Three Rivers Off-Leash Dog Parks: A West Metro Mini-Guide

It’s not like you can just follow the Poop Fairy around

Carver Lake
Carver Lake Reserve

If you’re in the West Metro with your pup and you’ve got a Three Rivers District park nearby, a pass is well worth the $45 annual fee. Let me put it this way: as most Twin Cities dog parks charge $5 per individual visit, I’ve already saved money with the pass this year.

Porter has been to four parks, peed on acres of trees, sniffed hundreds of arses, and ran dozens of dogs out of gas. He has jumped over two, and made one puke from exhaustion during a chase game. He’s gotten around, is what I’m saying.

Here they are, ordered by favorite.

Non-disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, as I don’t feel the need to seek compensation for telling you what my dog’s favorite parks are.

[caption id=”attachment_4899" align=”alignnone” width=”800"]

Porter Burst

Bryant Lake Regional Park, and the best shot I’ve ever gotten of him running.[/caption]

9.3 acres
Bryant Lake isn’t complicated: If dogs want to chase and try humping one another, there are two wide open spaces for that; if dogs wish to mosey down pathways and pee on everything sticking out of the ground, a long path outlines the park’s boundaries; or, if your dogs enjoy swimming, there’s a separate pond area … but hold that thought.

Pros: This park’s regulars are vigilant about upkeep, and generally polite. As they do at every location, the community self-polices the poo-plucking; but, at Bryant Lake, there are few hard-to-reach places for humans. That means no excuses!

Con: The lake on premise was green last year and looked like a giant lily pad. I didn’t let Porter near it. Straighten this out and you’ve got a flawless dog park, just about.

2016-02-21 17.19.22

27 acres
There’s a LOT going on at this park — squares, lines, and lakes everywhere! — but the off-leash is situated away from the bustle. It’s not too far from Lake Minnetonka, in case you want to purify yourself on the way out.

If you’d rather put the drink in you, chances are you’re passing Excelsior Brewing’s taproom to get here. Oh, and they allow dogs in the taproom? Why can’t everything be this convenient?!

Pros: Glorious views abound, from Lake Steiger on one side to the creepy Tim Burton trees on the other. The walk is a pleasure, for humans and dogs alike.

Cons: If you Google “Carver Lake Reserve” and don’t specify the dog park, you’re going to have a bad time. The dog park is on a different road entirely on the other side of the park. You need to enter from Park Dr. and Highway 5. When you get there, the parking lot is dirt. At this time of year, the parking lot is mud. Bring shoes you don’t cherish.

[caption id=”attachment_4898" align=”alignnone” width=”800"]

Fish Lake

On The Track at Fish Lake Regional Park[/caption]

6.7 acres
Fish Lake features the second-smallest off-leash park in the district. The dogs congregate in three sections: The Hill, which is a hill; The Track, a circular path at the top that encircles a patch of woods; and The Road, a wide trail that connects the gathering spots.

That’s not all there is to it, but these are where you’ll be 99 percent of the time.

Pros: For humans, if you want to exercise, but you don’t really want to exercise, running up The Hill is ample justification for playing hooky on Zumba night.

The layout also provides built-in measurement for those needing quick visits. You can get to The Track, walk two or three laps while your dog gets his or her paces in, and hit the road in about 20 minutes.

Cons: Getting up The Hill can be fiddly if it’s icy or muddy. The wooded patches within Fish Lake are tight, too, so if your dog wanders in there to poop … and everyone’s watching, too, so don’t think you’re just walking away.

Elm Creek

29 acres
Well, USA Today seems to think highly of this one (Thank you, Becca). Twenty-nine frickin’ acres, though! You brought flares in case you get lost, right?

Pro: Much like Carver Lake, sheer mass rules the day here. As of press time, the trails were coated in ice and the grassy areas were more like mud wrestling pits; but, once everything dries up, your dog will have tons to explore.

Cons: It’s slightly-less cumbersome finding this one than it is finding Carver Lake, but the lot is no less muddy if you come on a wet day. Bring seat covers, carry your dog, or enjoy prints on the upholstery. The centerpiece of this park is the body of water within, which does no good if you’re dog isn’t into that.

At 40 acres, this sucker dwarfs any other off-leash park in the district. It’s unfenced, though, and … did you know whippets will chase prey for miles? With an “S.” Keep reading: they are known to ignore the effect of a shock collar if they’re in pursuit. Someone else will have to report on this one.

Too far away.

There you have it.

Keep it clean. Pack it out.

STILL GOT TIME? You can read Porter’s rescue story, and about the beer he was named after.

Like what you read? Give Frank Haataja a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.