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Exploring Edenbrook Conservation Area

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The wooded Eden Prairie neighborhoods surrounding the Edenbrook Conservation Area hide this beautiful place from the rest of us. A drive around the encircling roads offers but a few glimpses of the wetland tucked within. To really experience this place, you'll need to get out of the car and into your hiking boots.

Edenbrook is an unassuming park. The trailhead's parking lot is small and doesn't have any amenities. Two paved paths and a dirt trail all head up the small rise. Starting here and continuing throughout the park there are no maps, trail guides, confidence markers or other thoughts on where to go (or how to get back). If you like to wander quiet undeveloped parks, this is a great one to visit.

Edenbrook doesn't have a trail design like you might find in other parks. It was designed for neighborhood access. There is a small loop in the middle with four point to point trails branching off like spokes from a wheel's hub. These trails end on city streets or in parks so following one to its end then returning to the center is the best way to explore.

Remember those three trails at the beginning? Pick whichever you like. They all lead up to an overlook that offers an expansive view of the wetlands. Just north of the overlook is a wide dirt trail and the way into the conservation area. It drops down a small slope and heads into the marsh on the first of many boardwalks that give access to the wetland. The boardwalk is short and the trail heads back into the forest. Turn right at the junction and continue through the woods. The next trail junction is at the "hub." Turn left and saunter for a short distance. Take the next left. This path shortly leaves the forest and enters a cattail marsh. A long and sturdy boardwalk offers intimate access through the tall and often dancing wetland grasses. You'll find avian friends fluttering about or perched carefully on the hardier plants. The boardwalk runs almost to County 62, your turnaround point. Return to the hub, turn left and follow the trail to the next junction. Go left again. This trail section is longer with an alternating mix of boardwalks and dirt trails. Along the way, a small rise provides another wide view of the park. The route meanders through the eastern part of the park and ends in a quiet neighborhood (practically in someone's backyard). Make a u-turn and follow the same trail back. You see the pattern. A left onto the hub trail and another left puts you on the final spur. This one is shorter and explores the southern edge of the wetland. Upon returning to the center, two more left turns will finish up this three-mile tour and put you right back where you started.

For more information:

Okay, there is a map of Edenbrook here. It is the 2005 conceptual plan, but based on my experience most of the proposed trails now exist and it is a reliable navigational tool.

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