Anyone who follows the Pig’s Eye Park Friends site on Facebook knows that some dedicated environmentalists — including former St. Paul City Councilmembers Tom Dimond and Kiki Sonnen — are keen to alert the public that Pig’s Eye, located at 2165 Pig’s Eye Lake Road, is a city-owned and, therefore, public park.
And it’s a special place, if somewhat hard to find. As the city notes on its recently improved web page about the park, Pig’s Eye features a 500-acre lake, hiking trails and bird watching areas. Some call it the city’s best-kept secret, especially for bird watching.
“It’s the biggest park in St. Paul, and nobody knows about it,” said the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in 2017.
That may soon be changing. Thanks to the efforts of Ward 7 City Councilmember Jane Prince and Pig’s Eye Park Friends, an application for a city-funded STAR Program grant has been submitted to improve the park’s entrance.
(See the bottom of this post for information on how you can voice support for the STAR Program funds, which the Friends of the Parks and Trails board endorses. Feedback is due by Friday, August 25.)
More about Pig’s Eye Park Friends
Friends of the Parks and Trails board member and full-time parks volunteer Kathy Sidles contributes many of the photos and updates on the Pig’s Eye Park Friends Facebook site, usually taken during the group’s twice-weekly public tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.
Sidles warns that the current entrance can be unsafe for drivers with all the truck traffic and bumpy, unpaved, often slippery or muddy roads.
“People might think it’s just another walk in a safe city park,” says Sidles, who visits the park regularly to photograph the plethora of birds and bees but also to monitor environmental encroachment. She urges visitors to be careful about bringing small children to Pig’s Eye Park given “all the truck traffic and the absence of park signs” and the prevalence of ticks.
Given that the park itself is often deserted and the lack of upkeep makes for unsteady footing, Sidles tries to visit Pig’s Eye “when others are there, and I always tell people what trail I’m going down.”
How to enter Pig’s Eye Park
From the East: From the Great River Road/Highway 61, take Warner Road past the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regional headquarters/Fish Hatchery. After you cross the bridge over the railroad tracks take the first exit on your right; it is a U-turn onto Childs Road. Go two blocks and turn left onto Pig’s Eye Lake Road. Follow the road past CPKC Rail. The forest on your left is the park, and continue to the wood chipper. Enter the second or third entrance and go to your right; a driveway will take you to where you can park and access a park trail. At the third and preferred entrance is a homemade park sign; this entrance sometimes is locked, which requires use of the second entrance. If you get to the gate for the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (wastewater treatment) plant, just turn around and see the park entrance. You can park along the road and walk in if you prefer.
From the West: Take Shepard/Warner Road east from downtown. Go under the Lafayette Bridge, take the first exit on your right to Childs Road, go one block, then take a left onto Pig’s Eye Lake Road. Follow the same instructions as above.
South Entrance: Take the Great River Road/Highway 61 south to Maxwell Avenue. Turn right on Red Rock Road. The park includes much of Eagle Lake on right and all of Pig’s Eye Lake at the north end of the road. Park along the north end of the road. The Mississippi River Trail connects to Red Rock Road at Maxwell Avenue.
North Entrance: At Warner Road one block west of the Great River Road/Highway 61, turn into Fish Hatchery Road. Turn into the first parking area on the left or park along the road. The Minnesota DNR regional headquarters/Fish Hatchery is located next to the park, and the Sam Morgan/Mississippi River Trail connects here.
Support an improved Pig’s Eye Park entrance
If you’re unfamiliar with Pig’s Eye Park, take a few minutes to view Wolfie Browender’s story and photos from last November in his blog, Saint Paul By Bike: Every Block of Every Street. Wolfie, a retired journalist, is a volunteer photographer for Friends of the Parks and Trails.
Then voice support for city funding to improve the entrance to this amenity. Email a letter of support by Friday, August 25, 2023 to STAR Grant Administrator Erin Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Send a copy to Parks & Recreation designer Brett Hussong at email@example.com.
- Send a copy to Ward 7 Councilmember Jane Prince at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about advocacy or the twice-weekly public tours, contact Tom Dimond at 952-207-6923 or Kiki Sonnen at 651-331-9560.