Winter Fun at the Arboretum

I usually end up at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska each Mother’s Day (for tulips in bloom) and every fall (for changing colors and the Applehouse) for sure, but it’s a destination for all seasons. That’s why my family has a membership.

In the winter, when there’s enough snow, the arboretum is a draw for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. The arboretum features 11 miles of trails that allow visitors to enjoy more than 1,000 acres of woodland, prairie, wetland, and open fields.

Skiing at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum  Snowshoes at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

ski and snowshoe at the minnesota landscape arboretum
left photo by don olson, right photo by bob firth

As we received a few fresh inches of snow this week, the trails, which have been open to snowshoers so far this season, may soon be groomed for skiers (but you better check). Trails vary in length and skill level. There’s the Lost Pond Trail (0.7K, rolling hills), Green Heron Trail (2K, beginners, pretty flat), Ridge Trail (2.4K, more difficult, a few challenging hills), Arboretum Trail (3.1K, challenging with many hills), Spring Pepper Trail (3K, intermediate) and Snowshoe/Hiking Trail (6.7K, gently rolling trail). The basic rules: don’t ski alone (recommended), trails are open when Visitor Center is open, no hiking on groomed trails, follow signage and stay on trails, classic skiing only, trails are separated for skiing and snowshoeing.

You can also enjoy the arboretum by strolling the three-mile drive (closed to vehicles during winter) or stepping inside to dine and warm up in the Visitors Center (which has a great café). While inside, check out exhibits on display: Uff-da Palace featuring nature sculptures by Patrick Dougherty (in front of the Visitor Center, through April), Wild Green Things: The Art of Anne Ophelia Dowden from the botanical artist (through May 2), Explore, Experience, Remember with photography from Aboretum Photography Society members (through May 27) and Tiny Treasures: Fairies & Gnomes from Tonkadale Nursery (through March 4).

Mark your calendar for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Spring Expo titled Learning to Grow, Growing to Learn (from March 9-11) and get ready for spring with gardeners of all skill levels. Later this month, Living with Orchids explores the varieties of this beautiful flower (opens March 30). Visit the arboretum website for more info on exhibits and events.

For current trail conditions, call 612-625-9793. Grounds are open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Visitor Center, Gift Shop and Restaurant open Mon.-Sat 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission: $9 adults, free for members and visitors 15 years and younger.

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