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.

things to do



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


Children biking on paved trail

20 miles of trails

The park reserve’s paved trails afford 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.



Log cabin in the woods

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

Rush Creek Group Camp is for groups of 50 people or less and is located near biking/hiking trails. Reserve a group campsite.

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 artificial 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 are available. View chalet hours.

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 dog.

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 all paved trails except where posted otherwise. Owners must pick-up after their dogs.

Downhill Ski Area

Downhill and 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.



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.



Family hiking wooded trail

12.7 miles of trails

With over 50 miles of trails for hiking, Elm Creek is a wonderful place to explore. Multi-use turf trails are found throughout the park. The park reserve’s paved trails afford 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.

Fall Hiking – Lighted Trails

Hike under the lights in fall! The Northern Lights Trail at Elm Creek has lights on until 9:00 PM until winter trail operations begin (typically after 2–3 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


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

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.



Girl sledding on hill

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



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

Season passes are now on sale!

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


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.

Note: The South Elm Creek Snowmobile Parking Area (James Deane Parkway) will be closed for approximately two weeks due to an emerald ash borer infestation. The parking lot on the north end of the park (County Rd 121/129th Ave N) will remain open.



Couple snowshoeing in an open field

7 miles of trails

Snowshoe rentals are available at the Eastman Nature Center. Eastman has 6.5 miles of snowshoeing trails great for photography or bird watching. Opportunities to enhance your experience are available through cell phone audio stops, trail guide sheets, exploration kits, and interpretive signs.



Lifeguards observing people swimming in a swim pond


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. Open Memorial through Labor Day weekends. A daily or annual pass is required.



Snow tubers waiting at the top of a hill

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

Reservations are available for large groups by calling 763.694.7894 ext. 5.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 22 | Three Rivers Park District
Find adventure this summer! Choose from camps on topics including nature, science, survival, history and more. Registration opens Jan. 22 at 8 AM.

Jan. 24 & 25 | Eastman
Warm up this winter at Eastman's indoor beach. Build sandcastles, dig for seashells and meet live animals. Play beach games, make a craft and wear a swimsuit to get a prize.

Ongoing | Multiple Locations
Enjoy nighttime adventures under the magic of a full moon. Experience the beauty of the parks at night and see which creatures come out to greet you.

View all upcoming events and programs at Elm Creek!


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.

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.

Rental spaces at Elm Creek make a memorable setting for small meetings or large weddings. 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.

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.

The Wandering Naturalist

Episodes 38–40: Life Under the Ice

Explore what happens in lakes in the winter, learn how invasive species impact life under the ice, and discover the history of ice harvesting.

Related Blog Posts

Best Trails for Cross-Country Skiing

By: Three Rivers Staff

January 17, 2020

We're in for a lot of snow this weekend, which means it's time to hit the ski trails! Read on to find our favorite beginner, intermediate, advanced and long-distance (5-10K) cross-country ski trails in Three Rivers. 

January 06, 2020

Evergreens received their nickname because their needles appear green all year, even in the fall. Did you know, though, that conifers actually do lose their needles? Learn when coniferous trees shed their needles and how to tell if needle drop is normal or a sign of stress.

December 30, 2019

Could you complete 52 hikes in one year? That's what one Three Rivers employee set out to do in 2019. Learn about her experience taking on the 52 Hike Challenge and why you might want to try it for yourself in 2020. 

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