New Stillwater Bridge Open at Last
That new bridge over the St. Croix is really something. I biked across it soon after it opened, and many, many people were walking and biking across too. After all these years of waiting, and difficulties biking through downtown Stillwater and then sometimes struggling to bike across the old bridge through heavy traffic, deliverance has finally arrived, making things much safer for biking across the river.
The sidewalk is along the north side, 12 feet wide, nicely paved, with 3 overlook platforms. It’s a constant grade uphill from MN to the WI side. Hwy 95 passes under the bridge on our side, and that's where you need to get on the trail -- on the northeast corner of 95 and 36. There are stop lights and buttons you can press to help cross. So how do you get there via bike? One way is going north or south along 95 -- there is a trail on the east side. Another way, the way I went, is heading east from Osgood (County 24) and 36, you stay on the south frontage road (59th) past a Holiday station. After you pass Penrose Ave, there is an unmarked bike trail going east (left) and down to Hwy. 95. Cross it going east at the light, take the trail along 95 to the north to another light, and that's where the trail starts. I would suggest not taking frontage roads on the north side of 36.
It's exactly one mile to Wisconsin, where the trail passes under Hwy 35, but the trail doesn't connect with it — there is a steep bank up to 35. The trail continues northeast along what is now WI 64, and passes through a tunnel under the new County Road E — another steep bank. Suddenly the pavement stops after the tunnel and you are faced with about 100 yards of gravel, so be prepared and be careful. Then you hit old County E, turn left, pass the Houghton School, turn left again (unmarked corner), and get to the new E, which you can take to the east through two roundabouts. So the trail is 2.0 miles long, and it has no junctions or intersections -- you need to go all the way to either end. From the WI side, you could park at the Houghton School to walk or bike the trail.
Other thoughts: What a view of the valley! Coming from the WI side, it’s a long continuous coast downhill. Keep watching to maneuver around other trail users. No more waiting for the Lift Bridge anymore….
Hopefully in the near future: signs pointing bikers to the new bridge, and paving of that gravel segment.
By Doug Nelson