|Distance||7 miles roundtrip|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Summer, Fall|
- Learning some Minnesota history at the historic Grimm Farm
- Wilderness feelings within the Twin Cities metro
- Varied terrain and beautiful scenery
This was a quick day trip to yet another fabulous Three Rivers Park District location. My experience felt more like going to the wilderness than my trip to Sibley State Park, despite being much closer to the Twin Cities. Overall, Carver Park Reserve is a great place to hike for classic Minnesota scenery, chalk full of lakes, meadows, and forest.
You can start this hike from the parking lot adjacent to the historic Grimm Farm. Here you can learn more about Wendelin Grimm, a German immigrant who spent 20 years of his life inventing a new strain of alfalfa that can withstand the brutal Midwestern winters. They also offer tours of the historic farmhouse at certain times; inquire at the Visitor Center.
After visiting the farm, return to the parking lot to the trailhead at the northwest end of the lot. The connection between the trail and the parking lot was so overgrown when I visited that I opted to walk alongside the dirt road until the trail intersected further down. The entirety of this hike is on unpaved trail that is also shared with equestrians, so watch your step! Eventually you'll come to a fork in the road; take a turn to the right to head south, crossing the dirt road and paved bike trail. You missed the turn if you see a bench on the right side after the fork.
The next segment of trail is through a forested area, which provides a needed break from the sun on a hot day. If you forgot to use bug spray, now is when you will start to need it (if you haven't already). Eventually you will come to a T intersection; head to the right here.
After crossing over the paved bike trail again, the trail returns to the open prairie biome with beautiful, rolling, grassy hills with fewer bugs than the forested section. You will enter the forest again, and the view of Lundsten Lake will appear on your left, the beautiful scene pictured below. Shortly after, there will be a picnic bench where you can take a break and eat a snack.
The trail curves and starts following the highway with an electrified fence on your left (obviously where they keep the dinosaurs). This part isn't particularly scenic but is necessary to make this hike a loop. Once the trail bends to the left, you have made it through the worst part of the hike. If you want a nice side trip, follow the dirt road through a parking lot to the Fred E. King Memorial Water-bird Observation Area (maybe someday one of us will be considered great enough to have a water-bird observation area named after us). There is a single picnic bench overlooking Lundsten Lake, providing an excellent spot for lunch (but only if you have bug spray). I had the place entirely to myself on a Friday afternoon.
Return to the trail, which follows a dirt road before veering to the left and heading into the woods. Be on the lookout for wildflowers like the ones pictured below! After a sharp bend in the trail to the right, you will begin climbing a hill, eventually ending at a lookout tower. The view from this tower was pretty disappointing, so don't feel obligated to stop.
This spot is also the junction of several trails, so look for the unpaved trail heading northeast towards the creatively named Lake 2. After going around half of the lake, you will return to the trail you started on by turning right at the junction. Follow this back to the parking lot.
Despite the heat and the bugs, this was one of my favorite hikes I've done within the Twin Cities metro area. If you enjoyed this hike, come back and check out the other trails by the Lowry Nature Center or visit another great Three Rivers Park District Park like Elm Creek Park Reserve. Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!
As with other Three Rivers Park District locations, dogs are only allowed on paved trails, so unfortunately you need to leave your dog at home for this particular hike. However, Carver Park Reserve has 9.1 miles of paved trail, so you can make your own alternative route if you are set on bringing your dog. You can hike here in the three warmer seasons, but most of this trail is reserved for skiers in the winter and is unavailable for hiking. I did this hike midday on a particularly hot Friday, and I could count the number of people I saw with my hands. My guess is that on a more pleasant weekend day, the trails probably have more people given the proximity to the Twin Cities, though the distance involved in this hike should provide you with plenty of solitude.
From Minneapolis, take Interstate 35W south to Westbound Minnesota Highway 62. Take the exit for U.S. Highway 212. After crossing Interstate 494, take the exit for Minnesota Highway 5 - Arboretum Blvd. Continue straight for quite a while, then turn right on County Road 11 (Victoria Blvd). This is the main park road, and you will start to see signs identifying each park area. Look for the signs pointing towards Grimm Farm and turn left onto the dirt road (the road is very high quality and I had no problems in my sedan). There will be a small dirt lot on the right just after you pass a historic farmhouse.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking is free at all Three Rivers Park District parks and trails. This lot has the cleanest, nicest smelling pit toilets I've ever used in my life.
Carver Park Reserve, Minnesota
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Anderson Lakes Park Reserve, Minnesota
Westwood Hills Nature Center, Minnesota