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.
- Go online to Metrotransit.org 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 http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley/map.html
- 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.