Nestled amongst rolling hills and farms in northern Carver County, Watertown wraps itself around the south fork of the Crow River. That location provides ample opportunities for beautiful parks and trails throughout the city.
The longest trail through town is the 63-mile Luce Line State Trail, spanning countryside from Plymouth west to Cosmos. Once the snow flies, you’ll no doubt see plenty of snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. In the warmer months, the path hosts bicycles, horseback riders, and lots of foot traffic.
The boardwalk provides a scenic stroll along the river through downtown Watertown. There are many shops and restaurants and even a walk-up window for Italian Ice, perfect on days when the temperatures soar. Continuing to the east, you’ll find yourself in Rick Johnson Park, a favorite fishing hole for many locals.
Also located in downtown, Pocket Park is a small, mostly shaded area along the Luce Line Trail. This small grassy expanse is tucked back into a quiet wooded space with picnic tables and benches. There are equine pens where you can rest your horse along your journey. Occasionally you can catch Sheriffs or Mounted Police taking a break there with their horses.
A quick walk over the bridge on the trail puts you on the other side of the Crow River and into Old Mill Park. The lush green and huge old trees look like something out of a movie. In spring and summer, you’ll see flowers and shrubs along the path and most likely a few fishermen trying their luck at the river’s edge. The platform and seating area is a nice spot to pause and watch the water flow by.
In July the city hosts the Rails to Trails Festival. In addition to the parade, live music, and great food you find at most Minnesota festivals, there’s also a 5K race. The course winds through downtown and the hillside residential area, and continues down to Riverpointe Park. This scenic path winds along the river and a pond where many locals congregate in summer months to swim and fish. The race ends off the Luce Line Trail in the welcome shade of Pocket Park.
“Enjoy everything the friendly small town has to offer”
When late summer turns to autumn, Watertown is one of the most picturesque cities in Carver County. Be sure to plan a full day to visit and take a leisurely hike or bike out to the Luce Line Orchard. Along the way you’ll pass fields of horses and certainly some birds hiding in the colorful trees lining the trail.
If you happen to head to the city in early December, make sure to catch the tree-lighting ceremony in City Center Park. In the morning you can shop at the Christmas bazaar, or visit with Santa for a picture. In the afternoon you can catch old-fashioned caroling and the lighting of the city’s tree. Bring your own cocoa or get some local.
No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll surely enjoy everything the friendly small town has to offer. Watertown, the heart of the Luce Line Trail.
Roxanne is a freelance writer, fiber artist, and thirty year survivor of the hospitality and tourism industry. She is also a Commissioner on the Economic Development Authority in Watertown, MN.