Bikes, Birds and Beer, May 25, 2013 Outing: Fridley and Minneapolis

Join us for a leisurely way to enjoy spring.

When:  Saturday, May 25, 2013; Meet at 11:15 a.m. for the 11:30 train. The outing will finish at approximately 2:15 p.m. (though some may want to stay for a while at Pscho Suzi’s bar).

Where:  Target Field Station next to the end of the Hiawatha LRT on 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis.

What:  This is a bike and train outing, starting with a brief Northstar Commuter Train ride to Fridley that shows one way to use transit to reach metro green space. From the Fridley station we ride to Islands of Peace Regional Park, then cross the Mississippi River, ride south along the west side of the river through interconnected riverside parks, and last cross back to the east side of the river, ending at Psycho Suzi’s on Marshall Street N.E.

Difficulty: Easy, short bicycle ride. Estimated bike riding of 7 ¼ miles (more if you continue riding on your way home from the bar). There are some hills, but not demanding ones.

Cost: $2.50 for train ride, whatever it takes to put together a bag lunch, and what, if anything, you buy at the bar.

Contact info: Ron Williams, 763-533-3065, I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you plan to come. However, coming without notice is OK .


May 10th Update: Breaking news about the May 25th Bike, Birds & Beer outing: As we ride south by the Mississippi River in the early afternoon, we will steer west and up the hill as we enter Minneapolis to go to the Carl W. Kroenning Interpretive Center. At 1:30 p.m. Michelle, the naturalist there, will talk to us a little about the animal and plant life in North Mississippi Regional Park.

More Details:  We will start by meeting with our bikes at 11:15 a.m. Inside the station (which is at the northern most tip of Target Field) are the machines for buying tickets for the Northstar Commuter Line (cost, $2.50). Then we will take an elevator down to the Northstar Line platform. The train leaves promptly at 11:30 a.m. See map of these connections:

We will arrive at the Fridley train station at 11:43 a.m. From the station we will briefly ride on 61st Avenue and cross East River Blvd to get to the Mississippi River Regional Trail along that road. Stevenson Elementary School is at that juncture. We will ride mostly west about two minutes on that trail to the Islands of Peace Visitor Center and then cross a little wooden bridge (just north of the Center) to Chasis Island Park. For information about this site click on the url below:

When you get to that web page, click on “Anoka County Parks” (right under “Islands of Peace”).  The resulting page shows a picture of the bridge. Under “Resources” at the left of this page, click on “Park Map”. The result is the only accurate map of this area that I have found. We will eat lunch on park benches in Chasis Island Park. This heavily wooded park is a quiet respite from the busy suburb nearby. Many ducks and other birds make their home there. We can ride a mile or so of paved trails which circle inside the island. Close by and across the river is Durnham Island, also good for water birds but reachable only by boat.

After about a 45 minutes to one hour stay on the island (although our activity there is dependent upon whether there is flooding of the island at the time), we will go south on the Mississippi Regional Trail and cross the river on the 694 bridge to Brooklyn Center and the bike trail going south in River Edge Park. By that time we will have ridden about 2 ½ miles. We will continue another 2 ¾ miles, sometimes hugging the river, sometimes veering a little away. Much of the way is lined with trees, sometimes big trees, but we will also see some meadows. We may want to stop to watch and listen to birds, or to just relax by the river. Less than half-way down this stretch we will cross into Minneapolis’ North Mississippi Regional Park, and eventually cycle up and away from the river where Shingle Creek enters the Mississippi.

After a brief glance at Weber Park, we cross the river again on Camden Bridge. It is about a 2 mile ride from Weber Park to the Psycho Suzi’s bar at 1900 Marshall Avenue, N.E. (which is reputed to have a terrace overlooking the river). After Camden Bridge we will ride on the trail next to St.Anthony Parkway until we get to Marshall Avenue. The parkway affords a nice view of the river.After arriving at Psycho Suzi’s, there is no more collective bike riding, just pure socializing. Here are some suggestions on ways for you to go home

  1. Just ride wherever all the way.
  2.  Ride about two miles to downtown Minneapolis to ride public transit by going southeast on Marshall, then southeast on Main until you get to Hennepin. Turn right on Hennepin to go over the Hennepin Avenue Bridge.
  3.  Ride on Marshall down to 16th Avenue, turn left and go east four short blocks to 2nd Avenue to take the 2nd Avenue bus downtown.

