Elm Creek Park Reserve

At 4,900 acres, Elm Creek Park Reserve is the largest park in Three Rivers. The park features amenities for almost every outdoor activity, including the Winter Recreation Area, Eastman Nature Center, miles of hiking and biking trails, a swim pond, mountain biking and much more. Elm Creek is also home to a variety of wildlife such as eagles, sandhill cranes, deer, bluebirds, beavers, loons, trumpeter swans and hawks.

Elm Creek PDF maps

Things To Do

Archery

Archery

Man sighting target from elevated platform

An expansive, 30-acre archery range is on the northwest side of the park. There is a walk through course as well as targets set at various distances and an elevated platform. A daily or annual pass is required. Open year-round.

Bike Trail

Biking

Children biking on paved trail

20 miles of trails

Elm Creek's paved trails offer breathtaking views of woodlands, wetlands and old farm fields. The trail system is connected to city trails in Maple Grove, Dayton and Champlin, and to the Rush Creek and Medicine Lake Regional Trails.

Campground

Camping

Log cabin in the woods

Camper Cabins

Camper cabins are located near the horse and paved bike/hike trails. Reservations required.

Group Camp

Rush Creek Group Camp is located near biking/hiking trails. Reserve a group campsite.

Horse Camp

The Elm Creek Horse Camp is located on the north end of the park near the archery range. The horse camp has five sites. Each campsite can hold up to eight people and two sleeping units. Self-contained RVs are not allowed. Reservations are required. 

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country Skiing

Cross-country skiers

11.6 miles of trails

Trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing. Trails range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Some trails are lit, and manufactured snow guarantees a longer cross-country ski season. Ski rentals are available. A Three Rivers cross-country annual or daily ski pass is required for skiers ages 12 and older. Rental availability depends on snow conditions. Check trail conditions.

Rentals now available online.

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Boy throwing disc to basket

18 holes

Come play the challenging 18-hole Elm Creek Disc Golf Course that demands distance as well as accuracy. A daily or annual pass is required.

Dog Trails - Off Leash

Dog Off-leash

Dogs running and playing

29 fenced acres

Dogs can run and play in the 29-acre fenced area with a separate area for small and frail dogs. Additionally, there is a fenced wetland pond. A daily or annual pass is required for the off-leash area. Owners must pick up after their dogs.

Dog Trails - On Leash

Dog Trails

Couple walking dog on leash

20 miles of trails

Elm Creek has lots to explore on two legs or four. Dogs on a six-foot, non-retractable leash are allowed on paved and turf trails except where posted otherwise. Owners must pick-up after their dogs.

Downhill Ski Area

Downhill & Telemark Skiing

Child and instructor on ski hill

This lighted beginner-level slope is a perfect place to gain confidence before heading to the bigger hills. The terrain park with rope tows is packed with challenging features. The Snowsports Academy provides lessons for every level of skier and boarder. Ski and snowboard rentals are available. A daily or season pass is required.

Geocaching

Geocaching

GPS units on table

Geocaching is a family-friendly, high-tech treasure hunt that combines respect for the environment with a sense of adventure. This activity involves placing or looking for a cache using global positioning system (GPS) equipment.

Hiking

Hiking

Family hiking wooded trail

12.7 miles of trails

With over 50 miles of hiking trails, Elm Creek is a wonderful place to explore. Multi-use turf trails are found throughout the park. The park reserve’s paved trails take you through woodlands, wetlands and old farm fields. The trail system is connected to city trails in Maple Grove, Dayton and Champlin, and to the Rush Creek and Medicine Lake Regional Trails.

Please note: In winter, hiking on cross-country ski trails is not permitted.

Fall Hiking – Lighted Trails

Hike under the lights in fall! The Northern Lights Trail at Elm Creek has lights on until 9 PM until winter trail operations begin (typically after two–three inches of snowfall). 

History Education

History Exploration

Man views display in historical house

Step back in time and explore the restored 1854 Pierre Bottineau House, located near the Elm Creek Chalet. Experience the exhibits that highlight the life and times of the legendary Bottineau or take part in public programs.

Horse Trails

Horseback Riding

Horseback rider in an open field

17.6 miles of trails

A 10-foot-wide, mowed horse trail consists of two main loops and a connection northwest along Diamond Creek into the big woods. A daily or annual pass is required. Drop-in campsites are available. Three Rivers does not rent horses. Click below to check trail status updates. 

Mountain Bike Trail

Mountain Biking

Mountain biker on wooded trail

12.7 miles of trails

The singletrack trail offers an exciting ride for beginner through advanced mountain bikers. Hiking is allowed along with winter biking and snowshoeing. Click below to check trail conditions and learn more about mountain biking in Three Rivers.

 

Nature Education

Nature Education

Children viewing a monarch butterfly

Nestled in the sugar maple floodplain forest of Rush Creek, this is a great place to begin an outdoor journey. Eastman Nature Center offers something for everyone from hands-on activities to live animals to view and a multitude of year-round programs and miles of turf hiking trails.

