Description: Big Rivers Regional Trail is built on an old railroad bed which provides picturesque views of the Minnesota and Mississipi Rivers. The rails to trails asphalt trail rests between high limestone bluffs and scenic river valleys.
Length: 4.4 miles one way. It is an out and back trail with a consistent gradual decline/incline between Mendota Heights and Lilydale. You can skate further to Harriet Island along and to the Missisippi River, however, to be safe, you will need to be comfortable road skating with no shoulders and an occasional vehicle.
Getting There: To get to the Mendota Heights (higher elevation – you will skate down) parking lot, take Highway 55 South over the Mendota Bridge. Stay on highway 55 and turn right on to Highway 13. Turn right onto Mendota Heights Rd. The trailhead is at the junction of Highway 13 and Sibley Memorial Highway (or Old Highway 13).
Lilydale entrance (lower elevation – will skate up to Mendota Heights) take Highway 35E to Highway 13. Travel North on 13, then turn right on Lilydale Rd. Lilydale Rd travels under Hwy 13 bridge down a hill where public parking is available.
Parking: West Trailhead (1498 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights)
Overlook parking entrance is off Sibley Memorial Highway just northwest the intersection of Highway 13 and Mendota Heights Road in Mendota Heights, MN. There is free, limited parking available at stone overlook.
East Trailhead (1292 Lilydale Rd., St. Paul)
A smaller parking lot is available at the east end of the trail just off Hwy. 13 on Lilydale Road. *Note: The private Yacht Club is unwelcoming of public parking.
Usage: There is mild to moderate use of the Big Rivers Trail. Use during the day is generally mild, while weekends results in an uptick of use, but never too crowded.
Surface Condition: The trail is a consistent incline from Fort Snelling overlook down to Lilydale. What goes down must go up, so expect to skate uphill on the way back from Lilydale. The surface is fairly smooth to weathered in specific areas.
Scenery: The trail offers picturesque views overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississipi Rivers as well as Fort Snelling State Park.
Water: No water source available. We recommend bringing a personal water source, snack and minor skate repair tools.
Difficulty: Intermediate. There is a long gradual incline from one Lilydale to Mendota, but it is not too tough.
Skating ability recommendations: We recommend proficiency in OSB Level 1 – 4, and trail skate 1. Skaters’ who can stop, start and turn with ease on flats and down mild inclines; are able to employ the defensive skate position, stabilizer, heel brake stop are prepared for Big Rivers Regional Trail.
Fitness recommendations: We recommend skaters can skate at least 8 miles on intermediate inline skate trail or just skate
Other Trails that Connect: No other asphalt skate trails connect to The Mendota Big Rivers Regional Trail.
Commentary: The trail is a very scenic skate with beautful views of Minnesota’s best rivers. Due to its friendly long gradual incline, Big Rivers is very useful for hill workouts.
Lesson Meeting Place: We meet at the Mendota Heights parking lot.
Student Joan Gregg Skating the Big Rivers Regional Trail
June 28, 1938 to June 4, 2016.