At 4,900 acres, Elm Creek Park Reserve is the largest of Three Rivers' parks. This park features amenities for almost every outdoor activity, including the Winter Recreation Area, Eastman Nature Center, miles of hiking and biking trails, a swimming pond, a huge playground and much more. Elm Creek is also home to a variety of wildlife such as eagles, sandhill cranes, deer, bluebirds, beavers, loons, Trumpeter Swans and hawks. If you are visiting for the playground, we recommend checking the Three Rivers Playground page for possible closures before visiting.
With nearly 5000 acres, you may want some help finding your way around. Download an Elm Creek Park Reserve Map here.
Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve
The nature center is nestled within the southern half of the sprawling park reserve. It contains hands-on exhibits for kids, live animals, a library and an indoor scavenger hunt. Kids might enjoy borrowing an exploration kit to tote along to the trails outdoors. These include things like binoculars, nature checklists, and additional information about the natural elements you might come across. Make sure to stop and play in the Nature Exploration Area!
Winter at Elm Creek Park Reserve
This park has both sledding and tubing hills for snowy days. Families can also ski, snowboard, snowshoe or kicksled in the park. For hiking after dusk, Elm Creek's Northern Lights Trail is lit after dark.
Swimming at Elm Creek Park Reserve
Elm Creek Swimming Pond offers a mix of pool and lake with filtered, chlorinated water and a sandy beach and bottom. Giant beach umbrellas provide shade. Other amenities include a changing shelter, concessions and bathroom facilities. A pass is required for ages 1 year and older. The pond is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. However, Lifeguards are only on duty at specified times. Passes are required for everyone over the age of 1 and cost $5.00 per person for a daily pass or $18 per person for a seasonal pass.
Historic Pierre Bottineau House
Located near the entrance of the park on the south end, the historic Pierre Bottineau house is only open for special programs and by appointment. This restored 1854 wood-framed house has been transformed into a mini museum of the life of frontiersman Pierre Bottineau.
About Pierre Bottineau & the History Of Elm Creek Park Reserve:
Besides having a library and a park in Northeast Minneapolis named after him, Who was Pierre Bottineau? Learn more here. Families can participate in public programs or schedule a visit to learn about him in a more, too.
Disc Golf at Elm Creek Park Reserve
One of three pay-disc golf courses in the Three Rivers district, Elm Creek's 18-hole golf course starts at the chalet and follows the cross-country ski trails, tubing hill and terrain park. The course features two par-4 holes and offers championship-calibre holes that demand distance as well as accuracy. Availability is dependent on the weather and the condition of the course. The cost of disc golf is $6/round or $45/season. If you are looking for a place to play free, check out Hyland Visitor Center or Lake Minnetonka Regional Park.
Family Archery at Elm Creek Park Reserve
This park is one of several that offers family archery programs. Skilled instructors teach families the basics of shooting safely and accurately. Range includes stationary targets and elevated platform. The program includes fun games for testing skills. Equipment provided.
The 30-acre archery range is on the northwest side of the park and can be used outside of special programs with the purchase of an Archery Pass at $6/day or $35/year. Supervised children may attend for free and do not need a pass.
Wildlife found in Elm Creek Park Reserve
This is a good park for birdwatching. With smaller kids, you may just want to start at the nature center, where the staff maintains bird feeders. Or take a walk and look for birds like red-tailed hawks, wood ducks and trumpeter swans. The nature center loans out adventure backpacks or you can use our Birding Checklist to create your own adventure.
Three Rivers Park District's Wood Duck Management Program maintains and monitors wood duck boxes at this park. Records show that nests in these boxes produce, on average, 8 ducklings in a year. According to Three Rivers, the best time to watch wood ducks, swans and other water fowl is in the spring and fall.
Three Rivers Park District launched the Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Project in 1966 and in 1968 the Trumpeter Swan Society was formed. Beginning with a single pair of swans, Minnesota now boasts over 12,000 birds. Elm Creek is one park where these birds build nests and raise their young. You may just catch site of Swans while visiting the park. However, Three Rivers asks park visitors to respect both the Trumpeter Swans and the park habitat by following all park ordinances, remaining on designated trails, not getting too close to the birds, and avoid feeding them.
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