Are you looking for your new favorite park? Have you heard of Spring Lake Park Reserve in Hastings Minnesota? Let me just say, this park has something for everyone. Biking, Hiking, Firepits, Playgrounds, Archery Trails and the most stunning view of the Mississippi River you’ll ever see.
Spring Lake Park Reserve is a 1,200 acre park in Dakota County which is also part of the Mississippi National River Recreation Area. There are so many things to do in Spring Lake Park Reserve it will be hard for you to leave.
With a plan to spend the day in Hastings, I wanted to make sure we got to Spring Lake Park Reserve first. That’s because the morning light of the bluffs has one of the stunning views.
Little did I know that we’d spend most of the morning hiking and exploring all the park’s features. At only 40 minutes away from Minneapolis, it’s hard to resist another trip.
Things to do at Spring Lake Park Reserve in Hastings
Spring Lake Park Reserve has so many things to do, everyone will find a way to enjoy the park.
The main portion of the park sits atop Schaar’s Bluff overlooking Spring Lake. I had the opportunity to visit this park first in the Winter during the Metro Councils Winter Scavenger Hung.
There was no hesitation with the foot of snow sitting in front of me, I just kept walking right through it all to get a better look. That view is what called me back to Hastings this spring to share that experience with the family.
Schaar’s Bluff extends most of the way across the top portion of the park. Along it is a paved trail and well as river rotaries. Because of the high cliffs, it’s an optimal spot to view Bald Eagles and other birds of prey.
Spring Lake Park Reserve has more than just a few hiking possibilities. The most popular is the Schaar’s Bluff Trail. Starting near the parking lots, take the short-paved section to the dirt trail located near the playground.
It winds its way through the bluffs, to its edge past the parking area again, and then loops back. It’s about a 2.1-mile loop.
A secondary place to hike is the archery section. There trail is designed for those who want to shot, and therefore wider, and made up of crushed gravel.
Because you are on an archery course, it’s not advised to wander off the trail. Both loops are 1.3 miles. The overlook is the complete opposite of Schaars Bluff.
Situated riverside, you’ll have a new view of the river and there is a good chance, you’ll have the entire place to yourself.
If you just want to see the scenic viewpoint, you can take the first gravel trail, before the picnic area. The hike is .8 miles.
Through the center of the park is a section of the Mississippi River Greenway Trail. This bike trail will be 26 miles when completed, starting at Simon’s Ravine and going all the way to Levee Park.
They are still working on the last section of the trail, a two-mile section just west of Spring Lake Park Reserve. The section of the trail residing between the two portions of the park is 4.29 miles.
You can also continue on to the Lock and Dam #2 at 8.96 miles.
Located at the North Side of the park is a unique archery range. Each target has a different setup, some with towers, and some on the ground, all in varying distances and difficulty levels.
The targets each depict a different animal. Dakota County Parks require permits for those wishing to shoot.
To get to the other side of the park, using Google Maps and look for “Spring Lake Park Archery Range”. It will take you to the alternative entrance.
Fire Pits & Gathering Locations
One thing I love about all of Dakota County Parks is their open firepits, thought out the park. The firepits are all first come first serve but it makes for a great way to spend some time with friends and Spring Lake Park.
They are spread out throughout the park, and all have seating of some sort. My favorite one is located along the river, near the picnic area.
The park also has an extensive collection of pavilions, and picnic tables located along the bluff. It’s a perfect place to hang out and explore. Or find a green patch and throw own your picnic blanket for a casual experience.
Close to the picnic area and pavilions is a great playground for the kids to let loose. This playground has multiple sections for kids of all sizes.
How much does it cost?
Dakota County Parks do not charge admission for their parks. They do charge for specific trail passes, like Archery, Cross-County Ski, Dog Parks, Equestrian Trails and Waterfowl Hunting.
Don’t forget the Sunglasses
Do you ever have a favorite pair of sunglasses and then tragedy happens, the side snaps in two?
After two years of wearing my favorite aviator sunglasses being held together with superglue, my husband finally convinced me to get a new pair.
He found a pair for me at the LOFT online for pickup at the nearby store. They had them ready when he walked into the mall. He didn’t have to run around from store to store looking. It was so slick, and I got an early Mother’s Day.
Would I go back to Spring Lake Park Reserve?
Yes, I would definitely go back to Spring Lake Park Reserve. The biggest reason is to see the Bison Range they are planning to re-introduce to the area.
Dakota County Parks has spent a lot of time reintroducing the prairie into the park, and one of the important parts of keeping the prairie strong is through grazing animals.
If you are in the area or just looking for a new hiking experience, check it the things to do in Spring Lake Park Reserve.