Portion of riverfront lined by trails
The significance of the riverfront is limited if one cannot reliably get near it and easily travel along its length. As the map below shows, travel along the river is an easy task in the Lower Gorge, but in the Upper River, the riverfront trail system is quite discontinuous. Twice as much of the Lower Gorge is lined by trail, compared to the Upper River (see chart above).
But the news is not all bad for the Upper River. In 2016, we expect construction to be completed on extending the East Bank Trail and associated green space along the nearly mile-long segment of riverfront between Boom Island Park and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Bridge near 16th Ave NE, which will dramatically improve access in the Upper River.
Data sources and methodology: Based on a 2002 polygon shapefile of the Mississippi River from the Minnesota DNR, we isolated the length of the edge of the river on either side of the Mississippi River throughout Minneapolis as a polyline shapefile. Using a combination of aerial photography and knowledge of the river, we identified what we defined as “riverfront trails”. We define “riverfront trails” as those off-road riverfront trails designed for biking and walking that continued for at least one-third mile along the length of the riverfront without any gaps in the trail, other than an occasional road crossing. (Some parks, such as Marshall Terrace, Edgewater, and Gluek Park have trails, but run less than a third-mile along the length of the river, and do not readily connect to a larger trail system. These were intentionally excluded, because they are of more limited consequence to a larger riverfront travel experience.) The polyline shapefile of the river was divided into segments and tagged according to whether there were riverfront trails adjacent to that riverfront edge, using the definitions previously described. Up-to-date as of December 2015.