Brooklyn Park, Hennepin County • No fee
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park—the West version, that is—has become Mississippi Gateway Regional Park. That was a welcome change to avoid confusion between this park and the one by the same name directly across on the east side of the river!
Regardless of its name, this regional park is a great little hiking spot with super views of the Mississippi River and easy access to the immense Coon Rapids Dam.
Available Hiking & Trail Running
Mississippi Gateway Regional Park hosts just a couple miles of hiking trails, mostly flat. But what it lacks in length is made up in its beauty and the out-of-the-way feel it gives.
We can’t get away from surrounding traffic noise while here, but the river and the woods give us a feeling of being away from city life even in the midst of a busy, urban area.
The hiking trails are dirt and grass, which is one of the reasons it seems less urban. A bike trail follows along the west edge of this park, but the two don’t mix.
If you’re looking for more hiking than what this park offers, a great option is to hike the loop here then make your way across the dam to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on the Anoka County side and hike their trails, too.
That’d also make a very nice trail run without being super challenging (very moderate-to-no hills!).
Why You’ll Love It Here
One of the best features of these hiking trails are the many accesses down to the Mississippi River. This sets it apart from the trails at the “other park” on the east side of the river.
Granted, most of these don’t give us an expansive view of the water, since there are several islands that sit between this west shore and the main body of the river.
But it’s special to be this close to our American giant of a river. It feels intimate.
Much of the shoreline here is sandy and flat, with a trail that follows along it for a little ways. Young kids would love playing here on the shore and next to (and in!) the shallow water here.
Another thing to look for is the foot bridge over a tiny creek on the south side of the park. That leads to another short hiking section.Heavily wooded, very clear water…simple and beautiful.
What Else is There To Do?
This park is just 160 acres, so not large compared to others in the metro area. Still, it makes good use of the space and location. Here are some other activities available here:
- Biking—as mentioned above, a bike trail follows the west border of the park, which is part of a much larger bike trail system. Access to Rush Creek Regional Trail and Shingle Creek Regional Trail on the west side of the river.
- Picnics—There are several picnic tables scattered about, including on one of the trail intersections.
- Natural Play Area—Perfect for preschoolers and toddlers. This area of logs to climb over and crawl through, little forts and shelters will stimulate both their imagination and large motor skills.
- Paddling—There are two very nice canoe/kayak launches a short portage from the parking lot, as well as rental kayaks right on the shore.
- Snowshoeing—The trails are open to snowshoeing in the winter, with rentals available at the Visitor Center.
- Fishing—There were a few guys fishing just below the dam when I was there.
How to Get There
The entrance to Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is on Russell Avenue North in Brooklyn Park. It’s just a few minutes northeast of Highway 610 and the Noble Parkway exit.