagles gathered around, eating something on the frozen river just below us. I like to count bald eagles, so this brought the official count up to 17 this year. We also enjoyed the overlooks of the River Valley and the thrill of hiking with a face full of arctic winds and panic induced camera failure. I regretted trusting the car thermometer and quickly wished I had one more top layer and my rain pants along.
By the time we got back to the car, we had logged a little over 9 miles, so a brisk walk up and down Myrtle Street (the BIG HILL) was the perfect way to top off our GPS trackers to finish off a 10 miler.
Overall, this is a great walk with lots of things to do in the surrounding area. Stillwater is a great place to make a day of what the historic town has to offer while getting a good long walk or bike ride in.
We will be back this summer to check out the Gateway and hoof the 20 miles to St Paul!
Have you explored the trails in Stillwater on bike or foot? Shoot us your comments here!