A Walking Tour Through Lake Como's Trails

Como Lake, near Black Bear Crossing Pavilion
Clara James

Lake Como, in northwest St. Paul, is one of the largest lakes in the city. The lake is surrounded by Como Park, which has a zoo, conservatory, fairground rides and attractions.

A large parking lot on the shore of the lake is accessible from Lexington Avenue. There's a cafe and pavilion here, Black Bear Crossings.

A paved walking trail, and a cycle trail circle the lake.

The walking trail hugs the lake shore and is 1.6 miles long - or 3200 steps. There's grass to the side of the trail for joggers who prefer a softer surface.

The bicycle path is 1.75 miles long, and is almost all flat, with some very gentle hills in a couple of places where it takes a slightly different route to the walking trail. In common with trails around other lakes, the cycle trail is one way. The path runs anti-clockwise around the lake.

Walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, cyclists all use the lake, and it can get busy in the summer.

Many other cyclists add a loop of Lake Como to longer rides that take them through the area.

This tour will head around the lake anti-clockwise from the parking lot at Black Bear Crossings pavilion.

01 of 09

Lake Como Pavilion - Black Bear Crossings

Distance Sign at Lake Como, St. Paul. It's 1.6 miles around the lake.
Clara James

Start at Lake Como Pavilion, called Black Bear Crossings.

There was a pavilion at Lake Como for over 100 years, but the original building was neglected in recent years and fell into disrepair. The city determined the building was not salvageable, tore it down, and built a modern replica in its place.

In the summer, paddle boats and other watercraft can be rented at the pavilion, and live music concerts are held in the evenings.

Walk, or ride, south, to circle the lake anti-clockwise. Only 3199 steps to go!

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02 of 09

USS Swordfish Memorial

Memorial to USS Swordfish (SS-193) near Lake Como, St. Paul
Clara James

A short way past the pavilion, about 100 yards from the lake, is a memorial to the USS Swordfish SS193 submarine, lost in January 1945. The memorial is in the shape of a torpedo with a list of the names of the crew lost on one side, and a history of the submarine on the other.

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03 of 09

Lake Como's South Shore

Como Lake seen through the trees from the south shore
Clara James

The walking trail and the bike path diverge for a short way here. Cyclists follow an undulating path through the trees while walkers stay by the lake shore.

There are several interpretive signs on the lake shore, on the walking trail, documenting Lake Como's birds, wild flowers, and interesting facts about the lake.

There are fishing jetties on the south side of the lake. bass, walleye, and muskie can be fished for, but only fish greater than a certain sizemay be removed from the lake.

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04 of 09

Views Across the Lake

Lake Como Pavilion, seen from the east side of the lake.
Clara James

The path continues around the lake to the east shore, and runs parallel to East Como Lake Drive for a while. This is usually where long distance cyclists join and leave to ride a lake loop.

There's a nice view of the pavilion, and the paddle boaters, from the east shore of the lake.

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05 of 09

Wild Flowers at Lake Como

Stepping Stones at Lake Como
Clara James

An area of wetland where many water birds live is on the east side of the lake. Steps lead down to a defined path through a marshy area filled with wildflowers in the summer. Stepping stones lead across a particularly marshy part.

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06 of 09

Lake Como Wild Birds and Animals

Egret at Lake Como
Clara James

Many wild birds, like this egret, live at Lake Como. As the signs say, please don't feed them.

There's also giant dragonflies, and frogs hopping in the marsh, which enchant small children.

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07 of 09

Almost Done!

Lake Como's East Shore
Clara James

Almost done!

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08 of 09


Waterfall at Lake Como
Clara James

A man-made waterfall and pools are on a rise behind the pavilion. Picnic tables and a super view of the lake make this a popular lunch spot.

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09 of 09

Back to Base. Want to Explore More?

Black Bear at Black Bear Crossings
Clara James

A black bear welcomes you back to your starting point at Black Bear Crossings pavilion. The pavilion serves ice cream, coffee and full meals.

If you'd like to explore more, Como Zoo, Conservatory and Japanese Gardens are about a half-mile away.

To walk there, follow the path south behind the parking lot towards the arched pedestrian bridge. Cross over the bridge, then turn right and follow Kaufmann Drive to the Zoo and Conservatory.

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