Restoration of a century-old trail up the steep bluff from Spring Lake Park in North Mankato is nearly complete.
Public Works Director Nate Host said a contractor finished installing a new retaining wall near the top of the trail, which comes out near Bluff Park.
“The wall is done and we’re getting the paver lined up,” he said. About two-thirds of the lower portion of the trail was given fresh pavement earlier this year and Host said it won’t be long before the rest is resurfaced.
An old retaining wall made of railroad ties was deteriorated and sagging. “This one is retainer-wall blocks and all tied together,” Host said.f
Contractors dug out soil behind the old wall and put clean fill behind the new wall to help in drainage. There is a storm sewer along the trail that takes water in from behind the wall.
“And we put some rip-rap above the wall to protect the hillside better,” Host said.
The trail is unknown to many people, starting on Lake Street across from Spring Lake Park and coming out on Mary Lane in upper North Mankato near Bluff Park.
It has no official name but has commonly been known as Mary Lane Trail. Some also referred to it as Stevens Hill after a family living by the trail.
City Administrator John Harrenstein said it’s been a goal for the city for about five years to restore the trail.
Host said the trail has gotten renewed interest since restoration began this spring. “Once the bottom half was paved, it’s been getting a lot of use.”
Tom Hagen, who has lived next to the trail for 50 years, told The Free Press this spring that it’s been around for about a century.
“It’s been there since the ‘20s. There used to be a house up there. An old guy used the trail to get to and from his house,” he said.
There was also a gazebo half-way up the trail that was removed by the city years ago.
Bruce Waletich has lived in the house atop the bluff where the trail comes out since 1990. He said this spring that the trail has been mostly unused in recent years since the city closed it because of deteriorating conditions.
Harrenstein said that when the city did its Brewing Ideas events a few years ago, in which residents were invited to drop into the Mankato Brewery for public input sessions, improving the trail was often brought up.