The region’s vast network of parks and trails got nearly 48 million visits last year, an increase of slightly more than one percent over the previous year, and an increase of 11 million visits since 2006.
“Summer is the most popular time to visit regional parks, but they’re visited year-round,” said Emmett Mullin, manager of regional parks and natural resources for the Metropolitan Council. “Anytime is a good time to visit the amenities and activities that are part of the park system in the seven-county metro area. We’re fortunate in this region to have the wealth of natural resources and recreational opportunities that we set aside for leisure, fun, exercise, as well as wildlife habitat.”
The regional system includes 54 regional parks and park reserves, totaling 55,000 acres, more than 360 miles of interconnected trails, and 8 special recreation features, including Como Park Zoo, Gale Woods Farm, Noerenberg Gardens and Silverwood Park. The Metropolitan Council recently issued its 2016 annual report on park visits (44 pages, pdf).
The five most visited parks in the regional system
New regional trails
Three new regional trails were added to the system in 2016: Crystal Lake Regional Trail, Nokomis-Minnesota Regional Trail and Saint Paul’s portion of the Trout Brook Regional Trail.
If you need more information on where to find regional parks and trails, you’re in luck. The Council just issued a new Regional Parks Map celebrating the diversity of the people who visit regional parks and trails and showing the many activities that are available.
You can find the maps, free of charge, at regional parks and libraries, some cities and counties, some schools and stores, and other public places. They can also be ordered by leaving a message on the Council’s Public Comment Line at 651.602.1500 or emailing the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Regional Parks System is operated by 10 partner agencies, including cities, counties, and special park districts, which work with the Council to protect natural resources and provide outdoor recreation for public enjoyment. The Council provides long-range system planning, investment and coordination.