Ski the Luminary Loppet, Sat. Feb. 2. – A Transit to Green Space Outing

Minneapolis’ 11th Annual Cross Country Ski Festival is coming up Feb. 2nd and 3rd!

The Sierra Club will once again be heading there on a transit outing to take in the fabulous Luminary Loppet, a 5 k. loop around Lake of the Isles through a magical wonderland of ice luminarias, bonfires, jugglers, hot drinks and more. Because this is a popular event, the Uptown area becomes very congested, so transit use really makes sense. And besides, you can download a free bus pass to get there and back. So join in the fun…

Here’s how:

  • Register for the Luminary Loppet, Saturday, Feb. 2 on the event website. Register for the 6:30pm start time to be with the SC group. Hurry! cost increases after1/15.
  • Download your bus pass on the loppet website.
  • Meet at 5:10 pm near the Merriam Park Library on Marshall Ave. in St. Paul for the 5:20 #21 bus. The ride takes about 40 minutes, time for people watching, chatting and relaxing. (The bus stop is 1 block west of Fairview on the north side of marshall Ave.)
  • Once we arrive at the Uptown station, we’ll walk over to the check in tent to collect our official loppet glow stick (our entry ticket), then set forth.

Much more information can be found on the Loppet website, so do consult it for additional details and pictures.

Contact Deb Alper for more details and to sign up for the Sierra Club outing:,or 651-699-9667


    Minnesota River Valley Hike – Dec. 1, 2012

    Ten people made this wilderness-in-the-city hike on a cloudy, but balmy Dec. 1. Rain held off, the bus left more or less on time (10:31) and we were back at the mall a bit before the projected return time of 2pm. A pleasant, 5 1/2 mile one way walk made possible by using transit.



    How to plan this hike:

    Summary: Bus #539 from the Mall of America to 1block past Portland Ave., 4th ave. stop. Walk about 1 mile south (left, down 3rd ave) through neighborhoods and the Pond-Dakota Mission historic site to the Minnesota River bluff trails. Walk east (left) on river valley trails to the Bass Ponds informational kiosk. Walk up the hill (left) to Old Shakopee Rd. Turn right and follow the road about 1/4 mile to the mall. 

    Further details:

    • Go online to to get the schedule for the 539 bus and for current fares. 
    • The #539 leaves the Mall of America transit center (SE corner of the mall, at the end of the light rail line); go to the #539 stop at Gate C, near the waiting room.
    • Make sure you have exact bus fare, your transfer from your previous transit, or your transit card.
    • Take the bus to 98 St E & 4 Av S, an 8 minute ride according to Metro transit. This stop is one block past the 98th st. – Portland Ave. intersection, a major intersection with a stoplight. Get off here.
    • Walk west (same direction as bus) along 98th for 1 block to 3rd ave., crossing when you can.
    • Walk south (left) on 3rd ave. til you reach 102nd st.; cross and continue along the edge of the sports fields til you reach 102nd st.; cross, and enter the grounds of the Pond-Dakota mission site.
    • Spur trails lead down hill from here. Take one, and then  turn left when you reach an intersection to start paralleling the river heading downstream. There are a number of spur trails along the route, but you will know when you’ve taken one of these if you end up at waters edge, or uphill in a residential neighborhood.
    • The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge map is helpful: “Long Meadow Lake Unit Trail Map”. Available online at
    • The area, with its woods and many wetlands is well-known for its wildlife and birds, but trails can be wet or flooded, especially in the spring. If you have concerns about conditions, it would be wise to check with the Wildlife Refuge at 952-854-5900.

