Can we get lost in an Edina nature reserve? – Journal of the South West
Driving on the highways sometimes annoys me. There is never anything to look at except the cars and the road and an occasional volunteer tree hoping to escape over the wall of the freeway. Yes, I know, highways are designed that way – MnDOT wants to keep drivers’ eyes on the road and that’s a good thing. Last summer however, I was commuting between Hopkins and Edina and decided I needed a detour to escape the boredom of the roads. I took the next exit. It was a charming winding and hilly road dotted with small lakes that ran through a pleasant residential area. In most of my life living in the Twin Cities, I had never been on this road before. At a lighted intersection I looked towards open water and saw a long boardwalk and made a mental note to return there someday.
This “someday” happened last weekend. Needing a break from the noise and chaos of Minneapolis, I yearned for open space, peace and nature. If only I could find this walk. To trace my route, I used Google Maps and located a park nearby, north of Hwy 62 and east of Gleason Road. The Edina City Parks website posted a photo of bikers riding on a boardwalk in Bredesen Park. I put on my GPS and hit the road.
A small parking lot on Olinger Boulevard was located between two ponds and next to a small park with open toilets. Many ducks floated on the water, climbed on submerged branches and quacked.
A kiosk contained an overview map of the park. I walked the paved path past the entrance signage and came across a gathering of geese circling a peninsula jutting out into another pond. At a Y in the path there was a more detailed map of the terrain. A nature trail ran alongside a cluster of ponds while pedestrian and bicycle paths were located around the perimeter of the park. They were all about 2 miles long. Nine Mile Creek meandered through the park at the southwest corner, but saw no indication of a walk.
I took the path to the right and climbed a hill lined with willows and aspens in various states of fall colors. Normally I have a very good sense of direction and no difficulty reading maps. Somehow, when I walk into a park or natural area, I never seem to be able to follow the trail maps. But it was a much needed respite on gentle hills with water on one side or even two for most trails. Every once in a while there was another You Are There card, and I was never where I thought I was. Maybe this is a lesson nature is trying to teach me. It was mid-afternoon on a weekday. Saw a runner twice and two other couples walking. I knew I wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of Edina, so I sat on a bench and pulled out my phone. The Google Maps satellite view showed the trails and my exact location.
Bredesen Park covers 206 acres, just a little smaller than Lakewood Cemetery – not what I thought of death at all. I just hadn’t planned on going for a walk in the woods; I always wore thongs and didn’t have a jacket with me. I thought I was heading for a nice boardwalk, but there I was at the end of a park in the woods. Who even knew that there were woods in Edina? I enjoyed it though. It was truly a beautiful piece of nature in the city. I kicked the yellow leaves scattered across the trail and looked up at the gnarled branches of the poplars. Like a bright flashlight through the trees, I saw a white glow. An egret perched on a branch above the water gazed at its surface. I stood and watched for several minutes wondering if he was looking for a fish. Eventually it flew away and I realized I was back in the parking lot.
After leaving the park and heading back to Hwy 62, I saw the boardwalk again. It is located at the busy intersection of Gleason Road and Vernon Avenue, with no parking nearby. The Bredesen Park biking and walking trails continue through a residential area and eventually get you there, but it’s easier to park at Walnut Ridge Park.
We all have our own well-traveled paths and our usual stops. Try to take a different route next time. It is always possible to discover something new if you are open to it. And there is nothing wrong with getting lost every now and then.
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A nature trail wandering through woods and water. Walking and cycling trails connect to the promenade.
Or: 5901 Olinger Blvd., Edina
WALNUT RIDGE PARK
Parking closest to the promenade.
Or: 5801 Londonderry Road, Édine