Three Rivers Park District

Three Rivers Park District

Three Rivers Park District is a "special park district" serving the suburban areas of the Twin Cities metro including suburban Hennepin, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Ramsey counties. The mission of Three Rivers is, " [T] o promote environmental stewardship through recreation and education in a natural resources-based park system." Nearly six million people visit Three Rivers facilities each year.


A park system in the areas of Hennepin County outside of Minneapolis had been proposed as early as 1901, but it was not until 1955 that the Minnesota Legislature passed the enabling legislation which cleared the way to establish the park system in 1957. It was known then as the Hennepin County Park Reserve District. For its first decade, the Park District purchased nearly 21,000 acres (85 km²) of property, mostly farmland in the fast-growing suburban areas of Hennepin County. In 1967, the Park District began efforts to restore wetland, prairie, woodland, and wildlife habitat to their natural state, before 1800s settlement. The park district now has a policy stating that at least 80% of the land in a park reserve must be maintained or restored to its natural state, and only 20% of the land will be developed for active recreation. Not all of the parks in the system are park reserves; some of the smaller or more-developed parks are "regional parks".

Beginning in the 1970s, the focus shifted from acquisition of new lands to development. The building of recreational facilities including park buildings, beaches, boat launches, paved trails for hiking and biking, and cross-country ski trails began in earnest.

In 2005 the park system was renamed Three Rivers Park District to better reflect the areas it serves. Each of the Park District's facilities is located with watersheds that flow into three rivers - the Mississippi, Minnesota and Crow. These rivers have historically been and continue to be, significant in the lives of the region's residents.


In general, Three Rivers Park District facilities are open from 5 AM through sunset. Hours may be extended for special programs.

Baker Park Reserve

Baker Park Reserve, with an area of 3,313 acres (13.4 km²), is located in Medina, Minnesota. Its highlights include the Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement retreat, available for use by families and groups, and Baker National Golf Course. It has 8 miles (13 km) of paved biking/hiking trails. There is a mountain biking trail available by special-use permit in the winter.

Bryant Lake Regional Park

Bryant Lake Regional Park is located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and has an area of 170 acres. It features a swimming beach on Bryant Lake, a disc golf course, and a mix of paved and unpaved trails.

Carver Park Reserve

With an area of 3,719 acres (15.1 km²), Carver Park Reserve is the second-largest park reserve in the system. Located in Victoria, Minnesota, in Carver County, it features the Lowry Nature Center with interpretive programs, nine miles (14 km) of paved biking/hiking trails, 22 miles (35 km) of unpaved hiking trails, and nine miles (14 km) of horse trails. It is also connected to the Southwest Regional LRT Trail's northern branch.

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Cleary Lake Regional Park is located in Credit River Township, Minnesota, in Scott County. Its 1,186 acres (4.8 km²) contain a nine-hole golf course, an off-leash pet exercise area, and four miles (6 km) of paved biking/hiking trails.

Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The dam, for which the park was named, was built by Northern States Power Company in 1913 for electrical power generation. Power generation was discontinued in 1966, so the dam is now used for recreation. Anoka County operates a park on its side of the dam. There is a pedestrian and bicycle walkway across the Dam. It also connects to the Northern Corridor Trail, which stretches six miles (10 km) across Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove to meet up with Elm Creek Park Reserve.This park and the Coon Rapids Dam East, a walk across the dam, are sites for the National Parks Passport Program for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

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place = Mississippi River
bridge = Coon Rapids Dam pedestrian and bicycle bridge
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upstream = Anoka-Champlin Mississippi River Bridge
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downstream = Richard P. Braun Bridge
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Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Located in Hassan Township, Minnesota, Crow-Hassan Park Reserve has an area of 2,597 acres (10.5 km²), including 600 acres (2.4 km²) of tall-grass prairie. The park features 18 miles (28 km) of unpaved hiking trails, 11 miles (18 km) of horse trails, and an off-leash dog area.

Eagle Lake Regional Park

Eagle Lake Regional Park is located in Plymouth, Minnesota and Maple Grove, Minnesota and features a nine-hole golf course with a lighted driving range.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek Park Reserve, at 5,315 acres (21.5 km²), is the largest park reserve in the system and occupies portions of Maple Grove, Champlin and Dayton. It features 19 miles (31 km) of paved biking/hiking trails, 21 miles (34 km) of horse trails, and a five mile (8 km) mountain bike trail. It also has a popular sand-bottomed swimming pond and a creative play area. A regional trail system connects Elm Creek Park Reserve to Fish Lake Regional Park and Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. In the winter, portions of the 11 mile (18 km) cross-country ski trail system are served by snowmaking. They also offer a snowtubing hill and a small downhill ski/snowboard area featuring a small terrain park. The Eastman Nature Center provides interpretive programs.

