by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
In the western part of Bloomington Minnesota over 1,000 acres of parkland act as the Twin Cities best destination for active families, recreational riders, and beach goers. The Hyland Park Reserve encompasses over 8 miles of paved bike path, A family friendly beach, breathtaking prairies, a Ski resort, seven miles of cross country ski trails, a spectacular playground, and countless other attractions. Read on to learn about what possibilities you could explore.
Biking Hyland Park
While not a loop, the trail system in Hyland Park is well laid out to get you to every corner of the park. However, there are small loops within the trail system. The trails in the southernmost part of the park loops around through dense forest and winds along the Hyland Lake. As you move further north, the trails navigate through the most developed portion of the park, passing the Shoots and Ladders Playground and the visitor center. While traveling north, Hyland park reveals it’s true beauty while sending you through vast prairies. In the northernmost part of the park, the trails pass under the shadow of the Hyland Ski and Snowboard area. Even though the trails pass through very different topography, they all are well maintained, relatively flat, and wide enough to offer comfortable riding for all ability levels.
Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area
The Hyland Ski area is a downhill ski area with two terrain parks, Ski jumps and a park featuring an 18-hole disc golf course. Through the winter, it is a popular place for lessons and cold weather sports for metro area residents. In the summer, the park periodically operates it’s lifts for mountaintop concerts, bonfires and general outdoor merriment.
Shoots and Ladders Playground
Tucked into the middle of Hyland Park is the most amazing playground you could imagine. It’s tallest 3 story tall tower soars over scores of other structures amassed to put your kids in a state of playground frenzy. Most surfaces are covered in soft rubber, woodchips, or sand offering safe areas for kids of all ages. The park is open to all two-legged creatures, but please leave your four legged friends at home. Additionally, when the mercury rises Shoots and Ladders has a water misting play area for the kids and enormous umbrellas over the picnic areas for he parents.
Richardson Nature Center
Hidden in the dense foliage of Hyland Park is the Richarson Nature Center, a stunning natural gateway for visitors young and old. After parking in their ample lot, stroll a few feet down the path up to the nature center. The center is a two story home to Raptors (upstairs) and amphibians (downstairs). They have classrooms and events in the center throughout the year for anyone looking to learn more about the ecosystem. One of the best parts of the Richardson Nature Center is the kids park they have cleared just down the path. In an open area of forest, kids can build forts and structures with deadfall collected from around the park.
Bush Lake Beach
While not technically in Hyland Park, Bush Lake Beach sits adjacent to Hyland. It is a man-made sand beach on the east shore of Bush Lake. The entrance to the beach just off East Bush Lake Road and just south of the Richardson Nature Center. Through the summer season, you can purchase a one day or season pass for parking. The Aquatic Center at Bush Lake Beach has a snack area and great bathroom amenities.
What is best about Hyland Park is the number of events it has. Throughout the year Hyland Park schedules outdoor and indoor fun for every kind of nature lover. I’ve enjoyed the “Movie Nights on the Hill” a few times and the 4h of July celebration is spectacular. I strongly recommend making the Hyland Park your first stop, when planning an outdoor excursion.
Find more information about this park and the many other fun activities Bloomington has to offer, here.