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News & Project Updates

News and Projects about the Gateway & Brown's Creek Trails.

  • 03/13/2016 6:02 PM | GBCTA (Administrator)

    A subversive act? How to appreciate a walk in the middle of the workday
    Bob Timmons, Star Tribune

    It was a late-February day, in early afternoon, the sky thick and gray, mustering what light it could. And it was cool, made cooler by a dampness that raised the notion of spring but made me second-guess my decision to leave my gloves behind.

    Still, it was a good day to be outdoors. It was a good day to simply walk.

    At midday on a Wednesday, the act bordered on the subversive in the face of modern life’s frenetic pace and even the other recreational possibilities (I wasn’t fat biking or snowshoeing or running). Before me was an opportunity to detach for a brief time at nature’s pace and bidding. At the trailhead I emptied my mind of to-do lists and thoughts of what awaited me afterward, pointed myself southward, and just walked.

    I set foot on the Gateway State Trail, in Grant — new for me, in the sense that for years I’ve only really ever known the state trail by wheel or on the run, its woods and wetlands, its occasional hobby farm and horse trails, always rushing past in the periphery.

    Before long, the white noise of traffic dissipated. In the solace and quiet, my mind opened to the moments at hand. I picked up the hint of wind that rustled winter’s holdovers on the oak trees. Then, a large red-tailed hawk sliced overhead, perhaps looking for nest materials. And what of that chickadee that flew up to me oh, so close?

    All along, there were hundreds of tracks in what remained of the snow, less solid by the day. Some human, some animal, the tracks stepped this way and that. Fallen leaves made their own impressions, too, like elfen snowshoes had set down. More curious were the tracks on the gray ice of ponds in mid-thaw. Some of the imprints were unrecognizable, or stopped at center ice, or disappeared on a distant shore. There was some story there it seemed. Who or what made some of those? No doubt the answers come at night.

    At one of the larger ponds, I followed surface tracks that led up to their owners standing over their tip-ups, no doubt also finding their freedom just like me.

    I happened by other walkers, some solo, some in groups walking with a purpose. Regulars at the state’s parks and points on the North Shore, Mike Fuerst and Eileen Kellen were out there, too, but clearly heard a different call. The retired couple from St. Paul stopped, studied, photographed. They looked deeply.

    “You never know what you are going to see, and that is the exciting part,” said Minnesota state park naturalist Linda Radimecky, who leads midweek trail walks that include the Gateway. “If  you are walking, you do see things that you don’t see on your bike, you don’t see while you are running. … There are mysteries.”

    The human encounters, too, shouldn’t be overlooked. “There is a camaraderie among strangers. People show up, and the common goal is to walk and see what’s out there. By the end, you end up chatting with people and having a great time.”

    Back on the trail, the occasional power line or highway overpass encroached on my outing, but I felt more detached from the modern world with each step, each bird call, each whisper of red oak leaves in the breeze. The Gateway’s natural world had contained me but for a few hours in nature’s clarifying way that opens us to the bigger reality at work — and our truer selves.

    It was a good day to simply walk.


    Bob Timmons • 612-673-7899

    ABOUT 10,000 Takes: 10,000 Takes is a new digital section featuring first-person essays about life in the North Star State. We publish narratives about love, family, work, community and culture in Minnesota.

  • 07/03/2015 8:01 PM | GBCTA (Administrator)

    MN Trails magazine recently featured an article covering the grand opening of the Brown's Creek State Trail. The article also features a number of great photos from the grand opening. View the entire article here and enjoy the photo gallery here!

  • 06/06/2014 5:44 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
        At the end of April Carolyn Baird, with help from MAGI member Dennis Lindeke, installed 14 new PVC style bluebird houses along the Gateway Trail. The 14 houses are installed in pairs, starting with two at Pine Point Park and ending with four on either side of the new Wildwood school. Carolyn and Dennis monitor the houses weekly.

       The most recent count was conducted on Saturday, May 31. Ten of the 14 houses were occupied. There were 14 bluebird babies that had recently hatched, 10 bluebird eggs that had yet to hatch and 31 tree swallow eggs (no swallow babies yet). Carolyn put a spritz of vanilla over all the babies to help keep insect pests away.

       The trail is sponsored by the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota. Carolyn and Dennis are keeping a spreadsheet of the weekly counts and will share it with BBRP.

       Thanks, Carolyn and Dennis, for the great work you’re doing to help nurture nature in the Mahtomedi area!

    Article reprinted from the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative. See the original article here.
    Photo by Rich Hoeg (Creative Commons via Flickr)
  • 04/23/2014 10:24 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
       The I-35E Cayuga construction project crews will be closing the Gateway State Trail at approximately 7 a.m. Friday, April 25. The trail needs to close for area excavation as part of the construction project, and is anticipated to remain closed through the duration of the project. The detour that was implemented last year will be posted again for this closure; trail users will be detoured to L’Orient Street, Maryland Avenue, Jackson Street and Cayuga Street.

