The Minnesota Zoo Treetop Trail, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian loop, is now officially open to the public. The 1.25-mile Treetop Trail takes guests to new heights – up to 32 feet above the ground – as they travel into the trees and gain new perspectives of many zoo animals, including tigers, moose, bison and camels. The Treetop Trail will be open year-round for guests to experience Minnesota’s four seasons in all their glory.
Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan helped kick off the historic grand opening by proclaiming it “Minnesota Zoo Treetop Trail Day” in the state in front of an enthusiastic crowd of nature, animal and zoo lovers.
“The Minnesota Zoo has always been a special place for our family,” Flanagan said. “By creating new opportunities to get outdoors and encouraging Minnesotans of all ages to take new perspectives, the Treetop Trail is a treasure and a true gift to Minnesotans. The Treetop Trail takes us one step closer to making Minnesota the best state for kids and families for generations to come. I’m grateful to everyone who put their time, energy and care into making this vision a reality.”
In his opening remarks, Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley proclaimed that the Treetop Trail is a gift for Minnesotans. “The Treetop Trail will provide an accessible and immersive pathway to nature for all ages, abilities, backgrounds and communities,” he said.
The Treetop Trail appropriately opened on World Nature Conservation Day (July 28) and reaffirms the Minnesota Zoo as a worldwide leader in wildlife conservation and a trusted nature destination. The Minnesota Zoo opened in 1978 with a mission to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife.
“For the last 45 years, the zoo has done a tremendous job connecting people and animals,” Frawley said. “The Treetop Trail allows us to reimagine the traditional zoo experience and further the connection between people and the natural world.”
The Treetop Trail gives guests year-round access to hundreds of acres of hardwood forest, ponds and marshes, as well as the diverse wildlife that calls Minnesota home. And, of course, a bird’s eye view for bird watchers. It adds more than 70,000 square feet to the zoo and includes 22 bump-out overlooks to enhance the viewing experience while walking the trail.
Integrating into the Minnesota Zoo’s original monorail track, which opened in 1979 and was retired in 2013, the Treetop Trail is the ultimate reuse construction project. Planning began in June 2018 and a ceremonial groundbreaking was held in April 2022. “Thanks to the full support from our Boards, legislative and government champions, as well as the philanthropic community, we have secured $39 million in public and private partnership to support our Step into Nature campaign and this transformational project,” Frawley said.
The zoo contracted with award-winning Snow Kreilich Architects; engineering firm Buro Happold, known for its work on the High Line in New York City; TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture and Urbanism; and construction partner PCL. Together, they have been committed to minimizing disruptions to the zoo’s animals and guests before, during and after construction of the trail.