Named after the creek that meanders through the area and flows into the Mississippi River, just below the dam, Coon Rapids offers a great mix of wildlife viewing spots here. Two of my favorite trail systems, especially in the spring and fall, are the Coon Creek Reginal Trail and the Mississippi River Trail below the dam. Both trail systems, when the foliage is minimal, offer some spectacular birding and wildlife viewing. In the winter months, the trails are great for fat bike riding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing to view birds of prey and other wildlife along the waterways. Look for signs of the abundant wildlife that live in or visit the areas described below (mink, beaver, hawks, osprey, deer, turtles, and river otters, to name a few).
Riding the trails and roads of Coon Rapids
Herewith a great mix of paved trails and bike corridors with wide shoulders, You can navigate the city on your bike pretty easily. Just use this handy Coon Rapids bike map and take a tour of the area. It’s easy to connect from your hotel to Bunker Hills Regional Park or the Coon Rapids Dam through the Coon Creek Trail.
The Sand and Coon Creek Trails
A north/south paved nature corridor and waterway offer many viewing spots along the way. The Sand Creek/Coon Creek Trail System stretches over 15-miles from Bunker Hills Regional Park down to the Coon Rapids Dam. In Bunker Hills, you’ll find another trail system winding through beautiful prairie areas with patches of Oak Savanna forests.
The lower portion of the Coon Creek Trail takes you through Erlandson Nature Center and Robinson Park before reaching the Coon Rapids Dam and the Mississippi River Trail.
The Mississippi River Trail (MRT southern loop)
Below the Coon Rapids Dam and Park Area is another favorite of mine. Using the paved trail (MRT), you are surrounded by a mix of nature. Forests running into both prairie and wetland environments, only minutes away from the main road. The trail here is very well marked with MRT signage, so getting lost won’t be an issue. At the south end of the park, along the trail between the Dam and the riverfront neighborhoods, is a favorite haunt.
Where to eat, stay and play when visiting Coon Rapids
The options are endless when spending time visiting Coon Rapids and the other eight neighboring Twin Cities Gateway communities in the north suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Similar to the early 1800s, when Coon Rapids was a stopping point on the Oxen Trail from the Red River Valley to St. Paul, hospitality is still key, along with its wildlife corridors, though the trails have changed. Check out their website here, and enjoy!