In nearby Burnsville, Terrace Oaks Park is nestled between 35E and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife refuge. With 230-acres of parkland and 2.5-miles of off-road biking trails, this park is great for the post-work commuter wanting an extra workout. Named for its stately oaks, the trail twists and turns through stands of mature oaks, maples, and aspen; tight switchback turns weave you through the thick forest; and encroaching roots and trees present never-ending challenges through the entire gravel-dirt track.
Though short compared to its sister park, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, what this park lacks is made up for with charm. Since most of the attention focuses on Lebanon Hills, this park sometimes lacks maintenance and becomes quite rugged. Except for the occasional eye-poker coming from the forest, this makes the trail a little more interesting and at times it feels like you are far away from civilization. Especially when the forest becomes thick and the light above fades away from the dense foliage above.
What Makes It Great
The 2.5-mile trail starts with a tight switch back and ends with a couple of long, steep downhills that open into wider gravel trails leading back to the beginning of the loop. Ranked for beginner to intermediate riders, what happens in-between is something you must find out yourself!
If you’re an experienced rider, Terrace Oaks Park is a still a great biking destination. The .6-mile Hebel’s Hollow offers riders a short, but fun technical route. Try your best against a gravely hairpin switchback with a steep incline and then a fallen log crossing or the tight downhill switchbacks strewn about the track. Generally, veteran riders will ride a few laps at Terrace Oaks as a pre-ride workout and then ride to Lebanon Hills, which is only 4-miles away, to get a more aerobic workout.
A common complaint about Terrace Oaks Park is that it is too short and lacks tracks with difficult problems that require technique. Though, there is a .6-mile track only meant for expert riders, these complaints ring true. But, there is always a positive for every negative, especially for the inexperienced rider, Terrace Oaks Park is a haven.
Usually less crowded, since most riding traffic migrated to Lebanon Hills within the last couple years, the 2-mile single track is the perfect place for beginners to practice and improve their techniques. There is a laid-back atmosphere at Terrace Oaks too, so don’t be surprised to see riders taking a breather or kids on BWX bikes while on the trail. Also look out for dogs off their leashes due to the hikers hiking the walking trails parallel to the off-bike trails. As a reminder, it is good to wear long-sleeves and eye protection while on this trail, since the trail can become quite narrow and branches reach over and can whack you.
Who is Going to Love It
Terrace Oaks Park is perfect for a post-work workout or as a one-day escape from the sprawling city. Whether it is for beginning riders wanting to improve their techniques or for experienced riders looking for a short workout, Terrace Oaks Park is a wise choice either way.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Terrace Oaks Park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m and the mountain biking trail is free to use. The trailhead starts near the tennis courts and hockey rink, which is at the northeast side of the park.