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Trail opens at Hastings' Spring Lake Park

The trail cuts down the edge of a bluff near the west end of the segment.1 / 8
There are two newly constructed bridges along the segment. Pictured here is the western bridge.2 / 8
The new trail connection for the MRRT connects to existing Hastings trails at Schaar's Bluff in Spring Lake Park.3 / 8
The Spring Lake overlook is one of the more spectacular vistas trail users get to see.4 / 8
Along the trail are a number of scenic stops and areas where trail users can rest.5 / 8
Near the west end of the trail segment is a space set up for outdoor classroom experiences.6 / 8
The new segment of the Mississippi River Regional Trail is now open, stretching between Schaar's Bluff and Spring Lake Regional Park just west of Hastings. A video of the entire segment can be found online at www.hastingsstargazette.com. (Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx)7 / 8
Some work had to be done to keep the trail at a reasonable grade.8 / 8

Spring Lake Park

The Spring Lake Park Segment of the Mississippi River Regional Trail is now open. The 4.3 mile section of the MRRT through the Spring Lake Park Reserve between Fahey Avenue in Rosemount and 127th Street in Nininger Township had been under construction for about a year and half.

"One of the key things the trail does is it provides year-round access to people of all abilities and interests to experience the Mississippi River," said Steve Sullivan, director of parks at Dakota County.

The $8.8 million project has new park amenities including three overlooks, a "bench" along the edge of the west facing bluff that allows users to reach the upper plateau of Schaar's Bluff, two pedestrian bridges that span approximately 570 feet in total length with overlook decks on each bridge span, a maximum 4 percent trail grade, more than 1,300 native trees, shrubs and perennials and interpretive signs.

Sullivan said the project will benefit the community and the park can be enjoyed in a way that people have enjoyed it for generations. The trail provides diverse recreation including walking, biking, jogging and hiking. A new outdoor classroom will provide programming for environmental education, Sullivan said. He went on to say the park provides an opportunity for people to learn about the rich history of the Mississippi River Valley.

The Spring Lake Regional Trail is part of a comprehensive trail system connecting the Minnesota cities of South St. Paul and Hastings. The MRRT also serves as part of the national Great River Road's Mississippi River Trail, travelling as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

Dakota County Parks said that although the trail is open, the contractor has minor items of work remaining this year and some additional plantings in the spring. Sullivan said a formal launch and grand opening of the trail will take place in the spring.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

(651) 319-4503
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