Greater Grand Forks Greenway

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Greater Grand Forks Greenway
Memorial in the Greater Grand Forks Greenway commemorating the 1997 flood and other past floods
Type Public park
Location On the banks of the Red River and Red Lake River in Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota
Area 2,200 acres (9 km²)
Operated by City of Grand Forks, City of East Grand Forks, Grand Forks Park District, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Status Open year round

The Greater Grand Forks Greenway is a huge greenway bordering the Red River and Red Lake River in the twin cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota (commonly called Greater Grand Forks). At 2,200 acres (9 km²), the Greenway is more than twice the size of New York City's Central Park.[1] One of the most prominent features of the Greenway is the extensive, 20-mile (32 km) system of bike paths which are used by bikers, walkers, joggers, and rollerbladers.[2] In 2007, the system was designated as a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service.[3] There are several city parks and golf courses along the Greenway. Other amenities include wildlife observation areas, a campground, fishing areas, interpretive displays, wildflower gardens, and fields for various athletics including softball, basketball, and disc golf.

The Greenway was developed after the devastating Red River Flood of 1997. The land encompasses major portions of the two communities that used to sit in the floodplain. After the flood, several neighborhoods had to be removed to make way for a massive new dike system. The Greenway includes the lands that sit between these new dikes and the rivers. Today, the Greenway serves the dual purpose of holding back river waters during floods and providing recreational opportunities for metropolitan area residents throughout the year.

Trail heads[edit]

Floodwall in the Greenway directly north of downtown Grand Forks

A series of "trail heads" exist at various points along the Greenway. These trail heads offer breaks in the dikes or floodwalls so that pedestrians can access the Greenway. Most of these trail heads offer paved parking lots and many also offer public restroom facilities. Other amenities at select trail heads include picnic areas and playgrounds.

Grand Forks trail heads[edit]

(listed from north to south)

  • Riverside Rapids
  • Riverside Park
  • 8th Avenue North
  • 2nd Avenue North
  • Community Green (Downtown Grand Forks, adjacent to Town Square)
  • Kannowski Park (formerly Central Park)
  • Lincoln Drive Park
  • Lincoln Golf Course
  • Olson-Elmwood
  • Sunbeam Park
  • 47th Avenue South

East Grand Forks trail heads[edit]

(listed from north to south)

  • River Heights
  • Sherlock Park
  • Sherlock Park Campground
  • Rotary Park (Downtown East Grand Forks)
  • Griggs Park
  • Eagle Point
  • Crestwood

Sites within the Greenway[edit]

Grand Forks[edit]

A sign near the Olson/Elmwood access in Grand Forks


There are several designated park spaces in the Grand Forks portion of the Greenway. These parks are maintained by the Grand Forks Park District.

At the far north side of the Greenway sits Riverside Park. This is one of the oldest parks in the city of Grand Forks and is a focal point for the northern portion of the Greenway. The park features a playground, restrooms, several picnic sites and an outdoor pool. North of Riverside Park sits the Riverside Dam. This dam has been reconfigured since the flood of 1997 and now includes a waterfall called Riverside Rapids. The Riverside Rapids area also includes boat access to the Red River and a pedestrian walking bridge which connects the Grand Forks side of the Greenway to the East Grand Forks side.

Formerly called Central Park, Kannowski Park is located just south of Downtown Grand Forks and is also one of the oldest parks in the city. The small park features a playground, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park was recently renamed Kannowski Park in honor of Frances Kannowski, superintendent of the Grand Forks Park District from 1933 to 1953. Kannowski was the first female superintendent of a park district in the United States.[4]

Further south sits Lincoln Drive Park. This park is located on the grounds of the former Lincoln Drive neighborhood. The neighborhood was inundated during the 1997 flood and had to be almost entirely demolished. Lincoln Drive Park features a warming house which is rented out for private parties, large picnic facilities, playgrounds, a wildflower garden, historic displays about the neighborhood, and a disc golf course. Just south of Lincoln Drive Park is a steep stretch of the dike which is known as "the sledding hill." This "hill" is a popular site for sledding in the winter.

