The sprawling, much-loved metro trail system is finally at Edina's door.

Two new park district reports offer information that will guide the affluent suburb's selection of a route from among 14 possible combinations for the new Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail.

The trail is expected to run from Hopkins, through Edina and Richfield, to the National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington.

At either end, the new trail would connect with 100 miles of existing regional trails used by cyclists and walkers.

The 7 to 8 miles of trail proposed for Edina would pass hundreds of homes, bridge two highways and require boardwalks to be built through wetlands.

The total estimated cost for the Edina segment is $17 million to $20 million, according to the Three Rivers Park District reports on environmental, social, technical and financial aspects of the trail.

Possible routes for the Edina segment that mostly follow roadways would pass 182 residences and cross several driveways.

Routes predominantly lining Nine Mile Creek would run near 245 homes, at a distance of 25 to hundreds of feet away. Most of the land needed along the creek is publicly owned.

The findings, taken from the Park District's Environmental Assessment Worksheet and a Community Assessment Team Analysis, provide the first detailed look at the Edina segment of the trail.

Although some creekside homeowners object to the intrusion of a 10-foot-wide trail with 3-foot shoulders on either side, the reports found no show-stopping environmental or technical issues, said Kelly Grissman, senior planning manager for Three Rivers.

With the Hopkins and Richfield segments already under construction, Edina is "a critical gap in the regional trail system and a community under-served by regional trail opportunities," the community assessment report said.

Public meetings this month

The new trail continues Three Rivers' efforts to bring park amenities to first-ring suburban residents who support the Park District with tax dollars but don't have the large parks and natural open spaces offered in western Hennepin County.

Edina residents pay about $3.5 million a year in taxes to Three Rivers.

Three Rivers began planning the Nine Mile Creek trail through Edina at the request of the city. A 2006 survey by the Edina Park and Recreation Department found that many residents wanted more bike and walking paths.

In Edina, the Nine Mile Creek trail would connect to Hopkins under Hwy. 169. All of the 14 possible routes would take the trail over Hwys. 62 and 100; some would have trail bridges and some would use road bridges.

The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District has a stringent replacement ratio for wetlands, requiring 9 acres of replacement wetlands for every acre lost to development, Grissman said. As a result, segments of the trail across wetlands would be built on boardwalks to minimize disruption.

None of the wetlands near the trail are considered pristine, she said. Areas of the wetlands judged to be high quality are ranked for their value for storing water, not for special plant or animal communities.

Two public information meetings on the findings will be held this month in the gym at Southview Middle School, 4725 South View Lane, Edina. The first will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on June 22, with a presentation at 6:30 p.m. The second will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on June 30, with a presentation at 5:30 p.m.

The environmental assessment worksheet will be available at Edina City Hall, Edina Library, Southdale Library in Edina and Three Rivers Park District in Plymouth. The community assessment report -- which, among other things, lists the front, side and back yards adjoining the trail -- is available on the Park District's website at

After the information meetings, Edina and Three Rivers officials are expected to have joint discussions on the routes. Edina will recommend a route for Three Rivers' approval and the park board is expected to select a route this fall, Park District spokesman Jason McGrew-King said.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711