Camping at Three Rivers


With Spring just around the corner, I wanted to remind you that Three Rivers offers a wide variety of camping opportunities from camper cabins to RV/tent/camper and even bike-only sites. Be sure to check out this link to explore all your options, and then reserve a cabin or site on our new registration system!

As our newest offering, Lake Auburn Campground now offers bike-only sites for those pedaling along Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail. Amenities include a commons area with a fire ring, picnic tables and bike rack. These sites are first-come, first-served.

We offer a variety of group camping options, and exciting programs like naturalist sessions and holiday event weekends. You can also take advantage of watercraft and bike rentals for your stay, and a host of equipment like GPS units, disc golf, volleyballs, etc. I hope you can join us sometime!


Community engagement update

xxxxx__2008.jpgA group of 40 individuals from Dar Al-Farooq Community Center in East Bloomington, one of our partner organizations, recently visited our Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement for an overnight trip. Three Rivers staff greeted the group in the Lodge when they arrived on Friday, helped with cabin fires, and played a few ice-breaker games as others gathered around the campfire outside. Saturday morning was met with questions from the kids regarding animals in the area and inquiries on the day’s activities. We led a wilderness survival skills program with many who enjoyed fire building.

As another example of our increasing outreach efforts, we'll be hosting the Spring Break Explorer Camp in Crystal, where the full schedule will include learning about birds, habitats and ponds. Participants will have an opportunity to meet an animal, enjoy a recreational activity, create some art, and interact with the outdoors each day. Reconnecting our kids with Nature!


Rennet Nordic & Fat Tire Bike Races

xxhxxx__2008.jpgOur signature winter Rennet Races at Hyland Lake Park Reserve continue to grow, with nearly 1000 participants this year, and well over 1,000 spectators who attended over the two-day period! In all, eight events featuring 18 different races took place. As the Rennet grows, our partnerships also continue to evolve and expand. This year, we welcomed Minnesota Youth Ski League and Skijor USA.

The Friday Night Lights high school Rennet was spectacular this year. A total of 465 high xxxxx__2008.jpgschool athletes from around the state came to Hyland for a mass start race focusing on boys’ and girls’ divisions in skate and classic nordic ski techniques for junior varsity and varsity racers. The park was filled to capacity with coaches, parents, friends, and athletes watching the racers compete. Highland Park High School (St. Paul) won both the boys’ and girls’ varsity this year, beating out the Lake Conference schools. It seems fitting that Highland won at Hyland!

xxyyxxx__2008.jpgThe lights and excitement Friday night gave way to a Saturday race day that featured 481 participants taking part in a variety of races including a 22K ski, 10K ski, kids’ races, para races, skijoring and fat bike races. People came from seven states and Canada to participate. The out-of-staters commented how Hyland is a "jewel," and the community is fortunate to have such a resource in the Twin Cities metro area!


Three Rivers hosts MN's Inaugural Nordic Ski Opener!

xxxxx__2008.jpgThe inaugural Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener at Elm Creek Park Reserve was a huge success! An estimated 3,000 people attended over the course of the day. Three Rivers was honored to host the event, and we received an official proclamation from Governor Mark Dayton. Following the short program, Goldy Gopher led a mascot ski with four high school mascots. Our staff did an amazing job readying the tracks, providing nearly 500 ski packages and hundreds of mini-lessons to new skiers. Continuing our commitment to outreach, first time skiers included about 70 participants from Outdoor Afro, Outdoor Latino MN and Kwestrong Indigenous Women’s Wellness. Each of the groups are exploring additional options for continued winter fun at Three Rivers in the coming months, and we’re sure to see many of them back on the trails!




Nine Mile Trail fully opens this Spring!

44DA6C5B-75EF-4963-BF5B-BF886B86CAB4.JPGOur signature Nine Mile Creek Trail will be fully open this Spring! The eastern segments through Edina were finished last year, and were opened last Spring. After federal funding was secured for the western segments from Tracy Avenue to 169, trail paving and the new pedestrian bridge over Highway 62 was completed. The boardwalk between Duncan Lane and Londonderry Drive was completed, and trails within Bredesen Park opened.

