ST. CLOUD - When you hear of "must see" destinations to visit in St. Cloud, the common suggestions usually include The Munsinger Gardens, downtown bars and shops, Lake George, Vals or the Crossroads Shopping Center.

Why is it that the Beaver Island Trail isn't always included?

Beaver Island Trail - Google Maps
Beaver Island Trail - Google Maps

I moved to St. Cloud a little over five years ago to start classes at St. Cloud State University. I quickly fell in love with the campus and shortly after that, I also fell in love with the Beaver Island Trail.

The trail follows along the Mississippi River from 1st Ave. S. at University Dr. S. and Montrose Rd. at Clearwater Rd. joining with a bike route that leads to downtown.

It's an easy area to fall in love with: the trail takes you right next to the Mississippi River and provides an unbeatable path for walking, running, biking, inline skating and cross country skiing with beautiful changing scenery all year long. The numerous trees provide a can't-miss photo opportunity in the fall when the leaves change color. The views of the river, the islands it holds and nature in the area are stunning. There's also plenty of areas to fish if that appeals to you.

During my time at SCSU, I was disappointed by how few of my classmates used or even knew of the trail that was practically in their back yard.The Beaver Island trail is great for anyone to visit, but it's especially perfect for any SCSU student wanting to take a short trip away from campus to exercise, or relax and enjoy the view.

To this day, I've noticed many others in the community don't know the trail even exists in town when I bring it up in conversation.

The city started a $6.2 million project in the spring to expand the trail and it's expected to be finished by summer 2016. The expansion will provide more areas to get even closer to the river.

I'm hoping the project brings more attention to the beauty of both the Beaver Island Trail and the Mississippi River to more people in our community.

If you're looking for a great place to check out and explore, take a quick trip to the Beaver Island trail, it wont cost you a cent and it shows off some great can't miss pieces of St. Cloud.