Eden Prairie’s hike and bike trails become embraced by spectacular autumn canvases each October. As October cedes to November and Thanksgiving, the blazes become less bold but more nuanced and informing — more interesting. Hidden ponds, creeks, neighborhoods and vistas re-appear as leaves fall.
We can drop “Prairie” from our town’s name and just go with “Eden.”
Every one of our neighborhoods is supplied with welcoming trails and walkways. The following small list of trails is not intended to be an arbitrary ranking; it is a reminder for the car-bound among us to take a hike or ride a bike and to bring a camera.
Round Lake Park Loop and connector trail
The southwest arc of Round Lake’s mile-long loop trail can be a spiritual experience, sometimes necessarily shared with many others. Tall mature trees form a canopy over what may be our most popular paved trail. A paved connector trail winds westward through a woodsy and cozy neighborhood between homes and gardens to the straight and steep approach to the Mitchell Marsh Loop with more backyard gardens and native landscapes.
Staring Lake and Purgatory Park Loop trails
These two loop trails and their connector trail along Purgatory Creek accommodate cyclists and walkers. The 2.5-mile Purgatory Creek Park loop meanders through wetlands, willows and cottonwoods, edging a shallow lake with eagles and wading birds. The impressive span of the new Southwest Light Rail bridge and the Eden Prairie Veterans Memorial can be seen from the Jean L. Harris Gathering Bridge.
Our most cosmopolitan park ironically channels the Florida Everglades … before Jack Frost blows in from Canada.
The full spectrum of fall colors, however, is most impressive along the connector trail (.2-mile) and the Staring Lake loop (2.4 miles). This scenic, alternately forested and lakeshore loop is long enough to remind the legs, heart and spirit what the good life is really about.
Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area
This bluff country preserve on Flying Cloud Drive features the Elizabeth Fries Ellet Interpretive Trail. The trail features informative trail markers and a very steep stretch to a bluff-top prairie with panoramic views of the Minnesota Valley. There is a network of other trails that are a bit easier to walk, winding through tall basswoods, maples and oaks. Look for segmented snake grass where cold artesian seeps irrigate a glen or two.
Edenvale Boulevard Trail/Regional Trail Loop
A popular, unofficial bike, hike and leashed-dog walking loop in north-central Eden Prairie is formed by the Edenvale Boulevard trail and the Minnesota River Bluffs Regional Trail. The woodsy stretches of the Edenvale trail sport curvy, fun-on-a-bike, ups and downs and muscle stretching hills.
The trail also passes by lovely cul-de-sacs and streets that will lead you to, without a time machine, suburban America as we knew it in the 1970s.
The Edenvale Trail connects to the level, crushed limestone, regional trail near Birch Island Woods to the northeast and the Valley View Road access trail to the southwest.
The loop ranges from 2.7 miles to 3.3 miles depending on your whims. Both trails will be flush with autumn colors and smiles. So, too, will each of Eden Prairie’s neighborhoods.
The City of Eden Prairie website has much more trail information. Use keywords City, Eden Prairie or trails parks in your search.
Check out Jeff’s previous takes on other Eden Prairie trails:
EP trails and parks: A backyard cure for cabin fever
EP trails and parks Part II: Trail ‘staycations’ with lakes, celebrities, and nature
Contributing writer Jeff Strate serves on the EPLN Board of Directors.
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