Trail and road construction and striping on Gleason Road between Vernon Avenue and Bredesen Park was finished, and sign installations and temporary cover of exposed soil completed for the Winter. Final turf restoration will be completed this coming Spring. The final boardwalk segment between Walnut Ridge Park and the Vernon/Gleason intersection was built during the Winter once the wetlands were sufficiently frozen. That means, the entire Edina segment of our 15 mile trail will be fully complete and ready for use by Spring 2018!


As these photos from last Fall show, the recently completed boardwalks through Edina's wetlands are receiving rave reviews for their beautiful scenery! When fully open, the trail will span the cities of Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield, and Bloomington, and connect to the Lake Minnetonka LRT, Minnesota River 


Bluffs LRT, Cedar Lake LRT, North Cedar Lake, and Nokomis-Minnesota River Regional Trails as well as the planned Minnesota River State Trail, Dakota County Big Rivers Regional Trail, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Bloomington Visitor Center, and Fort Snelling State Park.

C6AA93E7-646B-4368-96FB-D9B7416C0DCE.JPGThe Minnetonka Bike Club couldn’t wait for everything to be finished! This past Summer, they rode the entire length of the trail - with a few detours around construction zones. Their reaction: “The trail is gorgeous, with a loooonnnnngggggg boardwalk through the creek wetlands, which were still bright with wildflowers . . . Three Rivers Parks did an awesome job! We can't wait for the rest to be finished.”



Giving & Making Snow

Give to the Max on November 16!

camps.jpgPlease consider supporting our Three Rivers Foundation on Give to the Max Day, November 16. You also have the option of scheduling your gift now, and it will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $11,000. All proceeds support two of our important outreach programs:

Adapted Programs. These programs provide opportunities for people with disabilities, including veterans, children, and seniors, to participate in outdoor programs like kayaking, mountain biking, archery, skiing, photography and more.
Explorer Camps. These outdoor day camps take place in communities where they are needed most. Children in these underserved neighborhoods are introduced to life-enriching outdoor activities like fishing, biking, canoeing, kayaking and nature exploration.


If it’s November, we're making snow!snow.jpg

The Three Rivers ski season is officially underway! Signup today for our popular Snowsports Academy, and start waxing your bases. Hyland and Elm Creek offer guaranteed snow, so be sure to check our Three Rivers website for classes, hours and conditions.

Nordic_Ski_Opener_-_kids_photo_0.jpgEmbrace winter by celebrating cross-country skiing at the inaugural Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener on Saturday, December 9 at Elm Creek! Skiers of all abilities and ages are invited to kick off winter with free skiing, rental equipment and mini lessons. Ski on your own or participate in the numerous Rennet Ski Tour events.


“Folkways of the Holidays” at The Landing

Landing_-_Folkways.jpgDiscover the holiday traditions of 19th-century Minnesotans at The Landing in December! You can watch folk art performances, ride a horse-drawn trolley, and tour homes with culturally-distinct decorations and crafts. You can also check out our latest restoration – the Oliver Faribault House, which is a distinctively French-Canadian log home, like the abodes of my Gunyou ancestors! Here’s a fascinating description of the five year process we went through to restore this landmark.


Fitness, Art & Outreach

With Fall in the air, check out this link for a sample of our Fitness, Art & Outreach activities as we wrap-up Summer.

fitness.jpgMinnesota’s First Challenge Fitness Course.  We had perfect weather and a great turnout for the fitness2.jpggrand opening of a new fitness challenge course and fully-inclusive adaptive play area at Schaper Park in Golden Valley. This unique facility was the latest in our partnerships with cities to expand service in first tier suburbs. Here’s the standard ribbon-cutting pic with all the appropriate officials - and most important, the kids who couldn’t wait to try out the new challenge course!


art.jpgLayered Lines Gathering Space at Eagle Lake.  Three Rivers recently acknowledged the generosity of Tim Huebsch who donated funds for a new gathering space at “the Point” in Eagle Lake Regional Park on the border of Plymouth and Maple Grove. The piece, named Layered Lines and designed by Twin Cities artist Korrin Lohmann, aims to promote community and gathering.


outreach.jpgCommunity Engagement Update. Be sure to check out this link for an update of our outreach efforts to connect more people of all ages with our parks and trails. So far this year, we have reached nearly 30,000 people through 500+ programs, activities and events focused on 11 first tier communities: Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Edina, Golden Valley, Hopkins, New Hope, Richfield, Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park. Here’s some of what we’ve been doing:outreach2.jpg