Fish Lake Regional Park

Fish Lake Regional Park is located in Maple Grove and offers boat access to Fish Lake, as well as a swimming beach and four-season pavilion.

French Regional Park

Located on Medicine Lake in Plymouth, French Regional Park contains a popular creative play area. It also includes boat access to Medicine Lake. In the winter, it has six miles (10 km) of cross-country ski trails.

Gale Woods

Gale Woods, in Minnetrista, is a working farm featuring interpretive programs where visitors can learn about agriculture and land stewardship. It also offers canoe rentals for use on Whaletail Lake. The park also includes a barn-style pavilion overlooking the lake.

Glen Lake Golf and Practice Center

Glen Lake Golf and Practice Center is located on the boundary of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. It features a popular nine-hole golf course, along with a driving range and practice areas.

Historic Murphy's Landing

Historic Murphy's Landing, in Shakopee, is a living history museum featuring a number of restored buildings from the 1800s. Interpreters in period clothing show visitors what life was like in the pioneering days of Minnesota. The site is open to the public from Memorial Day through October, and available for school groups from April through December. It also offers a popular "Folkways of the Holidays" program in November and December.

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hyland Lake Park Reserve, located in Bloomington, features the Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, a downhill ski area with two terrain parks. The people of Bloomington have dubbed the creative play area within the park as "Chutes and Ladders" (pictured right). The ski area is popular for lessons and for its proximity to the metro area. On Hyland Lake at the playground there is a chalet with a concessions stand and tables and chairs. During the winter the chalet has cross country ski rentals. The rest of the park reserve's 1,000 acres (4 km²) contain nine miles (14 km) of paved biking/hiking trails, seven miles (11 km) of dog walking trails, and other unpaved hiking trails. In addition, the park features an 18-hole championship-level disc golf course playing along the ski slopes. The visitor's center offers boat and kayak rentals for use on Hyland Lake. In the winter, seven miles (11 km) of cross-country ski trails are offered, and some trails are lit for evening use. Hyland Lake Park Reserve also hosts Richardson Nature Center. The center offers live animal displays, interpretive nature programs and winter snowshoe rentals.

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park

Located in Minnetrista, Lake Minnetonka Regional Park is a relatively new park in the Three Rivers system. It offers a chlorinated sand-bottom swimming pond and a creative play area. It also provides boat access to Lake Minnetonka.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, in Greenfield and Independence, is a large park reserve with 2,577 acres (10.4 km²). It offers seven miles (11 km) of biking/hiking trails, 13 miles (21 km) of unpaved hiking trails, and a four mile (6 km) mountain bike trail. It also has a non-motorized lake for canoeing, rowing, and fishing. In the winter, there are 10 miles (16 km) of cross-country ski trails.

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, in Burnsville, Lakeville, Savage, and Credit River Township, features a hilly cross-country ski trail system and a six mile (10 km) hilly mountain bike trail. The mountain bike trail is probably one of the most challenging trails in the Twin Cities due to its long climbs and rapid descents. The park reserve, at 2,786 acres (11.3 km²), also includes 14 miles (23 km) of horse trails, as well as bird watching. It is the only known nesting site of the hooded warbler in Minnesota.

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens, located in Orono, is considered one of Minnesota's finest formal public gardens. It was donated to the park reserve by the estate of Frederick Noerenberg, founder of the Grain Belt brewery. The gardens are open May through October for tours, programs, informal viewing, and weddings.

North Mississippi Regional Park

North Mississippi Regional Park is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River on the border of Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center. It has a scenic view of the river and surrounding woods, along with a paved biking/hiking trail that connects to the Minneapolis trail system and to the Anoka County Park trails that go north to the Coon Rapids Dam.


Sliverwood is the park district's newest acquisition. Located on the northwest shore of Silver Lake in St. Anthony, it was formerly the site of the Salvation Army Silver Lake Camp. Development of the park is still pending, but it is open to hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking.


* Three Rivers Park District brochure, 2005
* [ Three Rivers Park District site]

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