At Little Falls the GRR neatly misses the fast-food and gas claptrap that has sprung up along the busy Hwy-371 bypass, proceeding instead through the heart of town, which would probably still be recognizable to aviator Charles Lindbergh, who spent his boyhood summers here a century ago. Running along the west bank of the river, the GRR passes by the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site (1620 Lindbergh Dr. S., 320/616-5421, Thurs.-Sun. summer, $8). The house, which sits a mile south of town on a beautiful stretch of the Mississippi, bears the unusual distinction of having been restored with the meticulous guidance of “Lucky Lindy” himself. Lindbergh wanted the site to honor his father, a five-term U.S. congressman, as well as himself, and so it does. Exhibits also illustrate the junior Lindbergh’s life and achievements after his historic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. There is little mention of Lindy’s public admiration for Adolf Hitler, but the museum does display Lindy’s 1959 VW Beetle, which he drove more than 170,000 miles on four continents.

South of Little Falls, agriculture continues to dominate the landscape, but as our route approaches the junction with I-94 at St. Cloud, the loss of farms foreshadows what is to come downriver. For nearly 100 miles, the GRR does its best to offer a scenic alternative, but sprouting subdivisions and suburban mini-malls make it hard to enjoy.

I-94 parallels the GRR and the Mississippi River all the way through the heart of the Twin Cities, and for better or worse it’s pretty much the closest you’ll get to a riverside highway. If you were hoping to follow the river through this stretch (by car, at least), you’re out of luck.

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