Only 45 minutes northwest from downtown Minneapolis, Crow Hassan is the perfect escape for the dog-loving runner. With a total of 2,600-acres, this park features over 17-miles of running trails, 10-miles for dog walking, and a designated off-leash dog exercise area.
What Makes It Great
At first, you start on higher ground and are able to see the 600-acres of prairie fields in the distance. Within a few minutes, the trail begins to decline into a marsh covered in cattails. Veer left to run between the Twin Lakes, which depending on the time of year, host a family of trumpeter swans. Make sure to sneak-a-peak before you continue north towards the lowland prairie.
Run up a gradual slope until you reach a crossroads. Go straight and follow the pencil-straight trail through the lowland prairie. Halfway along the trail take a right and workout your glutes until you reach the highest point in the reserve. Take a breather and enjoy the best view of the park. From this perspective, Crow Hassan evokes the image of what central Minnesota once was; an everlasting lowland prairie dotted with the occasional lake and marshland. If you’re lucky, a bald eagle or hawk may grace you with its presence.
Turn left at the next fork and enter the hardwood forest that borders Crow River. During a hot summer day, the shade from the tall oak trees will respite you from the scorching sun. In this portion of the trail, you may feel as if you’re the only person around. This is because not that many visitors explore the northern most point of the park. Make sure to unplug your ear buds and enjoy the sounds of nature. Just off the trail you can hear the running water of Crow River and offering a second wind, the robins inspire you to run faster with their upbeat birdsong. If you run quietly, you may even spot some wildlife, such as deer, fox, or a coyote. Continue following the river and if you start getting tired, there are opportunities to cut your run short by taking a left at any of the trail exits.
If you wanted to bring your dog along on your run, there are designated dog-walking trails mostly in the northeastern part of the reserve. The trails weave in and out of forest and prairie until you reach the off-leash dog exercise area. If you have a permit or paid the $5 fee, take a break from your run and give your puppy the opportunity to socialize with its fellow canine companions.
Who is Going to Love It
If you enjoy walking through mile upon miles of prairies, then Crow Hassan Park Reserve is the place for you.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., it is free to enter and park your car as a hiker, runner, or dog walker. If you plan on entering the off-leash dog exercise area, you must pay a daily fee of $5 or pay $35 for the annual Three Rivers Park District Pass. If you didn’t bring you dog, once you have parked your car, head north. You will notice that the trail is mostly made of muddy grass and sand, so watch your step, especially when going down the steeper trail sections. Also, be mindful of horseback riders that share the trail. They have the right-of-way, so step aside or approach calmly so to avoid spooking the horses.