BEST PLACE TO HIKE (URBAN) Minneapolis 1999 -
The St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail offers something for everyone: scenic views of the Minneapolis skyline, the industrial past's remnants, and the Mississippi River; a smattering of local history; groomed areas and benches to rest in and on; and some unruly flora--everything except the chance of crossing paths with a deer (this is best urban hike, after all). The western portion of the trail is cosmopolitan, with its blacktop trails hosting joggers, bikers, and the world-weary slumped in the black metal benches that overlook the river. The eastern side plays host to the old-fashioned, cobblestone charm of Main Street, where ducks and geese squawk during the day and horse-drawn carriages clip-clop on a summer evening. Bridging the divide are the Hennepin Bridge and the Stone Arch Bridge. A perch atop the latter, an old railway trestle from the 1880s, offers a sweeping view of St. Anthony Falls, the locks, and Hennepin Island. If you desire a hike that is a bit less manicured and a bit more challenging, proceed to Hennepin Bluffs Park, where the wooden stairs lead to the Lower Trail. Down along the riverbanks, you can partake of refreshingly tangled and unmanaged foliage. Last, don't forget the history: All along the trail, kiosks and markers bearing sepia-toned photos and maps tell tales of bridge building, flour making, native inhabitants, geological features, and loads more.