Quiet Parks to Explore

By: Alyssa Schauer & Erin Korsmo

April 03, 2020

Category: Recreation

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the trees are budding. Busy squirrels are racing up sugar maples and chattering in excitement. Families, dog walkers, bikers and hikers are back on the trails and sidewalks. As Earth blooms, we’re all feeling the urge to get outside and welcome spring.

But in the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, stay-at-home directives and practicing proper 6-foot social distancing, how we can enjoy the great outdoors safely?

Many of our parks offer trail access points away from the main entrances and recreation areas. We’ve rounded up a list of some of these “not-as-busy” areas in our parks where you can find the space you need to spread out and still bask in the beauty of spring sunshine. 

Check out the park maps for other parking and access areas to your favorite parks. When you’re in the park, use the interactive park maps to follow your route.

1. Baker Park Reserve, Maple Plain

full moon on a dusky horizon

Baker Park Reserve is a natural gem on the edge of the metro that offers 2,700 acres of big woods forest and meadows. There are a variety of parking lots available and trails to explore around the main recreation area.

Or, from the Marshview Group Camp (located in the center of the park), hike the 3-mile loop turf loop that cuts through towering basswood and maple trees.

Note: Parking here is very limited. Aim for a sunrise or sunset hike to avoid crowds.

2. Carver Park Reserve, Victoria

oak tree on a prairie

Carver Park Reserve is the place to find solitude on the water and peacefulness in rolling prairies. 

Head to Parley Lake, off of Grimm Road, to access miles of paved and turf trails.

Access to paved trails is also available near the dog off-leash area, off of Park Drive. Bring your pup for a walk (on-leash) on the trail, and then have some playtime in the off-leash area.

Bring your bike and pedal 9.1 miles of paved trails winding through the park; connect to the aggregate Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail for a longer adventure.

3. Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, Hanover

prairie landscape with sun on the horizon

At Crow-Hassan, you can immerse yourself in thousands of acres of restored habitat that are home to countless native species – even some that are threatened and endangered.

Park in the main trailhead lot at the entrance and go either north or south to access the 4-mile loop in the center of the park. Choose from a peaceful walk through expansive prairie, a quiet meander through the woods, or both!

Listen for meadowlarks and sandhill cranes and keep your eyes peeled for soaring eagles and other wildlife.

4. Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, Rockford

morning horizon on lake rebecca

Enjoy expansive wilderness at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve and find seclusion on trails that weave through tall forests, prairies and along wetlands. 

Try the turf Deerwood Hiking Trail (1.5-mile loop) and look for owls, trumpeter swans, deer, eagles and more on your jaunt through the woods.

Or bring your bike for an adventure on wheels and ride around the 8-mile paved loop through the park. This trail is also great for a walk through the park.

5. Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, Savage

three large trees along a trail

Murphy-Hanrehan offers over 21 miles of trails, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and find some solitude.

Park at the recreation entrance and hike the turf trails east of the dog off-leash area. There are several loops for you to choose your own adventure and distances for hiking.

It’s one of the best parks in Three Rivers for birding, so bring your binoculars and head out for an adventure! Bring a birding checklist and keep track of what you see. Trails take you through forests, wetlands and prairie, ensuring you’ll never get bored. 

Friendly Reminders

No matter where you get outside, remember to:

  • Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Refrain from gathering at entrances and in parking lots.
  • Come prepared to have limited access to restrooms and drinking water.
  • Leave no trace; bring your trash and other items home with you for disposal.
  • Practice good hygiene and stay home if you're not feeling well.

Learn more on how to enjoy the outdoors during COVID-19 and get the latest updates and information surrounding COVID-19 and Three Rivers.

About the Authors

a smiling woman wearing a straw hat

Alyssa Schauer is part of the marketing team at Three Rivers. She earned her Bachelor's degree in poetry writing and communications at Winona State University and formerly worked as a journalist at a small-town newspaper. After college, she volunteered with the Minnesota Conservation Corps to clear and maintain trails in Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters. Outside of work, she spends time in the woods looking at everything up close (especially ferns and spiders), writing poems about nature, canoeing with her husband, planning Halloween costumes year-round, playing Nintendo and raising a pride of four naughty (but cute!) cats.

A woman in a black jacket smiles.

Erin Korsmo is the Web Coordinator at Three Rivers Park District. Her background is in journalism and content strategy. Erin has a longstanding passion for the outdoors. As a child, she went camping every summer and volunteered to count loons for the DNR with her family. Erin is a Minnesota Master Naturalist in the deciduous forest and prairie biomes. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, identifying and photographing plants and wildlife, crafting, and spending time with her husband and cat.

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By: Erin Korsmo Andrea Breitung

May 11, 2020

We're back with another list of our favorite parks for a quieter walk. Read on to find your next place to spread out and explore. 

May 02, 2019

Three Rivers Park District is home to some special spring wildflowers, some of which have a very short above-ground life. Learn about six of these flowers and where to find them. 

April 15, 2019

Did you know that you can find poetry along the trails of Silverwood Park? In honor of National Poetry Month, learn about this art, the voices you can hear on the trail, and why you might want to give it a try yourself.

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