My Experience Finding New Adventures in Three Rivers

By: Beth Kalpin

July 19, 2021

Category: People of the Parks

I’ve never been exactly what you would call outdoorsy. I went to camp as a kid and we played capture the flag, swam at the lake and roasted s’mores. But in my adulthood, most of my outdoor time has consisted of patios and playgrounds with my family. (Spoiler alert, this has changed and it’s all because of Three Rivers!)

The thing is, I’ve also never been a homebody either. I have a preschooler and an elementary-aged kiddo. Before COVID, my kids and I were involved in lots of activities, parent and child classes, and events like music classes, Early Childhood Family Education, library story time, etc. We were always out and about doing something. When COVID hit and the stay-at-home orders went into place, it felt like the four walls of my home were closing in on me. 

We have medically high-risk family members and took social distancing very seriously. We were incredibly lucky because we were able to isolate (Thank you frontline workers!), and stay safely at home, but if I’m being honest, the days felt loooooong. And what’s more, every day began to feel the same. I basically spent every day just trying to help my school-aged kid get through distance learning, keep my little one out of mischief, and keep the house from falling apart.

The stay-at-home orders ended, vaccines were not yet available and resuming all of our old activities didn’t feel safe. The days were stretching out before me and I knew we needed to get creative. 

Taking A Deep Breath In The Woods

I tried to rack my brain to figure out what we could do safely that would get my kids away from screens and me out of the house before I lost my marbles. Enter Three Rivers Park District and their amazing parks and trails. 

We started small. First, we just went and walked through the woods of Hyland Lake Park Reserve. I swear I took my first deep, relaxed breath in months in those woods. 

Next, we biked through Carver Park Reserve. When I looked out at King’s Overlook, I could feel some of the weight of my worries melting away. I was hooked! What else could we do in Three Rivers Park District? Well, I am here to tell you, we could do a lot! 

Beth's bike is parked at the top of King's Overlook in Carver Park. Below you can see a lake and colorful flowers on a sunny day.

Exploring New Activities

Three Rivers offers a wide variety of activities for beginners that are led by their amazing naturalists and outdoor recreation staff. You just register and show up and they will show you what to do! 

Over the past year, my family has visited 14 different parks and trails and taken part in all kinds of activities that I would never have imagined that we would have tried. 
We went maple syruping at The Landing in Shakopee. Watching my kids’ faces light up with pride and excitement as the sap began to pour out of the tree is something I will never forget. 

We went geocaching at Cleary Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake. I would never have thought that two little kids could get so excited about using an old-fashioned GPS, but they were literally racing from point to point trying to be the first to spot the clues hidden throughout the park. 

We went snowshoeing and kicksledding at French Regional Park in Plymouth. People, if you haven’t tried kicksledding, do not go through another Minnesota winter without trying it! I might’ve even had more fun than the kids did. 

Beth and her husband post for a photo while snowshoeing at night at French Regional Park.

The list of activities that we’ve tried goes on and on, but don’t take my word for it. Just start looking through all of the fun activities that they have to offer at Three Rivers. Because of their COVID protocols and the fact that the activities that we have chosen have been all outdoors, I felt safe at each and every one of the activities we tried. I have a bucket list with all of the parks and trails on it; my goal is to try them all and to try as many new activities as I can along the way.

Adding Adventure & Variety to Life

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Three Rivers parks have made my life more livable this past year. Not every day is an adventure and we still have laundry that piles up, but signing up for these activities gives me and my family fun adventures to look forward to every month. It allows us to try new things and it breaks up the tedium of having every day look the same. When people ask me, “What’s new?” I have an answer again! I’ve even started doing some of the adult activities without my family. 

Beth tries fly fishing at Silverwood Park.

Recently, I took a canoeing class at Hyland Lake Park Reserve, and I saw a bald eagle soar down in front of our canoe and catch a fish. It didn’t even seem real. I still can’t believe it.

The week before that, I went fly fishing through a beginner’s course at Silverwood Park. I can say with 100 percent certainty, that this is something that pre-COVID me would never have attempted, but I did it and I had a blast! 

I wonder what else I can do? What else will I see? What could you see if you got out there and tried Three Rivers Parks for yourself?

About the Author

Beth Kalpin, a blonde-haired woman, smiles at the camera.

Beth is a Three Rivers enthusiast based in the Twin Cities. She loves to dabble in new things. One week she will discover her passion for making piñatas; the next week she will be found hiding painted rocks around the city. She is always up for a new adventure and loves exploring new places. She believes in making every day count and going to bed dog-tired every night.

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