The Lake Nokomis Loop Short


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 takes you to a beautiful waterfall and a great seafood restaurant with an inviting patio and a line snaking 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. A traffic roundabout. Here for at least 10 years but still freaking drivers out. There are clearly marked pedestrian crosswalks some drivers never manage to see even if you shout, “Nice stop idiot!” When you cross here I’d recommend looking carefully. Try waving your arms up and down. Make a spectacle of yourself 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 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 a slight hill—the mustache 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. Then you have to. It’s the only path they clear. For the rest of the year, run across the bridge and take the path beside 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 emerge from under 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. Pay attention to the water. If it’s low, start to worry: Aren’t we getting enough rain? If it’s high, wonder why: Is the path up ahead flooded?

About a mile later, you’ll climb a short steep hill and cross a busy street. There’s a crosswalk and most drivers will stop if they’re looking, but often they aren’t.

Now you’re running at the edge of Lake Hiawatha. A beautiful park housing a lake with high counts of e-coli. Nice to look at, but not to swim in. Before curving left and crossing a small bridge call out “hello!” to Urika, my kids’ 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 pointed it out, my husband Scott didn’t realize this was a hill. He was so wrong. Since the hill takes a few minutes, you 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 arrived! Lake Nokomis. Well, almost, You’re at the park building just above. Go behind it, either to the left or the right, and run down a hill to the lake. Admire the sparkling water and check if any paddle boarders are out there doing yoga.

Turn around and return how you came, reversing your course for more of the same:

A boarder who’s chill.
An unnoticed hill.
A lake that is ill.
Drivers who won’t look
or maybe they will?
A beautiful creek often high, sometimes low
A fun little bridge where you shout “ECHO!”
A grove of oak trees with a soft yellow glow
A part of the path shut down 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 quick, steady flow.