Conservation MN - East Metro Region: Three things to do before summer ends 

Julie Drennen, East Metro Regional Manager – Conservation Minnesota

In Minnesota, summer always seems to come too late and never last nearly long enough. Here we sit, once again, with Labor Day just around the corner. 

It would be easy to use this as an excuse to go looking for that box of sweaters in the back of the closet or start shopping for pumpkin spice coffee creamers, but there will be plenty of time for that later.

This is the time when you should grasp this opportunity by the horns and make a plan to get out and enjoy the final few weeks of summer. To that end, if you’re looking for any last minute ideas for how to get the most out of summer, here are my top three.    

In the east metro, we are blessed with a really great system of bike trails. One of the hidden gems in this system is the Gateway Trail.

Starting a mile northeast of the State Capitol in St. Paul, this trail runs eighteen miles through Lake Elmo, Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale over to Pine Point County Park which is a few miles northwest of Stillwater. The trail is generally at a level grade and is great for biking, hiking or inline skating. At the fifteen-mile marker at the east end of the trail, there is even a place where you can rent bikes and, on weekends, get food from a food truck.  

To get a bit further off the beaten path, the Lake Elmo Park Reserve is a 2,165-acre plot of land set aside to resemble what our state looked like when settlers first arrived here in the early 1800s. An abundance of wildlife can be spotted while hiking the preserve’s trails, and the preserve offers a series of naturalist talks around the campfire on summer weekends and yoga classes of both the traditional and the stand-up paddleboard variety. 

If going for a paddle interests you, but you’re not sure you want to add yoga to the mix, then check out Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes. A part of the 5,500-acre Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park, the Wargo Nature Center rents canoes and kayaks by the hour or the full day. You can start your day on the center’s George Watch Lake, and, depending on water levels, potentially make your way through the entire Rice Creek chain.  

The reason we stay in a place where winters are too long and summers are too short is because of how many great opportunities there are to enjoy this state in all of its seasons. Soon the kids will be back to school and the leaves will start to change.  Before that happens, make sure you savor your summer while it lasts. 


Conservation Minnesota is a nonpartisan organization working to protect the Minnesota you love. With a network of over 75,000 Minnesotans statewide, Conservation Minnesota’s unique approach starts by asking Minnesotans which conservation issues are most important to solve.  For more information, check out

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