At the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, there’s always more to explore. If you only visit the arboretum by car, or if you only meander around the pathways surrounding the Visitor Center, you are missing out on much of what the more than 1,000-acre resource has to offer.
When the bone-chilling winds of winter abate, put on your walking shoes and look for signs of spring while strolling more than 12 miles of hiking trails and walking paths on arboretum grounds. Some of the trails are clearly designated for hiking, while other informal walking paths take you through areas like the wildflower garden, restored prairie, the Maze Garden or Japanese Garden. “We’ve put a lot of effort into developing walking trails, so people can get out and walk rather than stay in the car,” Ed Schneider, arboretum director, says. “We want to encourage a more healthy experience for people.”
New or enhanced walking trails are only part of a much larger, grander five-year, 60-million dollar fundraising campaign that includes building a bee and pollinator research and education center, as well as making infrastructure improvements. “The arboretum is a Minnesota treasure,” says Schneider. “It has flourished phenomenally over a 56-year history and I [credit] its success [to] the generosity of Minnesotans.”
Donors have already generously given 45 million toward the goal, and some of those dollars made new walking opportunities possible.
This spring, discover a new part of the arboretum by getting off the beaten path and onto one of these walkways.
Hsiao Chinese Garden Walk
Experience Eastern peace and tranquility with this new garden walk, which is one of the crown jewels of the fundraising campaign. Construction is expected to be finished this summer. Chinese gardens offer places of solitude and reflection, but also have a more formal quality to them. This garden will be on Three Mile Drive, near the Shrub Rose Garden and east of the Harrison Sculpture Garden. The walk will wind around a wetland pond and existing weeping willows, plus include new plants of Asian origin. An ornate Chinese garden fence and an open-air pavilion are also being considered.
Three Mile Drive
This arboretum artery is getting a few improvements to encourage exploration in the gardens. Enjoy the quiet and serenity of nature without traffic until mid-April, when Three Mile Drive opens back up to cars. During weekends beginning at the end of May, you can hitch a ride on the 11-passenger solar-powered circulators. Then, you can hop on or hop off at one of the three new visitor stops to better explore the Home Demonstration Garden, Maze Garden, or the Sculpture Garden. Riding the circulators is free and offered on weekends between noon and 5 p.m.
Donor gifts breathed new life into the aging Bog Walk. By walking the half-mile trail, you can see a “glacial pothole” that is Green Heron Pond, as well as oak and maple woods that intermingle with wetland areas. The bog even contains living peat moss. New improvements include not only replacing the old walkway with a new boardwalk and making accessibility improvements, but also adding more interpretative signs.
Did you know the pine collection at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is known as one of the best pine displays in North America? Get up close and personal with more than 200 specimens, including the state tree. A donor stepped forward to create better access to the trees by creating a half-mile paved walkway near the Maze Garden. To access the Pine Walk, turn left off Three Mile Drive just before you get to the Dahlia Trial Garden and park in the lot.
Harrison Sculpture Garden
If you didn’t get out during the fall to see the final three pieces of artwork installed at the Harrison Sculpture Garden, then plan a stroll down the 750-foot paved walkway to see all 26 pieces this spring. The paved walkway offers a pleasant view, and the highest point of the arboretum and of Carver County.