Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary

At a Glance

At the place where the famed Swede Hollow opens up again and Phalen Creek takes the last stuttering steps of its journey to the Mississippi River, sits a lovely piece of land called Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. On one side- the St. Paul Skyline. On the other, the magnificent limestone and sandstone cliffs of Dayton’s Bluff and Mounds Park. We come to Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary to look for the season’s changes in the prairie, to see dabbling ducks on the wetland ponds, and to spot hawks and eagles on the wing.


  • Portable toilet
  • Water fountain (off in 2020)
  • Benches (limestone slab)
  • EV charging station (ChargePoint)
  • Bonus: train tracks run adjacent to the site, so train sightings are common- always a plus (despite the noise!)

Trail Information

  • Trails are a mix of gravel and dirt/turf.
  • The main loop from the parking lot to the eastern-most pond is 1 mile, with several options for cutting it shorter.
  • Note that if the weather has been wet, or snow is melting, there will be standing water on parts of the trail and you should wear rubber boots or expect wet feet.

Ideas for your Mini Adventure

  • Learn about the site’s history by reading and discussing the signs at the start of the trail.
  • Step down to the rock shelves near the main cave entrance and explore the water as it trickles through. Notice the sounds the water makes.
  • Read the landscape: as you hike along the north trail below the cliff and cross over the limestone “bridge”, notice that the direction of the creek’s flow changes. Why? You’re actually hiking along a place where two little flows come together- one from the east and one from the west- before they drop to the largest wetland pond.
  • Leave the main trail and spend a few minutes on one of the pond viewing ledges. Look in the water for minnows, fish, water bugs and ducks.
  • Explore the concrete platforms of the Red Oak Corridor in the middle of the sanctuary, leaping and running from platform to platform.
  • Hop across the creek as you approach the eastern-most duck pond and view the lower reaches of the sandstone cliffs. Crouch down and feel the sand on the ground. We do not recommend climbing on or hiking up the sandstone ledges.