Above the Falls Regional Park Master Plan update

This article was written by Melissa Winn

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) approved a plan in 2019 to acquire and develop park land along both sides of the Mississippi River between the Plymouth Avenue Bridge and the Camden Bridge. This includes 2.75 miles of the river itself within the 72-mile Mississippi River Regional Critical area. Roughly 64 acres of the 140 upland acres (45 percent) within the Above the Falls (ATF) Regional Park boundary is currently under MPRB ownership through fee title or easement. MPRB is also responsible for approximately 20 acres of the Upper Harbor Terminal development on the west side of the river. 

The Plan returns to the model championed by Horace Cleveland at the creation of the Minneapolis park system: to secure public access to natural amenities such as lakes and rivers by surrounding them with parks, and to allow economic development to evolve independent of, yet strengthened by, the amenities that parks create. In order to allow access to park developments, trails have been or will be created. 

The east bank trail extends the full length of the ATF region from Plymouth Avenue in the south to the Camden Bridge in the north. Due to the location of the Xcel plant, the trail runs adjacent to Marshall Street NE. The rest of the trail runs away from Marshall and toward the river. On the west side of the river, only about 2 of a possible 6.3 miles of multi-use trails exist. Trails are in place between Plymouth Avenue and the BNSF Rail corridor. In the Webber-Camden area, the trail is expected to eventually connect to North Mississippi Regional Park, Victory Memorial Drive, St. Anthony Parkway and the Anoka County Mississippi River Regional Trails.

One of the new parks currently in development is Graco Park on the east side of the river north of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge. It already has a section of the Mississippi East Bank trail as well as a gravel beach facing Hall’s Island and it will eventually improve the trail connections to Boom Island. 

Join the Above the Falls Community Advisory Committee the last Tuesday of every month to discuss projects and to get involved. Contact info@abovethefallsmpls.org for more information.