Restoring the Prairie at Crow Hassan Park

Nestled on the eastern bank of the Crow River in Rogers and Hanover, the 2,600-acre Crow-Hassan Park Reserve is one of the wildest and least developed parks in the Three Rivers system. Nearly half of the park is restored prairie – making Crow-Hassan home to the largest restored prairie in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Restored Prairie

As a result of Crow-Hassan’s designation as a park reserve in the Three Rivers system, we are committed to maintaining at least 80 percent of the park’s land as natural habitat. For more than 50 years, that effort has involved planting and maintaining the prairie. Each spring Three Rivers’ staff conduct controlled prairie burns to help manage invasive species, increase native plant growth, and provide quality wildlife habitat.

Each fall, we also rely on volunteers to help collect prairie seed. Speaking from experience, these seed collection events are a wonderful way to experience the park and its prairie landscape while helping to collect seed that will be used to continue to expand the prairie at Crow-Hassan and other Three Rivers parks. In a typical year, more than 600 volunteers collect over 200 pounds of seed – a cost savings to the Park District of over $60,000.

Share the Trail

Crow-Hassan has a network of turf trails that are available for hiking, dog walking, and horseback riding (biking is prohibited). Group camp sites that can be used by equestrians also are available.

The popularity of our parks and trails increased dramatically last year as people sought opportunities to get outside and be active in nature during the pandemic. Anticipating that this increased use will continue, we’re taking steps to make sure Crow-Hassan stays a natural and enjoyable place for everyone who visits. An important part of this effort involves new “Share the Trail” signs we have placed along the trails that give guidance on how hikers, dog walkers and horseback riders should interact. When on the trail, all users should yield to horses. Additionally, the signs advise people to stop, sit their dogs, speak to the horse and rider and ask the rider how to safely proceed. We collaborated with the Mid America Paso Fino Horse Association to create the signs, and I want to thank the Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Rides Association for providing the trail grant to fund them.

Changes and Improvements

Due to the increased use of the park, this year we are again going to allow horse trailers and individual vehicles to park at the Riverbend Group Camp, which is located off Territorial Road west of the dog off-leash area entrance. When parking near a horse trailer, please remember that the rider needs space for their horse to exit and enter the trailer – so be sure to leave extra room between your vehicle and the trailer.

We also are planning to add a gravel parking lot for up to 40 vehicles near the main trailhead; we hope to have the new parking lot completed this summer.

And, we are working to stabilize 175 feet of the river bank at the Crow-Hassan dog off-leash area to help reduce the amount of sediment that erodes into the Crow River – improving the water quality of the Crow and ultimately the Mississippi rivers.

Whether you know Crow-Hassan as the hidden gem of the northwestern metro or it is a park you’ve yet to explore, I encourage you to visit the park reserve this spring and summer. The changes we’re implementing will welcome visitors to the park and will maintain the natural environment as the star of the show.

Marge Beard

Marge Beard represents District 1 on the Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners. She is a 25-year resident of Plymouth and credits her previous public service on the Plymouth City Council with helping her make informed decisions for our parks. Marge is an outdoor enthusiast and can often be found walking, biking, camping, skiing and golfing in our Three Rivers Parks.