Pilot Knob

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Area and County

Dakota County





25 acres


Interactive Pocket Guide


N44 52.732, W93 10.029

Hiking Trails

0.35 mile paved

0.1 mile mowed


No hunting

Ecological Classification


Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Classification


Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal


St. Paul-Baldwin Plains

Land Type Association(s)

Wescott Moraine

Native Plant Communities1

Not mapped (7/21/2016)

Natural Features

Restored prairie

Ownership City of Mendota Heights logo        
  City of Mendota Heights        

Pilot Knob Preservation Association

Dakota County Protected Lands

National Park Service, Mississippi National River & Recreation Area


Pilot Knob is an historic site in Mendota Heights on the east bank of the Minnesota River. Two overlooks provide spectacular vistas of Fort Snelling, the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, and the Minneapolis skyline. A half-mile of paved and mowed trails include interpretive signs that describe the history of the site. The trail connects to Dakota County’s Big Rivers Regional Trail, a paved bike trail. Bald Eagles and migrating raptors are often seen flying overhead.

Pilot Knob is known to the Dakota as Oheyawahi, or “a hill much visited.” It served as a burial site for for Dakota Villages along the Minnesota River. It is here that the Dakota signed a treaty in 1851 that transferred millions of acres of land to the United States. The City of Mendota Heights acquired 25 acres on the hill in 2006. Overhead power lines were buried underground, brush was cut and removed, prairie was restored, and wildflowers and oak trees were planted.

There is a small parking area on the east side of Pilot Knob Road.






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Kirk Nelson

Known to Dakota people as Oheyawahi, "the hill much visited," Pilot Knob is a place of distinctive historical, cultural, and environmental importance, a sacred site, a landmark of Minnesota's beginnings. Pilot Knob is located on the east end of the Mendota Bridge, south of Highway 55 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

— Pilot Knob Preservation Association

Road to Parking

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Trail from parking area

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Council Fires Overlook

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Overlook area

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Up slope from Council Fires Overlook

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View of Minneapolis

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos



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A brochure with a map is available at the parking area

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Restored Prairie

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View from the Top

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Interpretive Sign

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Council Fires Overlook

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  Pilot Knob
Great River Greening
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  Conservation Grazingat Pilot Knob Hill
Great River Greening

Published on Jul 19, 2013

As part of a long-term prairie reconstruction effort at Pilot Knob Hill in Mendota Heights, Great River Greening introduced horses and ponies for conservation grazing on a warm, sunny morning in July.

Conservation grazing is a restoration technique that introduces grazing livestock to feed on nonnative grasses as a means to increase the biodiversity of the native landscape.

In addition to conservation grazing, other efforts, including prescribed burning, mowing, and removal of buckthorn and sumac invasive species, have been implemented throughout the year. This combination of conservation efforts is carefully planned for native species to thrive and nonnative species to be eliminated from the area.

The city of Mendota Heights is funding this event through a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About Pilot Knob
Pilot Knob is a sacred, spiritual site and burial ground for the Dakota people, known to them as Oheyawahi, "the hill much visited." It is also the signature site of the Treaty of 1851, where millions of acres of Dakota land were ceded to the United States. And, it is a historic navigational marker. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota has identified Pilot Knob as one of Minnesota's 10 most endangered historic places.

Located on a high, prominent hill on the east bank of the Minnesota River near where it meets the Mississippi River, Pilot Knob provides sweeping views of both, as well as Fort Snelling State Park, and downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. It attracts numerous uncommon and rare bird species and provides critical habitat for native grassland wildlife that includes eagles, migrating raptors and songbirds, long-eared owls, wild turkeys, and whitetail deer.

Prairie Restoration and Community Stewardship
Much of the rich biodiversity at Pilot Knob is due to a 10-year prairie restoration project Great River Greening began in 2007, under contract with the City of Mendota Heights, with a goal to bring back the native prairie and savanna habitats that were present in the mid-1800s, before the land was settled by Europeans. A great deal of the work has involved volunteers, an integral component in Greening's mission to secure the legacy of Minnesota lands and waters through community-based restoration, stewardship, and partnership.

About Great River Greening
Restoring the Land, Renewing Communities.
Since 1995, Great River Greening has worked to secure the legacy of Minnesota land and water through community restoration, stewardship and partnerships. We have ecological expertise in natural resource and water quality management, and in community building. We work in collaboration at a grassroots level so partners, landowners and volunteers feel connected to an area, understand the power of working together, and are protective of the legacy that we pass on to future generations.



Published on Aug 12, 2016

10 AUG 2016 Butterflies and flowers on Pilot Knob, Mendota Heights, MN.





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MinnesotaSeasons.com Observations



One tracked bird species has been seen here:



Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)




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