From the parking area and trailhead on the south side of 118th Avenue, the trail – marked by yellow blazes - quickly descends the bluff and reaches the edge of Swan Creek Pond. There is a very short trail to the left when you get to Swan Creek Pond, but the main trail heads heads west (right) here, skirting the edge of the large impoundment. For 0.3 mile, you follow the shoreline of a long inlet on the pond’s west side that is carpeted in lily pads. The trail then climbs and passes within sight of the guardrails along 118th Avenue before swinging into the woods to skirt the marsh that surrounds the inlet at its west end. At Mile 0.9, you descend to cross a footbridge over a small creek, pass a bench and return to the water on the opposite side of the inlet.
The trail skirts the edge of the main portion of the pond for a very scenic if somewhat muddy stretch at times and within a 0.3 mile there is two-track is above you. The trail parallels the sandy lane for the next mile but it’s rare to hear traffic on it and impossible, from this angle, to see any.
The trail skirts near the edge of the pond for a moderately hard walk and then at Mile 2 climbs steeply to the river bluff to the two-track. At this point South Swan Creek Trail merges with the two-track and hikers follow it south to a trailhead and parking area where a red gate that blocks vehicle traffic from 116th Avenue. The two-track skirts the edge of the bluff, providing views into the river valley below during early spring and fall. Occasionally you’ll see a blue DNR pathway triangle in a tree, indicating the two-track doubles as a ski trail in the winter.
Within a quarter mile of the red gate, you come to a post marking the junction with the Wakazoo Trail. Also referred to on maps as the Cross Country Foot Trail, this path heads west 3 miles to Ely Lake Campground. South Swan Creek Loop, however, continues south and at Mile 3 emerges at 116th Avenue, a well-graded gravel road.
Head left on 116th Avenue to cross Swan Creek and on the east side look for a sign with a yellow arrow arrowed sign marking where the trail departs the road. The return walk north begins by paralleling 44th Street briefly and then climbing the bluff for a glimpse of the river below. At Mile 3.8 you pass a turnaround at the end of a woods road.
To the north the trail remains on top of the bluff most of the way to the former Pine Point Campground and is marked by yellow blazes. The social trails that head west to the creek and pond are not. The rustic campground was closed in 2016 but at Mile 4.4 you skirt close to one of the loops to the east (left) while spur trails lead west (left) to Swan Creek Pond. The trail remains within view of the water and whatever waterfowl or wildlife the pond attracts.
Beyond the campground you round Pine Point itself and, from its north side, can view the dam and 118th Avenue above it. The final leg of the loop consists of crossing the access road to the boat launch, then climbing up to the paved road. Head left on 118th Avenue but be careful, it can get busy with traffic at times. Your car is now 0.3 mile west (left) on 118th Avenue.