This is a guest post from Danielle Lindblom of The Adventure Dog Blog.
If you’re looking for a great dog-friendly hiking trail in the South Metro, check out Jensen Lake Trail in Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Located in Eagan, this is a 2.6 mile loop around the beautiful Jensen Lake. Easy yet varied, the trail takes you along the lake shore, through the woods, and across boardwalks without expending too much energy. This is a great beginner hiking trail, and a nice relaxing stroll for seasoned hikers. Be wary of ice in the winter; you’ll want strap on ice cleats to stay safe. There is mud and minor flooding in the spring, but it’s still pretty — and it’s beyond gorgeous in the summer and fall.
There is ample parking in the lot, right off of Pilot Knob Road. If you choose the trail entrance right off the south end of the parking lot, be prepared for a steep downhill section before you meet the main trail. Another option is to walk over to the main building and take the short stretch of stairs to the trail. There’s a great overlook with picnic table at this end. Whichever direction you choose to take, you’ll have a wonderful hike. A perfect place to get away from it all without having to leave the Twin Cities. The trail skirts the lake on the west and south sides, then dives into the woods and returns via a dirt road on the east and north side. There are several stretches of boardwalk which make for a refreshing change of footing and help keep you out of the mud. Your dog will love the adventure of exploring new surfaces and maybe even dipping a toe in the lake.
If you desire a longer hike, connecting trails can extend your trek. Lebanon Hills Regional Park has many miles of trails to explore (it is 2,000 acres after all), and this is a great place to start. As you venture further from Jensen Lake Trail you’ll encounter mixed-use trails for cross-country skiers and horses, so be sure to stick to the paths marked for hikers — and as always, clean up and pack out any waste your dog creates.
Enjoy your time at the park, then head to a nearby dog-friendly establishment for refreshing sips and snacks with your pup. The nearby patio of Bald Man Brewing is a tasty choice, as is that of Cupcake/The Mason Jar (in addition to coffee and bakery items, they have a full food menu plus wine and beer).
The Quick Sniff
- Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park – Jensen Lake Trailhead, Eagan (map)
- Cost: FREE!
- Trail surface: Natural surface and boardwalks
- Environment: Birch forest, lake
- Degree of difficulty: Easy to moderate
- Cell phone reception: Excellent
- Parking: Small lots, no charge
- Dog rules: Dogs on leash. Pick up dog waste.
Danielle and her two Border Collies provide monthly free guided hikes around the Twin Cities and write trail guides and tips for adventure dogs. For more info on adventuring with your dog or puppy, check out The Adventure Dog Blog and The Adventure Puppy Club for positive, safe socialization experiences.