Shakopee hikes

Maxdihnn Theis writes about his favorite local hikes.

If you are in or around Shakopee and are looking for hikes to go on, there are plenty of options. Whether it’s a hike completely in nature on grass paths or a nice gentle walk between town parks, Shakopee has you covered. A few of the best hiking spots in Shakopee are the hike from Memorial Park to Huber Park, from Huber Park to downtown Chaska, the Minnesota Valley Trail hike, or exploring at Louisville Swamp.

Memorial to Huber

The first hike we will look at is the Memorial Park to Huber Park hike. Installed in April 2021, the new pedestrian bridge at Memorial Park allows walkers and bikers to enjoy a beautiful trail that weaves about 1.5 miles to Huber Park (3 miles round trip). If you are looking for an easy, level hike, this may be for you. This trail is perfect for bikers or hikers as the path can get a little rough at points making scootering, rollerblading, or other small wheel activities difficult. This “new” trail is an old trail that the city had ignored for years until the new bridge was put in and the path was cleaned up.

Along with the new bridge that was put in, the city had to improve a bridge already on the trail. Weaving through the trees near the Minnesota River is breathtaking and come fall will be even more beautiful. As for right now, the green is plenty gorgeous and worth a hike if you have not already.

If you are near Memorial Park, you get the chance to see beautiful wildflowers along the old mill pond. Also, you will get to see the birds racing across the water, catching bugs for their meals. Also, if you are lucky, you may get the chance to see a beaver. If not a beaver sighting, you will most certainly see remnants of beavers. With half-chewed or fully chewed trees, you can see that the beavers are extremely busy.

If you are near Huber Park, you will get the chance to see some of Shakopee’s remarkable history, an 1876 brickyard kiln. Owned and operated by Herman Schroeder, this kiln was known for making many of the red bricks you can see around downtown Shakopee.

Overall, this is one of the best hikes you will find in Shakopee. You get the beauty, you get to learn about the history of Shakopee, and you also have a chance to observe some wildlife. If the trail were paved enough for everyone to enjoy, it would be a five-star hike. With autumn right around the corner, this trail will only get more colorful.

Huber to Chaska

Another one of Shakopee’s great hikes is the Huber Park to downtown Chaska trail. This roughly paved trail is excellent for bikers and walkers/runners alike, with a one-way total of about 4.5 miles (9 miles round trip). Throughout this hike, you will get a chance to see some beautiful views of the Minnesota River and copious amounts of wildlife.

One interesting stop along the path is the old Shakopee brewery. Located just off the trail, you can look at the old brick building and read up on its history. The building itself is on private property. First opening in 1854, Herman Strunk owned and operated it until 1863, when Andrew Winker bought the brewery and took over production. For over 25 years, Winker owned the brewery before selling it to Hubert Nyssen, the longest owner of the brewery. In 1925 Nyssen sold the old brewery to a whiskey company, where it churned out whiskey until 1957 and has been abandoned ever since.

Throughout the hike, you may encounter pheasants, deer, birds, squirrels, butterflies, and so much more. A spicebush swallowtail (below) is one of the most common butterflies in Minnesota.

If you are planning to make the round trip, bring plenty of water and snacks as needed. A nine-mile hike can take over three hours, depending on your pace and how many times you stop. There are plenty of rest areas along the path, like benches and picnic tables, and downtown Chaska has plenty of outdoor seating.

MN Valley Trail

This next hike is a portion of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge trail. One end is the Wilkie unit in Shakopee, and two miles on the other is the Bloomington Ferry unit in Bloomington. Views of the Minnesota River, random wildlife, and so much more make this walk worth it. Once the road that connected these two cities, it is now a pleasant hike all can enjoy.

Starting on the Shakopee side, you get a better opportunity to see the old road, and the closer to Bloomington you get, the more it looks like a bike trail. Other than lovely scenery, the first thing you will across is the Highway 169 bridge and an excellent array of graffiti that wraps the piles (the verticle support structures of a bridge).

Once you pass under the highway, it is a nice smooth hike, occasionally getting gorgeous views of the river. When you are coming up on the Bloomington Ferry unit, you get a beautiful scene of a bridge endlessly going into a forest (right).

Of all the hikes, this one is the flattest. Although, still a round trip of four miles, this can be a hike that sneaks up on you, and you do not realize how tiring it was until after you are done. Remember to always bring water and snacks, even on a short hike.

Louisville Swamp

Compared to the other hikes in this article, Louisville Swamp offers the most distance and, I believe, is the most beautiful. The area has something for everyone, with the most extended loop being over 10 miles and the shortest two-and-a-half miles.

With all grass/dirt trails, this hike is best for walkers and allows for horse riding on some of the trails. However, along with horses, you have the chance to see a significant number of wild animals. Birds, turkeys, pheasants, deer, beavers, and the list goes on. But it is not just wildlife that you can see.

If you have a keen eye, you may discover an old rusted-out truck that has been there for decades. You also get the chance to see two 19th century farmsteads. The Ehmiller farmstead, built in 1885, has few bricks reminding us of what was once there. Jabs farm, constructed between 1860 and 1880, has several standing buildings still.

One always seems to stick out among the animals you will see, the bald-eagle. There always seems to be a good chance at a bald eagle sighting, as there is plenty of food options around. Hiding high in the trees, these beautiful birds then soar around the open waters looking for fish and the ground for rodents.

Something brand new added to the main trailhead is a two-room bathroom. While it is just my opinion, Louisville Swamp offers the most out of all the hikes mentioned in this column. You get to choose your distance much easier and also get to see beautiful nature and historic buildings.

All of these hikes are worth checking out, and soon it will start to get cooler, and going out for these adventures could be a fun time. With the cool air comes the leaf changes, and all of these hikes will become even more beautiful. If you cannot get out soon, I would encourage you to make plans for a fall hike at one of these destinations.

Maxdihnn Theis is an independent journalist, with six years of photography experience, living in Shakopee. His work can be found at maxjournalism.com.

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