The big cottonwood tree over 9 Mile Creek is now ready for your skinny riding pleasure


My Aug. 23 blog post about the MN River Bottoms Trail included a mention of the big cottonwood tree that had recently fallen across 9 Mile Creek, providing a bridge across. Someone had created a walkway on a portion of it to make it easier to cross.

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Yesterday, I noticed that the tangle of branches on the east side of the bank (left photo from Aug) has been cleared away, with a small ramp constructed (center photo) to make it easier to ride your bike up onto the log when riding across it east to west. And on the west side, the splintered trunk of the tree has been trimmed back (right photo), making it easier to negotiate the sharp turn when riding across west to east.

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I rode across it both directions a couple of times and noticed that big chunks of bark on the west end of the log were starting to come loose.  So I peeled off some of the bark (left photo), only to discover that there was considerable moisture and sap underneath, making it slippery as gorilla snot. I rubbed dirt on it, which helped a bit but not quite enough to prevent the wheel from slipping (center photo). I’m guessing it should be fine in a day or two, though.

A mountain biker named Brian Smith took a 17-second video of me crossing the log east to west:


I didn’t make it up the dirt bank on that run but did get up it the other two times.

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However, it’s much trickier riding the log west to east because of the drop down the bank prior to making the right turn on top where there’s a crevice in the tree trunk that can grab your front wheel about the same time your rear wheel is hitting the beveled right edge of the trunk.

Brian also took some photos of me riding the log west to east. Here are three:

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Fun stuff. Props to the volunteers who’ve whipped this log into shape for the rest of us.

Update Nov. 11:  I used my smartphone camera to record this 19-second video of me riding back and forth across the tree yesterday. Unfortunately, I dabbed and didn’t have time for a redo.


Update Dec. 2: Here’s a POV video of Heath Weisbrod riding the log on a fat bike:



  1. Clay said:

    At first, looking at the pictures, I thought, no way I’d chance falling in the creek on that skinny. But the video gives great perspective to how wide the tree and platform is…so now maybe I would. But honestly, I didn’t enjoy my river bottom ride last fall enough to justify making another trip up there. What MAMB is doing with the riverbottom land down here in Mankato and St. Peter will be much more fun I think. The trail that’s already established in St. Peter’s river bottoms rides like a pump track in a lot of areas.

    September 8, 2013
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Clay, you’re absolutely right. It is wide. Plus, if you don’t make it, the ground is soft and the water warm!

    Most sections of the current MN river bottoms trails that run near the edge of the river banks aren’t at all what one would consider to be a ‘flow’ trail. And since the July flooding, many of the technical obstacles that I like have been destroyed. So it’s a different kind of ‘fun’ there now.

    PS: I’ve added 3 more photos to the bottom of the blog post that were just sent to me.

    September 8, 2013
  3. Chad Sparks said:

    Way to go Griff!

    September 9, 2013
  4. yeti said:

    How’s the sand from all the flooding? It was very difficult to ride even a mtb last time (long time) I was there.

    September 9, 2013
  5. Doug said:

    Weird… I’ve always thought the River Bottoms rides exactly like what we rode at St. Peter Clay. Did you ride the entire thing, or just a certain section? Some are better than others and it’s a big area. Fat biking there last winter was probably my favorite of all the metro trails.

    September 11, 2013
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Yeti, the sand makes for tough riding for non-fat bikes between Cedar and 35W. But between 35W and the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, there are just a few small sandy spots. That segment is generally smooth/fast right now.

    September 12, 2013
  7. Griff Wigley said:


    When you guys refer to the trails near St. Peter, are you referring to those at Seven Mike Creek Park or somewhere else?

    September 12, 2013
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added a POV video to the blog post of Heath Weisbrod riding the log on a fat bike.

    December 2, 2013

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