Summertime Together: Hyland Lake Park Reserve Play Area

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Nature Reserves that focus on the woods and lakes and streams and meadows make me smile.  Making up an adventure world full of princesses and ogres or rescue missions from the caves.  Playing in nature is the best playground.

However, there are times when you can’t replace the fun of a slide or a swing.  Again an adventure world can be be created across the bridges and ramps.

The Three Rivers Park District offers many different experiences from nature trails and beaches to wooded shorelines and working farms.  It offers live history and art.  It also offers playgrounds.  And really good ones at that.

In the month of August, we wanted to let you know about a few that we have experienced.

Starting In the South Metro

Located in West Bloomington is Hyland Lake Park Reserve of the Three Rivers Park District.  Winding your way long East Bush Lake Road through a maze of lakes and wetlands, you end up ending the area affectionately called Chutes and Ladders.

It is a gigantic play structure built up the side of a large hill full of climbing equipment, cargo nets, and slides: resembling the iconic board games Chutes and Ladders. This place is a hot spot for parents in the South Metro.  It’s just a few miles off 494 and fairly simple for anyone to find.  Even for me from the North Metro.  


  • It was free!  We didn’t have to pay anything to enter.
  • 3 large apparatuses for big kids to play on: 2 with slides (featuring a 50 footer) and one big spider web looking climbing jungle gym made from ropes.
  • 2 smaller systems for littler ones.  One was built for toddlers and babies.  I thought it was perfect for my 2 year old, and yet he would have nothing to do with it.  He wanted to be on the big kid devices.  The second system was for slightly bigger kids or for kids with disabilities.  It was a little less active and with smaller slides.  My 4 year old liked this one.
  • Swings, tucked up in the corner away from the climbing and sliding was an area to swing, and down by the toddler area, there were some sand diggers.  For those kids who needed a break from the high paced climbing world, there were opportunities to catch your breath.
  • The ground was covered with man-made petroleum-based materials.  Many kids were going barefoot.  (I tried to restrain my children from that particular decision)
  • 3 misters to cool yourself with or to soak yourself with just before your mother decides it’s time to go home!
  • A small section of a rock climbing wall.  The playland was on multi-levels and one way for the kids to get to a different level was to rock climb up a small wall. Personally, I positioned myself right next to this as I didn’t want my little guy to fall down the opening in the fence.

This was the original structure.  And while this is extremely fun (my kids played in this structure alone for over an hour), the added play areas give you so much more opportunity to play.

Some things to keep in mind.

    • They have tables set up around the perimeter of the play area and they are a good place for you to set your stuff.  To be able to keep an eye on your children, you really need to be on a higher level.
    • It’s not an ideal place to bring someone who is 7 months pregnant and have a conversation with her if you have a 2 year old who wants to try everything!  However, once he and his sister found the original structure to be a blast, we were able to keep a better eye on him  and not have to climb around ourselves.
    • While they have areas for babies and toddlers, the Hyland Play Area is designed for big kids. It’s important to keep that in mind when your 2 year old is climbing a ladder and preventing hyper-excited older kids from going as fast as they want to.  It’s hard not to get upset when they are saying, “Little kid!  Get outta the way!”  So have a plan.
    • This is a difficult place to leave.  What I did to prevent whining and crying was to keep half of their snack for the ride home.  They played for over 3 hours and were ready to eat so for once it wasn’t difficult to get them in the car.


It doesn’t matter what age you are.  This Hyland Play Area invites you to discover, explore, and simply play.


    In our school district there are 4 more weeks left of summer before school.  This may be a pretty long drive for you, but for a relaxed atmosphere and some great summer memories with your kids, you will never forget “Chutes and Ladders!”

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About the author

Gianna Kordatzky

I am married to the craziest, most awesome man I know. We have four kids–Ranging in ages from 5-10. You can learn more about my life as a mother and wife at .

I love to throw parties and be with friends. I love to read my Bible and grow closer to God. I love to eat and exercise. I have learned to love coffee.
And I could really use a nap.

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