Trail:  Elm Creek Park (Three Rivers Park District)

Description:  Two large loops through nature areas within the park reserve in the northwest portion of Maple Grove.  The northern loop is flatter.  Trail is completely inside the park with minimal road crossings. (Watch out for gravel road crossings on the northern loop.)

Getting There:  There are three major trailheads for the park.  Parking is now free in Three Rivers Park District parks.

Main Park entrance and office: 
This entrance also serves as a trailhead for the Northern Corridor Trail
Highway 169 north past I94/694
Turn left on Highway 81
Continue 1.1 mile beyond County Road 30 (93rd Ave)
Turn right on Territorial Road and follow signs into park.

Eastman Nature Center: 
Highway 169 north past I94/694
Turn left on Highway 81
Continue 2.1 mile beyond County Road 30 (93rd Ave).
Turn right on County Road 121 (Fernbrook Lane.), continue 1.2 mile.
Turn right on Elm Creek Drive, continue 0.7 mile
Turn right into park entrance

Champlin Ice Forum (free)
Highway 169 north past I94/694 and Highway 81
Turn left on 120th Ave.
Turn right at T (Champlin Drive)
Turn left at next street (Ensign Ave)
Turn left into parking lot and park in northwest corner.

Length:  Northern and southern loops are 10 miles long each.  There is a 1 mile section that is shared by both loops.  The southern loop has a cross path in the middle that divides it into an east loop and a west loop that are approximately 5 miles each.

North loop:  Easy and hilly -- trail was built to current ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines of no more than 5% grade.  There are four road crossings (some gravel).
South loop:  Intermediate to advanced.  The older ADA standard that was used allowed 12% grades.  The west half of the south loop has some hills that are steeper than that standard.  There are a couple locations where the main drives in the park cross the trail. These loops were reconstructed in 2004.

Popularity/Number of other users:  The north loop is less used because of its length and the lack of facilities along it.  Bikers primarily use it.  The south loop has moderate use and adds hikers into the mix.

Surface conditions: The north loop is a few years old and in very good condition.There are 4 road crossings and 3 wooden bridges to negotiate. The south loop is newer and in excellent condition, very smooth. There are 2 road crossings and 3 wooden bridges to negotiate.

Water:  The trail heads at the main park entrance and the Eastman Nature Center both have permanent facilities with permanent toilets and water.  The main park building also serves some food.  There are a couple of hand pumps also along the south loop.  There is no water along the north loop and there are a couple portable toilets along it.

Scenery:  Great This is one of the Twin Cities larger parks and wildlife preserves.  For most of the trail, you can forget that you are in the metro area.

Nearby restaurants:
From the Ice Forum lot - Ruby Tuesdays on the east side of 169 south of 120th.

From the park entrances - Many places on Elm Creek Blvd in Maple Grove
South on 81 to County Road 30 (93rd ave)
Turn right (west) on 30 (continue 1 mile)
Turn left (south) on Elm Creek Blvd
Many places 1-2 miles ahead.

Other nearby trails: The Northern Corridor Trail connects directly to the east of this park and heads east to the Coon Rapids Dam. At the southwest corner, a newly developed trail connects to the Rice Creek trail system in Maple Grove and eventually heads south to Fish Lake Regional Park.

Comments:  The scenery is the best reason for using this trail.  The north loop has enough distance without interruptions that speed skaters can open up on it.  The south loops is enjoyable but challenging with the hills and the higher traffic volume.

Park web page Three Rivers Park District  


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