The Hyland-Bush-Anderson Lakes Regional Park Reserve in Bloomington encompasses more than six lakes and packs in a wide mix of nature across 2500 acres of rolling terrain. Lake Hyland Park Reserve is the largest and best known part of the full reserve, but hikers looking for a quieter experience might consider trying Tierney's Woods instead.
In contrast to Hyland Park's many amenities, Tierney's Woods is small and undeveloped. Its trailhead consists of a gravel parking lot and trail map (no water or restrooms). Its two miles of trail, however, are narrow and challenging. They come complete with natural obstacles, heart-pumping hills and boot-tripping rocks and roots. For a short and fun hike, this is an ideal choice.
From the trailhead, start left and keep left at the first turn. Note the long views. Buckthorn hasn't clogged this area as much as others in the metro so the forest bottom is open. The trail soon begins a sustained climb. Watch for rocks and roots. The hill tops out for a short flat section, but quickly starts to descend. The trail drops to a small pond then heads up again. A short but steep and eroded section offers the next challenge. The path evens out and improves, then continues uphill. In roller coaster fashion, the trail peaks, then rolls right back down again on its way to Anderson Lake Southeast (Anderson Lakes is three lakes connected by wetlands. They are named by relative location: Anderson Lake Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest.) The trail skirts the north end of the lake and exits to a grassy service road. Follow the service road north and keep your eyes left for the narrow entrance to Birch Trail.
Birch Trail gradually climbs above the lake before coming to a "Y" junction. Ease to the right (left will eventually connect to other park sections, but currently does not). Tall hikers will soon need to duck under a downed tree. The trail never peaks again, but meanders just below the hilltop. According to the Hennepin County Natural Resource Inventory, this part of the forest is one of the best preserved oak stands in the county. As the route wanders near the top of the hill, Anderson Lake Northwest is visible to the left (across highway 169). Birch Trail then descends and reconnects with the service road. Swing left. The trail splits just ahead. Choose left at dry times. It drops slightly and runs along a lively pond. A right turn climbs above the pond to keep your feet dry in wet conditions. Both return to the parking lot and the end of this adventure.