On a sunny Saturday five of us set forth to do a hike which was explored (and listed, but somehow never took place) in 2012. We “Went Green”, using the #539 bus from the Mall of America to reach our starting point, and then 3 hours later caught another bus from our end point to return. Transit is especially useful in river valleys because linear routes are the name of the game. As it was, one person had to double back half way because he came with his dog – still not allowed on metro transit no matter how friendly. The rest of us did a 5- 6 mile one way trip with no repeating.
All of us agreed this is a hike well worth doing not just for the exercise, but for the beauty of the woods, the creek, and the river and its bluffs. The terrain is amazingly wild despite its close proximity to urban areas, and how lucky we are to have the transit available to do it.
What we did: 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 to a bus stop at 98th st. E. (Old Shakopee Rd) and Nicollet Ave. We chose the Nicollet stop along 98th st. because a Holiday station and Burger King nearby provide opportunities to find rest rooms and food. The ride back to the mall takes between 10 and 15 minutes.
How to plan this hike:
- 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 Penn Ave. S. & 102nd St. W., stop #3446
- Find the park entrance. A bit tricky. You need to walk in a straight line as if Penn Ave. continues into the condo development across Old Shakopee Rd. Follow along to the right about 100 ft. and on your left you’ll see a sign for a walking trail. It descends into the park between two rows of condos.
- The Bloomington parks map, “Active Living and Hiking Guide” would be helpful from here on. Basically, you follow the creek down to the Minnesota River, then turn left.
- After going under I-35 and passing a parking area (the Russell A. Sorensen Landing), you have a little over a mile of river bluff trails to walk before turning up to the Pond Dakota mission historical site. Take the trail going uphill shortly after you cross a stream on a wooden bridge (there’s no signpost).
- From the mission it’s approximately 1 mile through playing fields and 2 long blocks of city streets to the bus stops along 98th st.