Indian Mounds and Overlook Loop

Indian Mounds Regional Park, Minnesota

Trip Date: Friday, December 15th, 2017
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 26th, 2017
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.5 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible Yes


Hike Walkthrough

While this isn't much of a hike, it is a destination in the Twin Cities that you shouldn't miss if you enjoy being outdoors. With scenic views and historic Native American burial mounds, there is plenty to see. The park's namesake mounds are somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 years old (so long ago that there were still pharaohs in Egypt) created by the Hopewellians and added to by the Dakota. After a short walk around the mounds, you can walk across the street to enjoy a picnic, play a game of tennis, or play on the playground.

Dogs are allowed on leash. This is a destination suited for people of all ages and ability levels. There is one accessibile parking spot in the lot, and the trails around the mounds are paved and flat. I visited on a cold Friday afternoon and unsurprisingly had the park to myself, so I'm not even going to try and pretend like I know how crowded the park gets on a summer weekend.

There's not much to the trail system here, it's a couple paved loops around the mounds. Go whatever way you please. There are a couple overlooks along the wall behind the mounds giving you the view of South St. Paul pictured below. The overlook is best in the late fall through early spring when the foliage doesn't obscure your view.

This overlook provides excellent views of South St. Paul

This overlook provides excellent views of South St. Paul
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Just past the mounds is another slice of history, the airway beacon. This tall metal tower was built in 1929 to aid pilots delivering airmail, marking the route between St. Paul and Chicago. GPS and electronic navigation systems eventually made the tower obsolete, and this is one of the few remaining beacons in the U.S., which still operates with a flashing, rotating light. Adjacent to the airway beacon is a bench with a commanding view of both Minneapolis and St. Paul, as pictured below.
From this bench you can see the skylines of both Minneapolis and St. Paul

From this bench you can see the skylines of both Minneapolis and St. Paul
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Simply follow the path back to the parking lot when you're done. Again, this isn't much of a hike, but the park has enough interesting attractions to make it a must visit for anyone in the Twin Cities. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!


By Bike
The off-street bike path along Mounds Boulevard runs through the park and connects to the bike lane on Johnson Parkway to the east and to the trail through Swede Hollow Park to the west.

By Bus
Metro Transit line 70 -- traveling between Highland Park through Downtown St. Paul, then through East St. Paul to the Sun Ray Shopping Center -- stops at the corner of Burns Avenue and Earl Street two blocks away. Walk south on Earl Street from the bus stop to reach the park.

By Car
From Downtown St. Paul, take Interstate 94 east and exit at Mounds Boulevard. Turn right at the light, then continue straight to stay on Mounds Boulevard. Drive past the first lot on the right side of the road with a sign for Indian Mounds Regional Park, and continue straight as the road bends to the left and heads uphill. You'll pass the mounds and a tall metal tower, then park in the lot on the right side after the stop sign.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! If the small lot is full, you can find street parking on Thorn Street by turning right out of the parking lot then turning left on Thorn. The bathroom facilities are located across the street from the lot, where there are also several picnic tables, shelters, and playgrounds.

External Links

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