    Dec 1: Hike the Minnesota River Valley

    What: A 5 1/2 mile one way hike through bluffland and river flats using the bus to reach our starting point at 98th street (Old Shakopee Road and 4th avenue south. The hike ends at the Mall of America, convenient to the light rail and many buses. Be sure to bring $1.75 for bus fare, or your transfer from previous service.


    WhereMeet at the MOA transit center at 10:20 am for the 10:31 bus. The transit center is located at the end of the light rail line. Bus #539 leaves from gate C which is next to the waiting room. 


    Difficulty: This is a moderate hike because of distance and some amount of climbing in the bluff areas. Trails vary from broad and flat, to rough and up and down. About one mile is through a Bloomington neighborhood.


    Contact: Deb Alper at 651-699-9667 or to rsvp or for more information.

    October 20 hike: Nine Mile Creek and the MInnesota River Valley

    The Transit to Green Space Project continues with an outing using the bus to do a one-way hike through two beautiful valleys. We’ve recently explored the route, which takes us through near-in Metro area green spaces that retain a wild feel. It makes for a fabulous walk, so join us if you can.

    What: A bus ride from MOA to 102st. W. & Penn Ave. S. (approximately 20 Minutes); a 5-6 mile hike through wooded park land along Nine Mile Creek to the Minnesota River, then east along Minnesota River trails to the Pond Dakota Mission and up (north) about 1 mile through playing fields and residential streets to a bus stop at 98th st. E. (Old shakopee Rd) and 4th ave. S. The ride back to the mall takes between 10 and 15 minutes. Bring water, snacks and lunch; we’ll stop to eat somewhere along the way.

    Where: Meet at the MOA transit center at 10:20 am for the 10:31 bus. The transit center is located at the end of the light rail line. Bus #539 leaves from gate C which is next to the waiting room.

    Difficulty: Because of its length and some climbing, this is a moderate hike for seasoned walkers. The route involves walking on both paved surfaces and wide dirt trails (Nine Mile Creek), and on narrow, irregular trails in the Minnesota Valley. There is also some climbing in bluff areas along the Minnesota River, although the Nine Mile Creek portion is a gradual descent. All but one section is wooded and shady, but heat may not be a problem on October 20. Part of the trail may be under water, so we recommend bringing flip flops for wading – the scouting party walked it in bare feet, and the gravel was pretty painful.

    Contact: Ron Williams <>; or 763-533-3065 for more information or to sign up. Ron can also help you plan your trip to the mall transit center.

    Lake Maria State Park Train and Bike Overnight


    Where: Lake Maria State Park is located about 55 miles northwest of Minneapolis and about 22 miles southeast of St. Cloud.

    When: August 4 – 5

    How: Northstar train from Target Field in Minneapolis to Big Lake (end of the line); bike from Big Lake station south on route #43, then west on route #39 through Monticello to route #11 (Clements Ave.). North on route #11 to the park entrance. We used Doug Shidell’s publication, “Northstar, You, Your Bike” to plan our route; it’s available to download for a price at

    How long: Here are GPS data recorded by a trip member.

    • The time is pretty accurate for time we were biking – I paused all the times we stopped (except at the Mexican supermarket).
    • breakdown of miles: 5.5 miles from station to Monticello, 8 miles to ranger office in park, 2 miles to camper cabin (the last 3/4 mile on trail).

    Note that the distance we recorded was significantly shorter than the distance listed in Shidell’s description, between 13+ miles to the park entrance, versus 19 miles. We were glad for the shorter ride because we had a pretty good headwind and were loaded with food and gear.

    Ease: This is not a physically strenuous trip, but is definitely one for people who like to be active. Here are some details.First, you need to get to the train. Of the six participants five road to the station, the longest trip being about 7 miles, another person came by bus. The train sits on tracks one flight below the ticketing area, so you take an escalator (or elevator due to your gear) to the platform. The platform is not at the same level as the entrance to the wagons, so you need to lift your laden bikes up the steps, easy with one person in front and another behind lifting the weight. Just something to consider if you’re travelling alone. At this writing there is plenty of room to spread out on the train heading north on a Saturday morning (departure 11:30am, arrival 12:19pm).