Picnic Area

Picnic Areas

Large group picnic

Reservation picnic areas are available during the spring, summer and fall seasons. First-come, first-served picnic areas are located near the swim pond and play area.

Play Area

Play Areas

Colorful play area with slide and tunnel

Open

Elm Creek has one of the largest play areas in the state. Swings, slides, ropes and lots of fun features make it fun for kids of all ages.

A reservation is required for all buses and commercial vehicles. Call 763-559-6700.

Skijoring and Dog Sledding

Skijoring & Dog Sledding

Skijourer with dog

4.3 miles of trails

Elm Creek has over seven miles of multi-use trails for skijoring. The trails are packed and do not require a ski pass.

Sledding

Sledding

Girl sledding on hill

Looking to get the wiggles out on a winter day? A sledding hill with minimal grooming is located in the Recreation Area. Snowboards, tubes or railed sleds are not permitted.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding

a snowboarder in the air off a jump. The hill and other snowboarders are behind him.

This lighted beginner-level slope is a perfect place to gain confidence before heading to the bigger hills. The terrain park with rope tows is packed with challenging features. The Snowsports Academy provides lessons for every level of skier and boarder. Ski and snowboard rentals are available. A daily or season pass is required.

Snowmobile Trail

Snowmobiling

Snowmobilers on wooded trail

Nearly 10 miles of trails provide links through the park to state Grants-in-Aid snowmobile trails. Snowmobile trailer parking is available at the park. A daily or season trailer parking pass is required.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

Couple snowshoeing in an open field

Seven miles of trails

Snowshoe rentals are available to reserve online from Eastman Nature Center. Reservations must be made in advance.

Eastman has 6.5 miles of snowshoeing trails that are great for photography or bird watching. Opportunities to enhance your experience are available through cellphone audio stops, trail guide sheets, exploration kits and interpretive signs. Please note: Snowshoeing is not permitted on cross-country ski trails unless otherwise noted.

Swimming

Swimming

Lifeguards observing people swimming in a swim pond

Closed

A chlorinated and filtered swim pond with a sand beach, concessions for snacks, lifeguard station and bathroom/changing facilities is located near the general picnic area. A daily or annual pass is required.

Tubing

Tubing

Snow tubers waiting at the top of a hill

Tubers will have a blast speeding down a hill 10 stories high on 12 specially designed lighted lanes at the Winter Recreation Area. Step onto the carpet lift and return to the top.

NEW FOR THE 2020-21 SEASON: Advance online reservations are required for tubing. Tubes can be reserved in two-hour timeframes up to 14 days in advance as conditions allow. A maximum of 10 tubes per day can be reserved.

Upcoming Events

October 17-31 | Multiple Locations
Dress up in costume, walk on an enchanted trail, try geocaching and more at one of Three Rivers' Halloween programs!

Submit by November 15 | Eastman
Submit your favorite photos of the parks for the Thankful for Parks: Amateur Photography Show! All submissions will be displayed for a month at Eastman Nature Center.

All Programs & Events

See all upcoming programs and events at Elm Creek.

A blend of modern and rustic, the Elm Creek Chalet features a huge fireplace built of timbers and fieldstone, a cathedral-style ceiling and large windows overlooking Elm Creek Park Reserve. Eastman Nature Center offers additional spaces for smaller gatherings.

Elm Creek features two 12’x16’ cabins, located in a semi-remote area of the park. Each cabin features a screened-in porch, table, benches, wooden bunk beds with mattresses, and a fire ring and picnic table outside. Each are equipped with electricity, heat, overhead lighting, ceiling fans and outlets. Camper cabins do not have flush toilets or shower facilities. One cabin is accessible for people with disabilities and sleeps five; the other cabin sleeps six.

Available seasonally; Cabins can be reserved up to one year in advance of your first night's stay. Call 763-559-6700 for more information.

Natural Resources

Pollinator Survey

Minnesota has at least 20 bumblebee species. Pollinator survey results by the Natural Resources division have confirmed 15 different species between Elm Creek and Crow-Hassan Park Reserves.

Volunteering

We take great care to preserve the natural beauty of this park through the efforts of our Natural Resources division. Volunteers are an important part of this work.

The Wandering Naturalist

Episodes 102-104: Fear of Nature

Get a European historical perspective on the fear of wilderness; listen to a discussion about what animals, if any, you might fear in parks (and how to stay safe); and learn how you can address fears that show up when trying new recreational activities.

Related Blog Posts

October 19, 2021

Bikers share their experiences from the trails and how adapted equipment is creating a more inclusive trail ride.

Pathways Into the Parks

By: Harshita Somani

August 10, 2021

The Pathways Internship program introduces teenagers to various roles throughout Three Rivers Park District, giving them an opportunity to explore different career paths. Follow along with Harshita Somani, the 2021 marketing intern, as she relays her experience in the program this summer.

June 28, 2021

Since 1988, Gene Lau has given more than 10,000 hours of his time to Three Rivers — more than any other volunteer we've had. Learn all about Gene's volunteer roles, why he enjoys it and how he ended up contributing so much time. 

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