The Lake Nokomis Loop Short

8 MILES

Mississippi River road path south/
Minnehaha Falls/
Minnehaha Creek Path/
Lake Nokomis/
Minnehaha Creek Path/ Mississippi River road path north

If you go south on the river road path,
it will take you to a beautiful waterfall,
and a great seafood restaurant with an inviting patio
and a line that snakes through the park.
The waiting time for a table? An hour or so.
That’s okay,
you won’t be stopping there anyway,
at least not while you’re running.

The next part of the route can be tricky
especially when clueless drivers are around
which is all the time.
It’s a traffic roundabout,
which has been here for at least 10 years
but still freaks some drivers out.
There are clearly marked pedestrian crosswalks
which some drivers never manage to see
even if you shout,
“Nice stop idiot!”
When you cross here
I’d recommend looking
very
carefully.
You could also try waving your arms
up and down
as you enter the crosswalk
making a spectacle of yourself
that any driver is sure to notice.
You may look stupid,
but you won’t get hit.

Continue up the hill,
past the Dairy Queen 
that won’t tempt you
because it’s that DQ
the one that they annoyingly renovated
a year or two
ago, removing its charm
for the sake of convenience.
But convenience for whom? Not this customer!

Immediately before reaching the small bridge at the top of the hill—
the moustache bridge,
whose namesake,
a spray-painted hipster handlebar,
has long since been removed—
you’ll see a path leading down,
next to a fence and the light rail tracks.
Don’t take it.
Unless it’s winter and then you have to
because that’s the only path that they clear.
For the rest of the year,
run across the bridge
and take the path that gently follows the creek.

Such a pretty path!
Especially in the fall
when the small grove of trees,
close to where the ducks and geese all
congregate, glows yellow.
Follow this path over the duck bridge
and then under the echo bridge,
making sure to yell out “ECHO ECHO” as you run.
Then, as you emerge from the bridge
and into the sun,
watch out for speedy bikers,
coming down the hill too fast
and drooping branches from the weeping willow tree.

Run alongside Minnehaha creek,
taking note of the water.
If the water is low, wonder why:
Aren’t we getting enough rain?
If it’s high,
start to worry:
Is the path up ahead flooded?

About a mile later,
you’ll climb a very short, but steep, hill
and have to cross a busy street.
There’s a crosswalk
and most drivers you meet
will stop.
That is, if they see you,
which they often don’t.

Now you’re running at the edge of Lake Hiawatha
A beautiful park
with a lake that often has high counts of e-coli.
Nice to look at it, but not to swim in.
Before curving to the left and crossing a small bridge
call out “hi!”
to Urika,
my kids’ all time favorite summer camp counselor.
You’re probably too far from the park building to be heard,
but she’s most likely not there right now
so she wouldn’t hear you anyway.

You’ve reached another hill
and as you struggle to run up it
because it’s long
and a bit steep,
consider this story: 
before I incredulously pointed it out,
Scott didn’t realize this was a hill.
He was so wrong.

Since the hill takes a few minutes,
you’ll have time to ponder
how he could have missed these
painfully obvious facts:
You’re running up a big hill.
Right now.
And it’s hard.
You’re breathing is shrill.
And you want to be at the top.
I guess he wasn’t paying attention.

You’ve reached it! Lake Nokomis.
Well, almost,
You’re at the park building.
Go behind it, either to the left or the right,
and run down a hill
to reach
the lake.
Gaze out on the water,
sparkling in the sun and
check by the little beach
to see if the paddle boarders
are doing yoga.

Turn around
and return how you came,
reversing your course
for more of the same:
A paddle boarder who’s chill.
An unnoticed hill.
A lake that is ill.
Drivers who won’t see you, or maybe they will?
A beautiful creek that is high, or is it low?
A fun little bridge where you shout “ECHO!”
A grove of trees with a yellow glow
A part of the path that is closed in the snow.
A crappy DQ, where you’ll never go.
Another crosswalk where the drivers don’t slow
A seafood restaurant, the best that you know.
And water that falls in a steady flow.