Everyone loves the Chain of Lakes and the Mississippi River trails, but Twin Cities runners sometimes need an escape from the crowds and to get onto softer surfaces. Luckily, urban dwellers need not stray far to find less trodden trails. Cue the Fort Snelling State Park Trail in the Minnesota River Bottoms. The trail can be picked up near downtown Mendota at an obscure footpath across the railroad tracks from the Sibley House Historic Site (55 D St., Mendota). The trail meanders southwest for nearly 6 miles, passing beneath the Mendota Bridge and Interstate 494 as it threads the serpentine river and Gun Club Lake on a narrow strip of land. Distance runners can connect via the Cedar Avenue Bridge for more nature running on the Long Meadow Lake Trail.

Best of Minnesota 2016

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