November 21, 2009

Minnesota River Bottoms

Got an email from the MDRA Polar Bears that they would be running the MN River Bottoms trail starting at the Sorensen Landing parking area this morning. After a sleep deprived week, I decided against setting my alarm clock so I missed the group run, but it did give me the idea to run the trail there for the first time ever. I don't know why I keep forgetting about this gem of a trail, especially since it's so close, but I have never laced up the sneakers to run here. Perhaps it goes back to my short lived mountain biking days and remembering how crowded and mosquito infested the trail could be.

Got to the trail head and a fairly crowded parking lot a little before 9 am. Decided to head west (to avoid the blinding morning sun shining directly into my eyes) and just go for 3-4 miles before turning around and heading back to my car. Beautiful morning: temps in the mid-30's, sunshine, no wind, and no bugs!

Going west, the trail starts out as a restricted access gravel road that keeps narrowing until it eventually becomes a single track. The tight, twisty turns reminded me of the Runnin' in the Ruff 10K course near Milaca. Passed a few runners that I didn't know heading back to the parking lot, but not many people out running at all! The trail was in excellent condition - hard packed dirt with just an occasional sticky spot. Running parallel to the Minnesota River, it was fairly flat in this section (I remember the section where I used to ride being much hillier). Just an occasional tree root - otherwise non-technical running.

After almost 2 miles, I got to the Nine Mile Creek crossing (see photo at top of post). The raft has been pulled out of the water for the season, but there is a solid bridge next to a fallen tree that makes it easy to get across without getting wet. About this time, I saw the first of what would turn out to be many mountain bikers heading the same direction that I was on the narrow trail. Since I only had a handheld with plain water and it seemed to be getting crowded, I decided to turn around after about 4 miles and head back to the start area. More and more mountain bikers - they just kept coming and I had to keep hopping off to the side of the trail. Now I was wishing I had gotten an earlier start since the bikers seem to like sleeping in too ;)

Time to cross the creek again (had to wait for 3 more bikers carrying their bikes across the bridge), then more nice twisty single track. Before I knew it, I was back at the parking area just as 4 more bikers were heading out.

This was a fun little run and I'll be back another time - I'd like to try going east next time to see if it's a little hillier and hopefully less crowded. Nice to have found another trail close to home!


Mike said...

It is hillier to the east but you will still encounter mt. bikes and they do come down the hills fairly quick so you do need to be on the look out. It is a lot more enjoyable though just not long enough. As if memory serves it's about 3 to 3.5 miles to the cedar bridge.

You can also cross over the cedar bridge (have to drive though) and run to the Sibley house (about 6 miles one way). It is a great place for some easy running.

Glad you rediscovered it.

wildknits said...

Kel - I have been curious about those trails for quite some time but hesitant to explore them on my own. Grew up in the area and kicked around near there as a kid back in the last century.

What a great day to get out for a morning run! Up north the trails were covered with frost, the ground was crunchy... sunrise over the lake was spectacular!

SteveQ said...

Can't believe I've never run there; now I'll have to take a look - the pictures are enticing!

Helen said...

Thanks for the report Kel - I think i will have to get myself there Thanksgiving morning - or else Lebanon Hills - never run at either and they are so close!!! will be a good way to start the festivities!