  • Parks on the Go van – playground groups, mobile home communities, adult-based programs, community festivals and events, etc.
  • Explorer Camps – Nineteen camps took place in 2017, up from 9 in 2016. The number of participants grew from 75 to 283+ in one year. Senior Explorer Series programs are planned for this fall, as well.
  • Partner Programming – libraries, schools, senior living facilities, race and cultural-based affinity groups, food shelves, watershed districts, etc.
  • Bike Fleet – Three Rivers and partner programming made bike programs and biking lessons available to 1,000 youth and adults.
  • Kids Task Force – Engaged 3rd graders from a Brooklyn Park elementary school in the design process for the new French play area. The same kids will be involved from concept to grand opening and are learning about the many jobs available in Three Rivers.
  • Camping Gear Library – Launched a program to make camping gear, training and education available to groups at no cost. 

Environmental research

An important aspect of the Three Rivers mission is to advance scientific research into various environmental issues. Here are just two examples of our commitment to responsibly manage the natural resources entrusted to us:


Restoration of native lake plants

xxxxx__2008.jpgThree Rivers is participating in the experimental transplantation of native aquatic vegetation in cooperation with the Minnesota DNR. Native vegetation is being harvested from lakes with no invasive species to lakes which would benefit from more native plants. Plantings recently took place in Hyland Lake and Lake Rebecca, which had been previously treated to reduce the amount of invasive curly-leaf pondweed in order to improve water quality and native plant regrowth.

To establish the most effect method of transplantation, we are testing two methods: one where the plants are tied to burlap and the other where the plants are planted individually. The species we are introducing include: flat-stem pondweed, large-leaf pondweed, water stargrass and fern-leaf pondweed. Our Water Resources team will continue to monitor the sites to determine the success of the plantings.


Lake turtle research

Medicine_Lake_turtles_1471989581567_5775218_ver1.0.jpgCheck out this KARE11 story on our lake turtle research! For the past two years, Three Rivers and the University of St Thomas have been following three types of lake turtles to better understand their habits: spiny softshells, painted and snappers. Among our initial findings: spiny softshell turtles are the most active, sometimes moving across the entire lake. Whereas the painted and snappers are found throughout the lake, individual turtles might only use an area the size of an average house.

Knowing these kinds of characteristics is important, because it may help determine where they nest in the early summer and lay their eggs. With changing ecologies, there isn't as much sand as there used to be, so there are concentrations of turtles nesting in certain areas, which have a good protected sand beaches.

To conduct the research, each turtle is equipped with a radio transmitter so they can be tracked. Funding for the research comes from the Minnesota Environment and the Natural Resources Trust Fund, and what we learn will be used to educate the public on such issues as how to protect nests or how homeowners can work on their shoreline to make it helpful to the wildlife in the area. Any improvements to the turtles’ habitats will help ensure healthy populations in the future. 



Summer 2017 Update!

trail.jpgBasset Creek Trail is finished!

Our Bassett Creek Trail is now complete from French Park to Golden Valley! In addition to French Park, the trail connects with our Medicine Lake Trail, local schools and businesses, Northwood Park in New Hope and Valley Place and Bassett Creek parks in Crystal. Here’s a link for more information.


community.jpgJust one week of community engagement!

In just one week of community engagement, Three Rivers teams visited six Brooklyn Park Mobile Recreation locations on Monday and Thursday, a Brooklyn Center Community Center camp on Tuesday, a St. Louis Park Playground program on Thursday, and three Bloomington Park Playground sites on Friday! On Wednesday, we also had one team working with the Explorer Camp students in Edina, and another crew leading a puppetry program with students at a Dayton mobile home community serving nearly 250 families! On Thursday night, our Parks On the Go van and bike riders participated in the Earle Brown Days Parade in Brooklyn Center, at Hyland on Sunday for a 5K hosted by our partners in the Kenyan immigrant community! Here’s a link for more information.


owl.jpgA raptor success story

Click on this link to read a wonderful story resulting from our long partnership with The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. This success story involves Three Rivers providing a barred owl nesting location where young fledgling owls could transition to independence and still receive parental care.



Down on the Farm!

I grew up with a host of farming relatives, but most kids now-a-days have no exposure to farm life. Check out this great video about Three Rivers' working farm at Gale Woods, and the many educational activities we have available for families and groups.


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John Gunyou
Three Rivers Parks Board Chair