Walk & Talks are the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s small-group guided tours led – or curated – by local parks experts and enthusiasts.
New Monthly Self-Guides for Summer 2021!
This summer, we’re introducing a new self-guided Walk & Talk every month, starting in May with the most exciting new destination in Minneapolis parks: Water Works at Mill Ruins Park. This fresh take on Walk & Talks continues with June’s Minnehaha Creek (35W to Lake Nokomis) Self-Guided Tour, and our newest, featuring Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Easy to moderate, mostly natural trail with some steps and unpaved climb
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Check daily Garden hours on its Minneapolis Parks page; seasonally, the Garden is open April-October
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1907 by its namesake and other local schoolteachers, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is one of Minneapolis’s botanical treasures. This self-guided tour, written by Garden curator Susan Wilkins, wends its way through the 15-acre Garden’s collection of over 600 native plant species, displayed in a variety of habitats which support a wide array of birds, insects, and other wildlife.
ABOUT OUR CONTENT PARTNER: Susan Wilkins has served as the Garden’s curator for 18 years, overseeing the plant collections, education program, visitor services, Garden staff, volunteer programs and partnerships. She studied Environmental Horticulture at the University of Minnesota, with an emphasis on restoration ecology and garden design.
DOWNLOAD (pdf): Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Walk & Talk Self-Guide
ONLINE (external link): StoryMap: A Summer Stroll Through Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden (with bonus stops and photos!)
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate 3.5-mile roundtrip on mostly paved trail
GOOD TO KNOW: Park in one of the bays on Minnehaha Parkway (or arrive by foot or bike); this stretch is east bound only and is accessed via the parkway traveling east or from northbound 2nd Ave S.
DESCRIPTION: The Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail area has a long history as part of the lands of the Dakota, followed by industrial and recreational use tied to the development of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This self-guided tour starts just east of I-35W and goes to Lake Nokomis; along the way, you’ll take a look at the past, present, and future of this storied waterway that receives more than 1.3 million visits annually.
ABOUT OUR CONTENT PARTNER: Sarah Evenson is a landscape architect with HKGi. She worked on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s 2020 Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail master plan. Within this download-and-go self-guided tour, Evenson highlights notable parkway facts at each stop.
DOWNLOAD (pdf): Minnehaha Creek – 35W to Lake Nokomis Self-Guided Tour
ONLINE (external link): StoryMap: Minnehaha Creek – 35W to Lake Nokomis Self-Guided Tour
ACTIVITY LEVEL: ADA accessible half-mile meander with some sloping sidewalks and/or stairs.
GOOD TO KNOW: This tour starts at the Mill Ruins Park parking lot, which has hourly parking. There is additional on- and off-street parking in the Central Riverfront/Mill District area. You can also reach the park by the city’s bike trails.
DESCRIPTION: Water Works is a complex site with multiple levels, trail connections, and programmed features, all layered with historical, contemporary, and natural elements that are designed to help us tell our shared stories, old and new.
DOWNLOAD: Water Works at Mill Ruins Park Tour (pdf)
ONLINE: Water Works StoryMap (external link)
Thank You to Our 2021 Sponsors
MPR News and Sunsett by Monicat Data
Become a Walk & Talks Sponsor!
Contact Jennifer Downham,
More to Explore: 2020 Self-Guided Walk & Talks
ACTIVITY LEVEL: 2 mile loop on sidewalks and paved trail with flights of stairs.
GOOD TO KNOW: This tour starts and ends at the Nicollet Island Parking Lot, where there is hourly parking.
DESCRIPTION: Explore the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park and showcase some of the most visionary parks-building efforts in generations. Sights you’ll see include Nicollet Island, the Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls, and the Water Works park project.
DOWNLOAD: RiverFirst: Central Riverfront Tour Guide (pdf)
ONLINE: NEW! RiverFirst StoryMap (external link)
ACTIVITY LEVEL: 2 miles round trip. Trail is unpaved and uneven and has some climb.
GOOD TO KNOW: Tour begins at W. River Parkway between Lake St. and 32nd. There is on-street parking nearby. Look for an unmarked trailhead off of the street-level walking path. You will head north on the trail and return either by retracing your steps or via the paved walking path.
DESCRIPTION: For as long as people have lived this area, there’s likely been a trail running along the Mississippi River from Saint Anthony Falls the convergence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. This tour covers the northern half of what is today called the Winchell Trail.
DOWNLOAD: Winchell Trail Tour Guide (pdf)
Highlights from Past Walk & Talks
From Shingle Creek to the Winchell Trail, past Walk & Talk tours have brought together Minneapolis Parks lovers interested in exploring more about our parks. Take a look at this photo gallery to see some highlights from past events.
We’re developing further plans for Walk & Talks in 2021 and beyond. To stay in-the-know, make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter.
To suggest a topic or speaker for a future Walk & Talk – please contact: