Getting there: From downtown Minneapolis, head south on Hennepin Avenue to Lagoon Avenue. Turn right (west) on Lagoon and go 5 blocks. Lake Calhoun will be on your left. There is a 2-way parkway around Lake Calhoun with numerous free parking areas. There are also 3 parking lots that charge $.25 per hour. Lake Harriet is .3 miles south of Lake Calhoun and is connected by the William Berry Parkway. The Parkway around Harriet is 1-way counterclockwise. There is also free parking along the Parkway. There is a parking lot located at the northwest end of the lake next to the Amphitheater and Concession Pavilion, but this is now a patron-parking only lot.
Length: Lake Calhoun has a 3.1 mile loop and Lake Harriet is 2.8 miles around. The direction of travel on both is clockwise.
Difficulty: These trails are easy. The Lake Calhoun trail is flat whereas Lake Harriet has 2 baby hills that most advanced beginners can handle easily. Both trails are wide enough for traffic to pass safely. There are two sets of trails: one marked for bikes (which is also the one that skaters should use) and one marked for pedestrians only.
Popularity/number of other users: Mondo popular! On a great weather day the trails are wall-to-wall people skating, biking, pushing strollers and even pedestrians who don't know or care that they have their own trail. The Parkways are bumper-to-bumper with cars and motorcycles. On a bad weather day, who cares about skating?
Surface conditions: The surface quality is generally good, though it has been several years since the trails were last repaved. There are some dips and divots in the asphalt on the southwest corner of Lake Calhoun.
Scenery: Mondo scenic! The greatest safety hazard is the distraction caused by people-watching rather than watching where you are going.
Water: There are fountains around both lakes. Each lake also has a concession stand that is usually open between June and July.
Other nearby trails: Immediately north of Lake Calhoun is Lake of the Isles and that, in turn, connects to Cedar Lake. The Cedar Lake trail follows the west shoreline and has a newly repaved surface (as of June 2004). Lake of the Isles has a complete loop (see separate review). The Midtown Greenway trail runs north of Lake Street, and can be accessed via Dean Parkway or the parkway east of Lake Calhoun.
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