|Distance||2.5 miles roundtrip|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Summer, Fall|
- See the downtowns of both Minneapolis and St. Paul simultaneously
- Only 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis
- Visit the Richardson Nature Center to learn more about the native flora and fauna
Having previously lived in Los Angeles, where any form of nature is hard to come by unless you drive for hours in traffic, I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of parks within the Twin Cities metro, especially those operated by the Three Rivers Park District like Carver Park Reserve and Elm Creek Park Reserve. Unlike your typical city park with grass fields and playgrounds, this is a taste of real nature right in your backyard with forests, lakes, and prairies and miles of trails to see it all. During the winter, this park is known for its downhill skiing, so I decided to take a hike to the top of the hill in the off-season to enjoy the ice-free view.
Starting at the Richardson Nature Center, follow the trail north around the turtle basking pond and through the prairie, as pictured below. When you come to a fork, head to the left for a bit, then veer to the right at the next fork. The trail should start heading uphill and curving to the south, and you will soon see the ski lifts in the distance. Keep climbing to the top of the hill, then enjoy your view!
Stay on the top of the crest, eventually descending on a trail that ends near the bike path. You can either take the bike path or take the North Trail (a cross country ski trail that is only open seasonally). You will see a lake on your right, as pictured below, and a road straight in front of you. Turn left. There will be a hiking trail that runs parallel to the bike trail that you can follow back to the parking lot.
This was a great hike to get some cardio with excellent views, all within a short drive of most places in the Twin Cities metro. I plan on returning again during the warmer weather to check out the other trails in this wonderful park!
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, and watch for a sign for the Richardson Nature Center. Park in the lot.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking is free at all Three Rivers Park District parks and trails.
Hyland Lake Park Reserve, Minnesota
Anderson Lakes Park Reserve, Minnesota
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota
Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, Minnesota