Tap maple trees, band birds, cycle trails: Regional parks offer abundant recreation, learning

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2022

9 people laughing while sitting on the grass in a park.The snow is melting, which means activity in our regional parks is heating up. The Met Council’s 10 regional parks agency partners have a wide range of new and exciting adventures planned for people of all ages this spring and summer.

Traverse through three-plus miles of new mountain bike trail or go face-to-face with a raptor. Enjoy the idyllic solitude of the great outdoors walking through a forest, paddling on a lake, or tapping a maple tree. You can even share your favorite nature experiences, have them published, and inspire the latest park designs.

Missing the snow already? Don’t worry — a new snow-making machine will have you on your skis or in the sled soon enough.

Connect with nature, share in the fun

The seven-county Twin Cities area offers incredible access to 56 regional parks, park reserves, and trails covering more than 56,000 acres. These parks allow residents to connect to nature, gain peace of mind, gather and play, and so much more.

In the first of our two-part series on what’s being offered at our regional parks this spring and summer, we’ve highlighted a few fun activities for you to enjoy throughout the metro region. When you visit, make sure to thank the hard-working staff at the park agencies who plan and operate year-round activities for more than 60 million annual visitors.

Anoka County: Mountain biking in the north metro

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Reserve (PDF) offers the north metro’s only specially designed mountain bike trail. Anoka County partnered with an experienced developer to enhance and transform several resident-created paths into a 3.5-mile manicured course designed for mountain bikers of all skill levels.

After a long day on the trail, head over to the renovated Bunker Beach Waterpark — the largest outdoor waterpark in the area — for a dip in its cooling waters.

Small child positioning a log onto a large pile.

Ramsey County offers variety of recreation choices

Programs featuring a new bike fleet, archery, fishing, paddle sports, and more will be offered at low cost or even free to residents this spring through Ramsey County Parks and Recreation.

The popular Tamarack Nature Center in Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park offers a host of options, including day camps, homeschool and family programs, and group events. Conveniently located at Tamarack, Discovery Hollow offers a great nature play area with play elements for building tree forts, climbing cliffs, making dams, growing plants, even crawling in a house built for hobbits.

In addition, construction begins soon at Battle Creek Winter Recreation Area, which will include the area’s first machine-made snow machine.

Share your stories and inspire design in Scott County

Spend any amount of time outdoors, and you’ll have many stories to tell. This is your chance to share them — and be recognized for helping others connect with nature. In collaboration with Scott County Library, Scott County Parks & Trails is requesting your best, most compelling memoirs to be published as part of a collection of stories that will serve as design inspiration for future parks and trails developments.

To help you and other prospective authors prepare submissions, Scott County is offering a free writing workshop at Cleary Lake Regional Park on April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to noon with teaching artist and author Jon Lurie. The deadline for nature story submissions is May 30.

A tree with a blue tab emptying into a large, covered bucket.

Tap maple sap, explore Coney Island in Carver County

Tap into fun by learning how to make your own maple syrup at the Maple Syrup Festival in Baylor Regional Park on April 2. Experience the full maple syrup process — from tapping the tree to boiling the syrup — with regional maple syrup experts and others with a sweet tooth.

Beginning in June, visitors can paddle by kayak to Coney Island in Lake Waconia Regional Park to explore the beautiful and historical location with Carver County Parks guides. Discover the truth about local legends and archeological findings while walking under the shade of picturesque maple trees. And don’t forget to register your family now for the fun-filled Minnewashta Mud Run in July.

Three Rivers Park District celebrates “Big Year of Birds”

Celebrate birds this spring at any of the 20 parks or 10 regional trails that comprise the Three Rivers Park District. The district’s “Big Year of Birds” program is about sparking curiosity and appreciating how birds connect us to nature in our own backyards.

Join trained naturalists and bird experts for activities of all kinds, including hikes, art installations, special events, field trips, workshops, and more. You’ll learn about the importance of birds in our ecosystems and the importance of being good environment stewards for these wonderful creatures and their habitats.

Visit all of our regional parks this spring and summer

The Met Council partners with 10 city, county, and special park districts throughout the metro area. We work with these agencies to:

  • Acquire and develop parks and trails
  • Protect natural resources
  • Provide outdoor recreation for public enjoyment
  • Ensure equitable access to anyone who wants to enjoy the parks and trails

Find a regional park

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