|Distance||3 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Summer, Fall|
- Wide variety of landscapes
- Secret barbecue grills on the lake
- Wildflowers covering the hills
As promised in my post from Hyland Lake Park Reserve earlier this year, I have returned to the park to explore other trails in the warmer weather. This trail looping around the park's namesake lake does not disappoint with many waterfront vistas, varied terrain, and pretty prairie. You might even forget you're right in the middle of the third largest city of the Twin Cities metro.
Dogs are not allowed on unpaved trails in Three Rivers Park District parks, but you can take your dog on some of the other 8.7 miles of paved trail throughout the park. This particular route is not family friendly due to the distance and the hills on the latter part of the hike (I opted to take the aptly named Hill Trail rather than stay on the Lake Trail); however, if you stay on the Lake Trail, the loop is mostly flat and 2 miles -- a good family hike. There is also a giant play area that your kids will want to visit before and after the hike. In the winter, this trail is designated for cross country skiing and hiking is not allowed. I visited late on a Friday morning, and the parking lot was full by the time I left. The play area is especially popular, but you won't see nearly that many people on the trail.
From the parking lot, follow the paved trail east past the play area. Cut through the grass in the picnic area on your right to find the trail; if you reach the bathrooms (separate building with nothing but bathrooms, not the information center near the play area) you've gone too far. Turn right at the fork ahead, and the trail will look something like the picture below with tall mossy trees.
You are now on the Hill Trail (assuming you went left), a black diamond cross country ski trail in the winter. Your uphill climbing is rewarded with rolling hills covered in flowers, like the goldenrods blooming in the picture below. This area is quite pretty, and worth the journey away from the Lake Trail. After descending a hill, you will pass the small pond pictured below on your left side. Soon, the trail intersects with the paved bike trail, and you must follow this paved trail straight through the next intersection until it meets up with the Hill Trail. On your left side, you will see a restored prairie. These grasslands pictured below look much different than the flowery meadows earlier on the trail. Eventually, the trail will converge with the Lake Trail at the group campground. Turn left here, and later the trail will travel alongside the paved trail. In the final portion of the hike, the trail bends to the right away from the paved trail and through another grassy picnic area. You can choose to cut across the grass to shorten the distance, or you can follow the shoreline and find the dock pictured below for some more pretty lake views. The trail ends at the information center. Walk up the stairs or the boat launch ramp to return to the parking lot. This is a solid hike with a wide variety of landscapes to keep you visually entertained, and the Hill Trail provides just enough cardio to make you feel good. Given the convenient location in the Twin Cities metro, this hike is good for a weeknight adventure or as the conclusion to a picnic at one of the secret grills on the lake. Let me know how you enjoyed the hike in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!
From Minneapolis, take Interstate 35W south to Interstate 494 west, then exit at Bush Lake Road and turn left. At the first intersection, turn right to continue on Bush Lake Road. Drive past the sign for the Richardson Nature Center, then turn left at the sign for the recreation and play area.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking is free at all Three Rivers Park District parks and trails. There are many picnic areas, a large play area, and a staffed building with flush toilets near the lot.