    A word about train schedules. The Northstar is a commuter train and unlike the light rail has limited service. Our return train Sunday at 2:43 pm was also the last train to Minneapolis – we couldn’t miss it. This required being disciplined about breaking camp and allowing enough time to bike back to Big Lake. Note that on Saturday the last train from Big Lake is at 5:13 pm, which makes a day trip to the area quite doable.

    The bike ride itself to the park is flat to gently rolling through pleasant farm land. Traffic is light and shoulders good for biking. Within the park roads are gravel and hilly – could be a problem for narrow tired bikes. All campsites and camper cabins are remote, walk-in sites, so you always have to travel the gravel roads and then walk. We were in camper cabin #1, which Raja’s GPS put us at 2 miles from the entrance (the park map indicated 1mile on road and then 3/4 mile on trail).

    Worth doing: This is a very pleasant trip, and Lake Maria Park is beautiful, with small lakes, hills covered in maple-basswood woodland, and not least, camp sites that are away from cars. To minimize gear, we chose to rent a camper cabin ($53.50 with the fee), like the campsites, remote and rustic. The site was picturesque, on a point between a lake and a pond. Trumpeteer swans on the lake and a big moon rising over it at dusk added to the ambiance. Reccomendations: spend time enjoying the site and the trails nearby rather than trying to canoe or kayak on Lake Maria, logistically difficult because of distance and the need to carry paddles from the park office; reserve space on a bike for a bundle of firewood which you would pick up when entering (avoids having to return for it); carry containers for water which you’ll fill in the park and carry to your site. None of them have water.

    Upcoming August 4: Overnight train and bike outing

    This is an exploratory outing for the adventurous at heart!

    Our destination is Lake Maria State Park, an area containing lakes and remnant maple-basswood forest, northwest of the Twin Cities. We’ll use Northstar Commuter Rail from Target Field to the end of the line in Big Lake, then bike some 20 miles to the park. To limit baggage, our night time shelter will be a camper cabin – houses 6, so space is very limited! Experienced bike campers might consider a campsite (10 left at this writing) and still join the group for the ride and meals.

    The cost: so far the only fixed costs are the train fare, $5.25 each way ($1.75 for youth under 12 and seniors), and the cost of the camper cabin, $53, which we’ll split among participants (maximum 6). We will need to add in our food costs, probably somewhere around $8-$10/person, which puts the total cost at between $20-$25/person, give or take. The return fare can be avoided if participants choose to ride the 55+- miles back to Minneapolis. Co-leader Brian Major is willing to lead people back, in fact will probably bike back himself regardless of other takers.

    The camper cabins and campsites at the park are all rustic and walk-in (no electricity, no flush toilets), but are generally located in picturesque settings on hills above lakes. You can take a virtual tour of the park at

    For more information or to sign up, contact Deb Alper at, or 651-699-9667.


    Photo of a rustic camber cabin, available for lodging year-round.

     Camper cabin at Lake Maria State Park

    Getting Out in Nature with the Sierra Club

    By Joel Mandella

    The Group

    The crisp crunch of golden leaves underfoot, the smarting touch of a mid-winter breath, the first rivulets of water through an iridescent icy waterfall, the sweet scent of ripening fruits mixed with smells of rich soil. Everybody has a dear memory of time spent outdoors—why not share that experience and form new ones with other interested individuals through one of the Sierra Club Outings?

    The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is delighted to offer year-round outdoors adventures in Minnesota to members and non-members alike! Participants do not have to pay any fee to join an outing—simply RSVP online and show up to the outing with adequate food, water, and clothing for the occasion. Sierra Club outings offer the opportunity to meet people who share similar outdoors interests, to visit spectacular areas of Minnesota, to enjoy a favorite hobby in nature, or to try a completely new activity!