       Also, the Gateway Trail bridge spanning I-35E is tentatively planned to be removed over the weekend of May 16. The new Arlington Avenue bridge is currently scheduled to open in advance on May 11, with the new section of the trail in place and available for users.
  • 04/12/2014 9:00 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    Combine your love of biking and hiking the Trail and nature watching. Join the new Gateway Trail Bluebird Recovery Group to help check houses along the trail from Pine Point Park to Jamaca Ave.

    We are looking for people who would enjoy weekly monitoring of a set of bluebird houses for the spring and summer months. Bird houses, training and materials will be provided. Because this is a commitment of weekly monitoring there will be a system of support when members go on vacation or need to miss their monitoring times.

    See the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota website  for more information. You are welcome to attend their Spring Expo Saturday , April 12. See the sign up on their web page. To join this project contact Carolyn Baird at
  • 10/14/2013 5:56 PM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    Here's an article recently published in the Star-Tribune, a nice counterpoint to much of what dominates today's headlines!

  • 09/28/2013 6:50 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    The groundbreaking ceremony for Brown's Creek Trail took place at 2:00pm on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

    Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Browns Creek trail connecting the Gateway Trail to Stillwater. The planned completion date, including a new bridge over Manning Avenue, is September 2014. Shown in the picture from left to right are Mike Pohlena, Stillwater Councilman and Washington County Parks Manager; Courtland Nelson, DNR Director of Parks and Trails; State Representative JoAnn Ward; Washington County Commissioner Gary Kreisel; Mayor Ken Harycki of Stillwater; John Oldendorf, President GBCTA; and Bob Hagstrom, Board member of the GBCTA , representing City of Grant at the ceremony.

    Courtland Nelson, DNR Director of Parks and Trails, says a few words about the trail and it's progress.

    Let the work begin!
  • 07/03/2013 7:53 PM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    We've just added a new page to our site describing the over 60 geocaches that exist on the trail. You can visit the new page here.
  • 07/01/2013 10:55 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    This is an article that ran in the Star Tribune on June 29, 2013. The original article can be viewed here.

    The trail will link Stillwater with the popular Gateway State Trail, which runs from St. Paul into northern Washington County. Browns Creek trail, which parallels a creek by the same name for some of the distance, follows a route that the Minnesota Zephyr dinner train used for 23 years.

    “Folks will see the trail quicker than most people expect,” said Kent Skaar, a state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) acquisition and development section leader. The Browns Creek trail, he said, affords a rare opportunity to build a complete trail all at once, unlike most state trails where segments must be purchased from private landowners over years of negotiations.

    “It would be nice to get it done sooner because there’s so much anticipation over it,” said Mike Polehna, who was one of three people to initiate the Gateway trail in 1980 when they saw potential in an old rail bed. Polehna, now a Stillwater City Council member, said he agrees that it makes sense to complete the Browns Creek trail all at once.

    The Legislature appropriated money this spring for a trail bridge over busy Manning Avenue, which state and county leaders considered a necessity to prevent accidents. It didn’t seem prudent to open a portion of the trail if pedestrians and cyclists couldn’t safety cross Manning, Skaar said.

    The trail bridge, at an estimated cost of $1.46 million, will resemble one built over Century Avenue in North St. Paul on the Gateway trail. The DNR will seek bids in late August for its construction and name a contractor in September. Construction will start in October, Skaar said.

    The Browns Creek project has been greeted with joy in Stillwater, a city that suddenly finds itself enriched with eventual trail connections. The trailhead at the former Zephyr depot on North Main Street will link with a proposed city trail that will follow an abandoned rail line south to the Lift Bridge. Once a new four-lane bridge at Oak Park Heights is completed in late 2016, a loop trail will be built to cross the Lift Bridge into St. Joseph Township on the Wisconsin side of the river, and return to Stillwater over the new bridge.

    The DNR and Washington County purchased the Zephyr land from owner David Paradeau for $4.25 million. The county contributed $1 million of that amount from voter-approved Land and Water Legacy funds.

    The Browns Creek trail has two existing bridges, including an old railroad bridge over Hwy. 95 in Stillwater. Repairs continue on those bridges to make them safe for pedestrians, Skaar said, with estimated completion by mid- or late September. Trail paving won’t begin until work on those bridges is completed, he said.

    “It’s still possible we’ll get paving in this fall but we’re butting up against a tight schedule,” he said.

    Some people are walking the trail already, but Skaar said the DNR discourages that. “The trail is under construction and as a result we advise folks to stay off that corridor,” he said.

    The Browns Creek trail won’t be open to snowmobiles. Horse riders will be able to follow a western portion of the trail but not into Stillwater.

    “The city was pretty insistent that riding horses in downtown Stillwater was inappropriate,” Skaar said.

    Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037
  • 06/14/2013 8:30 AM | GBCTA (Administrator)
    GBCTA Board members were on hand Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary. The Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary encompasses 42 acres of land, and will be the St. Paul's second-largest public reserve site. The Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary has been in the planning stages of development for 10 years, and will feature the Trout Brook Trail, which will connect with the Gateway Trail. The trail and nature preserve are expected to be open to the public sometime in 2015. Check out this map of the project, or this recent Pioneer Press article for more information.

    Board members Noreen Farrell, Bob Hagstrom and John
    Oldendorf (not pictured) attended the groundbreaking ceremony
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