Golf course[edit]

Lincoln Golf Course sits along Belmont Road in the Greenway. The course, established in 1909, is the oldest golf courses in North Dakota.[5] Lincoln has many large, established trees. Formerly an 18-hole course, the construction of the dike system led to the redevelopment of Lincoln as a par 35, 9-hole course. A small clubhouse features a snack bar, pro shop, and restrooms. Just east of Lincoln Golf Course sits the Pat Owens pedestrian bridge. This bridge, named after the former mayor of Grand Forks who was mayor during the 1997 flood, connects to East Grand Forks, Minnesota.


Grand Cities Art Fest 2006 in downtown Grand Forks's Town Square

The portion of the Greenway that runs through Downtown Grand Forks is landscaped and carefully maintained (an irrigation system has recently been installed). A set of brick gateways and flags sit on both sides of DeMers Avenue and connect downtown to the Greenway.

The area south of the Sorlie Bridge (DeMers Avenue) features a monument that overlooks the Red River and shows the heights of past floods. A wide set of stairs and terraced levels of ground lead down to the monument. This area is also home to a labyrinth. The area north of the Sorlie Bridge includes another set of stairs leading down to the river. This area is referred to as the "Community Green" and features many trees and shrubs, a small gazebo, and parking.

The Grand Forks Town Square is located directly adjacent to the Greenway, at the corner of DeMers Avenue and Third Street. Town Square features an amphitheater and plays host to many events throughout the year including the Grand Cities Art Fest each June and the Farmers' Market during the summer months

East Grand Forks[edit]


There are three distinct parks within the East Grand Forks side of the Greenway. These include Sherlock Park near downtown East Grand Forks, Griggs Park near the "point" where the Red River and Red Lake River merge, and O'Leary Park on the banks of the Red Lake River in the southern part of the city. Sherlock Park includes the only city-owned pool in East Grand Forks as well as picnic facilities and a large playground; however, this playground was largely destroyed by a fire in the spring of 2011. Griggs Park includes school athletic fields and a boat ramp for access to the rivers. O'Leary Park is a heavily wooded park that sometimes attracts wildlife. The park also includes athletic fields, picnic facilities, and a playground.

Golf course[edit]

On the extreme north side of the Greenway sits the 18-hole Valley Golf Course. The construction of the flood control system resulted in a major reconfiguration of the golf course. The course also includes a club house with banquet facilities.


The Sorlie Bridge (DeMers Avenue) spans the Red River in the downtown area of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. On the Grand Forks side of the bridge sits Town Square and the Community Green. On the Minnesota side sits Rotary Park.

In East Grand Forks, the downtown portion of the flood control system is not made of earthen dikes. Instead, a flood wall is installed piece-by-piece during floods. This allows people in downtown East Grand Forks to have a direct view of the Red River. On the "dry side" of the flood wall sits an area called The Boardwalk. This brick path is lined with several restaurants and bars. On the "wet side" of the flood wall (in the Greenway) sits an area called Rotary Park which includes a fountain.


Located just north of downtown East Grand Forks is a campground. The campground is operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and is in a portion of the Greenway called the Red River State Recreation Area. The campground features 48 camp sites with water, electric, and sewer hookups and 36 camp sites without hookups.[6] The campground sits directly west of Sherlock Park in an area once known as the Sherlock Park neighborhood. This neighborhood was inundated during the Red River Flood of 1997 and all homes and other structures in the neighborhood were demolished.


Four agencies are involved in the management of the Greenway.[7] On the Grand Forks side, the city of Grand Forks owns all land within the Greenway. The Grand Forks Park District is responsible for managing and maintaining four park areas including Lincoln Golf Course, Riverside Park, Kannowski Park (formerly Central Park), and Lincoln Drive Park. On the East Grand Forks side, the city of East Grand Forks owns a 200-acre (0.81 km2) section of the Greenway in the downtown area. All other land on the East Grand Forks side is owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) section is called the Red River State Recreation Area.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°55′34″N 97°01′41″W / 47.92611°N 97.02806°W / 47.92611; -97.02806