Eagan, Dakota County • No fee
Lebanon Hills Regional Park is loaded with over 20 miles of hiking trails, the vast majority being natural-surface trails for foot traffic only. This makes it one of the best parks in the Twin Cities metro for “real” hiking as well as trail running.
It’s quiet. It’s wooded. You’d never know you’re within just a few miles of the urban activity of downtown Minneapolis.
Helpful Folks in the Visitor Center
The very first plus of the day was when we walked into the Visitor Center to ask for a hike suggestion, one in the 3-4 mile range.
Without hesitation the woman at the counter pulled out the map for the Forever Wild Loop, which was already highlighted. “This is the one you want,” she said.
How easy was that?
Chalk one up for Lebanon Hills!
The Forever Wild Hiking Loop
This 4-mile trail is very well marked, as all their trails are, although I wouldn’t have wanted to be on it without the map. There are lots of intersections! These are numbered, but without a map you wouldn’t know which number to head for next.
The terrain was almost all wooded, rolling hills and alongside or overlooking several lakes. Lovely!
There are many other trail loops in the park besides this Forever Wild Loop. Each loop has its own map, available at the Visitor Center.
Keep an Eye out for Others
There are horse trails criss-crossing the hiking trails in the east section. And the hiking trails in the west section criss-cross mountain bike trails. So be aware of who’s around, especially at intersections and especially if you have young children with you.
Because the east section of Lebanon Hills also has a water trail, you may meet paddlers portaging canoes or kayaks along parts of the trails, too. They’ll appreciate you giving them right-of-way.
In the winter some of the hiking trails are kept for snowshoeing and some are groomed for cross-country skiing. Hikers and snowshoers need to stay off the ski trails, please!
Other Activities at Lebanon Hills
There’s a very nice singletrack park on the north end of the West Sector for mountain bikers, hikers and snowshoers. Otherwise the only paved trail for road biking is a short .5 mile stretch by the Visitor Center.
There’s a beautiful campground in the West Sector, too. 93 spacious sites from tent-only to full hookups. Some even have wi-fi.
Paddling is another popular activity at Lebanon Hills. You can rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards from the Visitor Center, or bring your own and launch Jensen Lake and take on their lake chain complete with portages.
In the winter months, cross country skiing is popular here, as well as snowshoeing, especially in the singletrack park.
Getting to Lebanon Hills Regional Park
Lebanon Hills’ property is adjacent to the Minnesota Zoo. In fact we just visited the Zoo last November and saw a fox running through the musk ox exhibit. There’s a good chance that fox lives somewhere in the 2,000+ acres of Lebanon Hills!
You can access the hiking trails from various trailheads:
- Main entrance and Visitor Center is off Cliff Road (just west of Dodd Road); east sector.
- Holland Lake Trailhead is off Cliff Road, take Lexington Avenue; east sector.
- Jensen Lake Trailhead off Pilot Knob Road; on the west end of the east sector.
- There’s some hiking in the Campground area; in the west sector of the park off Johnny Cake Ridge Road (and on the road’s east side).
- West Trailhead for the trails in the mountain bike park; west sector of the park off Johnny Cake Ridge Road (on its west side and a bit north).
Take a look at this brochure/map to find the best park entrance for your trail.