    Outings in the past couple months have included a paddle and camping trip down the Minnesota River, a backpacking trip along the bluffs and bottomlands of the St. Croix River, a 36-mile bike ride through Cannon Falls Trail, a three-day canoe trip in the Ely district of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a 5-mile hike in Temperance State Park, and many more. Each outing varies in difficulty, distance, and duration, so that every individual can find an activity that suits their needs and capabilities.


    There are several specialized outings programs within the Sierra Club North Star Chapter: Inner City Outings, Transit to Green Space, and OWLS. These programs are meant to cater to individual areas of interest within outdoors activities.

    The Inner City Outings program strives to provide predominantly low-income youth with an introduction to outdoors activities and experiences. Outing adventures include dayhikes, backpacking, canoeing, camping, and skiing. For many of the children, this is their first wilderness experience and a highly valuable one.

    The Transit to Green Space program is a part of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Land Use and Transportation program. The ongoing aim of this program is to explore routes and modes of transportation to reach green spaces and parks without cars. Outings in the program are often urban park destinations, with Springbrook Nature Center, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Midtown Ecoyard, and Crosby Lake Park being some of the favorites.

    OWLS, which stands for Older, Wiser, Livelier Sierrans, is an outing program consisting of Sierra Club members who are of retirement age. This group meets every month to plan events revolving around being active and learning about the natural world, while building bonds within the Sierra Club. Outings in this program include skiing, canoeing, walking, and museum trips.


    The next Sierra Club outing is a bike ride through the Carver Park Reserve, and will be held this weekend on July 7th. Find out more about how to join this outing online! Opportunities for volunteers who wish to lead Sierra Club outings are also available. To find out more about participating in a Sierra Club outing or volunteering as an Outings Leader, click here!

    Coldwater Spring “Sneak Peek” outing


    What: Coldwater Spring will be a new unit of our local national park, MNRRA (Mississippi National River and Recreation Area), 72 miles of the Mississippi and environs through the metro area. It is a 29 acre parcel that the park service began managing in 2010, beginning by removing abandoned Bureau of Mines buildings. The plan is to restore the land to oak savanna, prairie and wetland and to daylight (ie uncover) Coldwater Creek. The spring itself is of historic significance to native Americans, and because of use by early EuroAmericans. An advocacy group, maintains that the spring (or springs) is a sacred place for native people and is pushing for its recognition as a traditional cultural property. Our Sierra Club group was offered a preview of the area with a park ranger and Kate Havelin of the Mississippi River Fund. Susu Jeffry of Friends of Coldwater also gave a brief account of the group’s differences with the Park Service, which you can read about at Friends of Coldwater.

    When: A misty Sunday in May.

    How: Several arrived by bike, others walking from the 50th Street light rail station, others by car (note that while the emphasis is on transit for TtGS outings, we don’t descriminate against people arriving by car, since transit from far flung places in our region is not always easy).

    How accesible: Coldwater Spring is very accesible by bike, lying at the south end of Minnehaha Park. Use the Minnehaha Park bluff bike trail and a dead end road running parallel to Hiawatha Ave. from 54th Street south for 1/4 mile. By light rail people can use the 50th street station and enjoy the walk along the bluff trail in Minnehaha Park (about 1 mile) or Veterans Administration stop, and then walk down 54th street to the dead end road, a route which is a little closer but takes you through the neighborhood, not the park. The closest transit is the #22 bus which has a stop at 48th ave. S. and 54th street, about 1/2 mile from the entrance to the site.

    Worth doing: The park is not yet open to the public, so taking a “sneak peek” tour is interesting. Because of the removal of large buildings the site does have the look of a construction zone with piles of rubble and large empty spaces, which is why going with a guide is important. Our guides Kate and Emily laid out the vision, which includes using rubble for walks and creating a calcareous fen out of a flooded area previously the basement of one of the buildings (see photos). They also showed us pictures of structures that existed in other eras around the spring – a surprising amount of development that at one point included a hotel. The current plan would keep the rustic spring house.

    For the schedule of sneak peek visits or to set one up, check out