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The Hardwood Creek Regional Trail is actually two parallel trails running along US 61 in rural Washington County. The paved trail is open for biking, walking, running, and in-line skating, while the adjacent grass trail is exclusively for equestrian use in the summer and snowmobile use in the winter. The entirety of the trail is located on a former Burlington Northern Railroad corridor. Resurfaced in the spring of 2015, the entire trail offers a smooth, level, and nearly arrow-straight route between its two trailhead communities.
Begin your journey in Hugo, a bedroom community featuring many shops and restaurants. The views quickly change to open fields as you leave residential areas. Several other places of business can be found in downtown Forest Lake, located just south of the trail’s northern endpoint. At the Washington–Chisago county line, the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail becomes the Sunrise Prairie Trail, which continues north for another 17 miles to North Branch. A more practical access point for those wanting to take the trail south from Forest Lake is to start near US 61 and Broadway Avenue. A little more than a mile south of the official northern terminus, this trail access offers ample parking, nearby retail shops and services, and a chance to enjoy Lakeside Park, just two blocks east on the shores of Forest Lake.
To reach the Hugo trailhead, take I-35E N. to Exit 123A. Head east on Main St., which becomes Frenchman Road, and go 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Forest Blvd. N., and in 0.3 mile turn left onto 146th St. N. Parking is on the left.
Parking is also available at the Washington County Headwaters Service and Transit Center located at Headwaters Pkwy. and US 61 near the trail’s midpoint. Take I-35 N. to Exit 129. Head east on Lake Drive N.E./MN 97, and go 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Forest Road N., and go 1.2 miles. The transit center is on the left.
In Forest Lake, park at US 61 and Broadway Ave. Take I-35 to Exit 131. Head east 0.8 mile on W. Broadway Ave. Parking is on the left just after crossing US 61.
The seven miles in Washington County are in great shape as of 6/2107. Many of the stop signs have been replaced with YIELD signs and the crossings are in good shape. Only one risky intersection on Hwy 8 going to I35.
Love this trail! Use it to train as it isn't very busy and has a lot of uninterrupted sections to get up to speed and maintain it.
This trail was resurfaced spring 2015, and it's now an extremely smooth ride - with a low grade, as mentioned by another reviewer.
Although Hardwood runs along the highway, it is very scenic, and worth a ride if you're in the area.
The Sunrise Prairie Trail, which connects to Hardwood shortly north of forest lake, still has not been repaved, and it can be a little bumpy (but nothing I have ever worried about).
the area is beautiful but between this trail and the one north I end up with a headach and sore back by time I am done, it is defintely not meant for a road bike. I normally end up driving down to the Gateway Trail which is much smoother and user friendly.but 30 miles away. Which is sad because i live very close to Wyoming where I normally ride to North Branch, then south down to Hugo and back. 50 miles, but not much fun with the pot holes which at some points are very dangerous. So, much better off at the Gateway. Both sides I mentioned are very bunpy with many cracks going accross the entire trail so no way to avoid, and you always have to be looking down so you don't hit a pothole unexpectedly.
I am very dissapointed in the trail.
This is a very easy, safe, comfortable ride. No hills. No bends. If you are heading north from the cities, this and the adjoining Sunrise Prairie trails are definitely the best, most efficient way out of town!
If you want an easy, safe trail to ride with your kids... this is a good choice. There are places to get ice cream, etc at both ends of the trail.
This is not a particularly pretty trail. It is in the open, rarely shaded, straight and follows US Hwy 61 pretty close.
This trail is a great means of getting from point A to point B.
Aug. 2013 My wife and I rode this trail along with the connecting Sunrise Trail this summer. This trail has minimal grade change so is an easy ride. There are numerous cracks across the pavement which made for a bumpy ride. Trail runs between I-35 and US61 so the scenery is rather bland. Best part of the day was pizza at 'ZA! Italian Minnesotan in Forest Lake. Worth finding. About a block east of the trail on North Lake Street.
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