Thursday, October 30, 2014

Brown’s Creek State Trail opens, capping construction season at Minnesota state parks and trails

Following the installation of a bridge over Manning Avenue in June and the recent completion of paving, Brown’s Creek State Trail is now open, the Department of Natural Resources announced today. The 6-mile trail connects Stillwater to the Gateway State Trail, which continues to St. Paul.

“With the nice weather we’ve been having, many people may still be able to get out this fall for a walk or a bike ride on Brown’s Creek State Trail,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It’s a very exciting addition to the Minnesota state parks and trails system, and the DNR is grateful to Washington County, the city of Stillwater and the Gateway-Brown’s Creek Trail Association for their support throughout the project.”

Rivers added that the DNR and representatives of these organizations look forward to celebrating the completion of the trail at a special event on Saturday, June 6, in conjunction with National Trails Day.

The trail is one of several major projects wrapping up or recently completed at Minnesota state parks and trails, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state.

“Reinvesting in Minnesota’s outdoor recreation infrastructure will help us connect more people to the great outdoors,” Rivers said. “Assistance from many local government partners and community organizations was key to completing these projects. Legacy funding also made many of them possible.”

In addition to trail, highlights of the 2014 construction season include:
An 11,000-square-foot visitor center and MnDOT safety rest area with a view of Lake Superior opened at Tettegouche State Park in June.

Four camper cabins opened in June at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota.

The 4-mile Vermilion Park Drive was paved at Lake Vermilion State Park, where work will begin next spring on a modern campground.

A restroom building and visitor plaza opened at the Ray Berglund State Wayside on the North Shore in July.

A 6-mile trail segment connecting the Paul Bunyan State Trail to Crow Wing State Park opened in July.

Scott County took the lead to pave a 4-mile segment of the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which runs parallel to state Highway 101, from Memorial Park in Shakopee to the Wilkie Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, east of Valleyfair.

Renovation of an historic camp store into a guesthouse and a new, 5-mile segment of the bike trail at Itasca State Park were completed in September.

Two historic shelters, Ladyslipper Lodge and Lakeview Lodge, were renovated at Gooseberry Falls State Park, and can now be rented by visitors.

A new trailhead—with expanded parking, a changing station and a vault toilet—is near completion at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

Seven yurts were constructed this summer—two at Afton State Park, two at Glendalough State Park and three at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area—and will open as soon as wood-burning stoves are installed and final inspections are conducted.

This is a partial list of recent projects; many more are done or underway. Most of the funding for development and rehabilitation projects comes from bonding and the Parks and Trails Fund, which receives 14.25 percent of the Legacy Amendment sales tax revenue. For fiscal year 2014 (which ended June 30), the Parks and Trails Division budgeted $4.22 million for new development projects and $3.88 million for rehabilitation projects.

Recent data suggest that Minnesotans’ investments in the outdoors are resulting in increased participation in outdoor recreation. For example, as of the end of September, year-to-date sales of daily state park vehicle permits were up 2 percent over last year, and sales of year-round permits were up 5 percent.

“While capital improvement projects and permit sales are two tangible measures of success,” Rivers said, “more important are the many positive memories families took home with them after visiting Minnesota state parks and trails throughout the summer and this amazing fall. Those memories will last a lifetime.”

For a map and more information about Brown’s Creek State Trail, visit For other information about Minnesota state parks and trails, visit or call the Information Center
651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.