City plans trail work at Indian Mounds Regional Park

The City of St. Paul is planning to improve and alter trails at Indian Mounds Regional Park. Some trails will be removed out of cultural sensitivity due to their proximity to burial mounds. This project differs from the Cultural Landscape Study, a collaboration between the city and indigenous community that’s working to create a more culturally sensitive plan for the park. (courtesy of City of St. Paul)

The City of St. Paul plans to improve and adjust trails at Indian Mounds Regional Park.

The project, which is largely federally funded but managed by the city, will repave and realign some trails while removing others near culturally sensitive areas of the park, especially those near burial mounds.

A community meeting to update those who use the park was held May 14. City staffers Brett Hussong and Bianca Paz shared design plans and a timeline, while gathering community feedback. The meeting also kicked off a 30-day public review period required by the National Historic Preservation Act. The review time runs through June 13. 

This project is separate from the Cultural Landscape Study, which is a partnership between indigenous community members and the City of St. Paul working to find ways to create a more culturally sensitive park.

Indian Mounds, a Dakota cemetery, is sacred to the indigenous community. It ties in with a number of other sacred sites along the Mississippi River, including Wakan Tipi below the bluffs. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by the Field Archeology and Private Cemetery acts

The Cultural Landscape Study was put on hold in April, following a potential state cemetery designation of the park. Paz, the city staff member involved with the project, said the study will wait for the designation to be finalized, because it will establish specific cemetery boundaries that will be taken into consideration during the study. 


Repave, remove

The trail improvements are a part of the park’s master plan, which the city finalized in 2011, said Hussong. The city applied for federal funds soon after the master plan’s approval and began planning for the projcet a year ago.

The city will replace pavement on most trails, and in some spots, realign trails to meet federally designated design standards. 

Planners have been working with a number of consulting parties, included the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, the State Historical Preservation Office, and the Office of State Archeology to address areas of cultural significance.

While more in-depth work will be done through the Cultural Landscape Study, some of trails that are being removed are at spots where tribes and archaeological evidence identify burial areas, Hussong said. 

Areas where trails will be removed include a section between Plum and Cherry streets, between Mclean Avenue and Urban Place, and the trail close to the bluff between Urban and Clermont Street. The trail that runs between and behind the mounds near the pavillion will be removed and fencing will be adjusted to go around the mounds. 

Many of those trails have benches along them, which will remain unless the cultural study calls for their removal. While Hussong said he had considered rotating benches to face towards Mounds Boulevard, many at the May 14 meeting preferred leaving the benches as they are until the cultural study is finished. 

Towards the eastern end of the park, between Johnson Parkway and Highway 61, most of the trail will not only be repaved, but also realigned to reduce the slope and tight curves of the trail, making it safer for users. 

Near the Mounds Boulevard and Burr Street intersection, Hussong said the trail will be realigned and drain tile will be added to address chronic flooding.  

There’s about $2.5 million set aside for the project, which consists of about $1.43 million in federal funding and a little more than $1.11 million from the state Legacy Parks and Trails fund.  

Hussong said construction plans will be finalized later this summer, with work taking place in 2020. Planners are still seeking comments from the public and some trail changes are still under review by tribal authorities. 

For more information and to share comments, go to

Comments and questions can also be sent to Brett Hussong at or at 651-266-6414.

For more information about the Cultural Landscape Study, go to


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at

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