Planning begins for trail from Hugo to Marine on St. Croix. Where should it run?

posted in: Society | 0

Washington County officials are seeking input on plans on a new northern regional trail that will connect Hardwood Creek Regional Trail, Big Marine Park Reserve, William O’Brien State Park and downtown Marine on St. Croix.

Plans call for the multi-use east-west trail — called the Glacial Hills Regional Trail — to run about 12 miles, from Hugo to Marine on St. Croix, and connect to the planned Gateway State Trail extension, said Connor Schaefer, senior planner for Washington County.

County parks officials will share proposed route alignment options and visuals at an in-person open house from 4 to 6 p.m. June 17 at Marine on St. Croix Village Hall; there will be no formal presentation.

A map shows the search corridor for the Glacial Hills Regional Trail in northern Washington County. The future trail will eventually connect Hardwood Creek Regional Trail, Big Marine Park Reserve and William O’Brien State Park. (Courtesy of Washington County)

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also will be in attendance to share the progress of the Gateway State Trail extension and listen to feedback about alignments and future community connections.

After the open house, materials from the event will be available on the Glacial Hills Regional Trail’s project website, where people can leave comments from June 17 to June 30.

Plans for the trail are in the beginning stages, and there is no opening date or cost estimate yet, Schaefer said. He said he expects the trail to be paid for through a mix of federal, state and county funds.

Gateway Trail extension

Plans for a new three-mile extension of the Gateway Trail got a major boost last year when the project received $2.68 million in Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources funding.

The Gateway Trail currently runs 19 miles — from St. Paul to Pine Point Park in Stillwater Township — and attracts an estimated 125,000 users a year.

The new funding will cover one mile of trail extension from downtown Scandia — the trailhead will be located behind Meister’s Bar and Grill — to Oakhill Road, where there will be a tunnel going under Oakhill, said Rachel Henzen, parks and trails area supervisor for the Minnesota DNR. The money also will cover a realignment of Oakhill Road to accommodate the new tunnel, she said.

Henzen and other DNR officials are still working on finalizing design plans, and date of completion has yet to be determined.

The DNR has purchased the land rights to build the trail from William O’Brien State Park to Scandia. Eventually, the Gateway Trail will connect Pine Point Regional Park and William O’Brien, but the land for that section has not yet been purchased, Henzen said.

“We are working with the local units of government to determine route through William O’Brien and south of William O’Brien State Park,” Henzen said. “That’s a work in progress.”

Eventually, the Gateway State Trail extension and the Glacial Hills Regional Trail will cross, Henzen said, and state and county officials are working to determine that connection.

Users will one day be able to take a trail from St. Paul to Scandia and/or Marine on St. Croix, Henzen said. “There’s going to be some pretty amazing opportunities in that area with bike trails definitely,” she said.

Related Articles

Outdoors |

Washington County officials cancel alert for missing, vulnerable woman

Outdoors |

Power restored to Stillwater Lift Bridge after nearly 6-hour outage

Outdoors |

Lake Elmo Avenue and Minnesota 36 to get ‘significant safety improvement’ in 2027

Outdoors |

Minnesota man sentenced for soliciting minor to have sex with dog

Outdoors |

Former Forest Lake man severely burned in charging station explosion

Glacial Hills and Gateway Extension information

Glacial Hills Regional Trail: Project updates will be posted on the county’s website at For more information about the trail, contact Connor Schaefer at  651-430-4303 or

Gateway Extension: Questions can be forwarded to Nathan Moe at 651-259-5601 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.