Dog Park Detective is an ongoing series in which Sidewalk Dog sniffs out the best parks in the Twin Cities metro. Check out the other parks we’ve investigated, and stay tuned for opportunities for your dog to be one of our Dog Park Detectives!
THE DAY: November 25, a blustery 17 degrees
THE DETECTIVES: Dozer, a nearly four-year-old border collie mix, and Itty Bitty, the 18-year-old Maltese/Poodle cross
THE PARK: High Bridge Dog Park in St. Paul
High Bridge Dog Park is a major favorite of St. Paul residents, and it’s easy to see why: conveniently located just outside downtown (with a killer view of the skyline), this park has some of the friendliest regulars in town. Not only are the people fabulous (everyone knows everyone else’s dog, but they’re still super welcoming to newcomers like yours truly), but the park is way more spacious than I was expecting.
Left: (Photo: SWD) Detective Itty Bitty in a coat
Perk #1: A warm welcome
It’s always a good sign when a dog park has it’s own dedicated parking lot. It’s also great when there’s a bathroom (even if it’s an outhouse) on site, and even better when the park provides you with extra poop bags for those times your buddy decides that once is not enough. High Bridge wins on ALL of these counts, so your first impression of the park is a fabulous one.
(Photo: Matt Holland Photography) Dozer sniffs a new friend, next to the waste bag mailbox at entrance.
Perk #2: The people
I know we mentioned them already, but the people at this park are awesome. They provide the water dishes, chairs, and plastic bags for communal use (score!) — and, what’s more, they know how to make sure the dogs are comfortable without hovering or micromanaging the dogs’ play. Rather than congregating near the park’s entrance (a popular move at many of the smaller parks), the humans and their canine companions tend to gather in the middle of the long field, which gives nervous dogs a chance to acclimate to their surroundings before greeting their fellow canines.
(Photo: SWD) Folks gather a good distance from the entrance.
Perk #3: All the space to run
High Bridge may not have the winding paths or sheer acreage of a park like Battle Creek or Carver Park, but it has a phenomenal, super-long field, perfect for racing, chasing, and fetching. Dogs careen over the packed earth, gaining awesome speed in ways they couldn’t on less even terrain. During our visit, Dozer sprinted from one end to the other over and over again, and a sprightly little cattle dog chased a ball to her heart’s content. If your dog loves to chase but your yard doesn’t quite have the space she needs, High Bridge is paws-down the place for you.
(Photo: Matt Holland Photography) Run, Dozer, run!
Perk #4: Small dogs welcome
One of the questions we get asked most is whether or not a given park has a small dog area. And at High Bridge, the answer is yes! Dogs less than 20 pounds are welcome in that area, but you do have to walk through the main park to get to it. During our visit, the small dog area didn’t have many visitors, so if you’re looking for a quieter dog park experience for your tiny buddy, High Bridge might be just the ticket.
(Photo: Matt Holland Photography) Hi, tiny friend!
Perk #5: The ambience
This may seem a bit strange to include as a perk, but our detectives were adamant (especially Itty Bitty, who is too old to really play and comes for the atmosphere): so much of what there is to love at High Bridge is the general vibe. The park is bookended by a high bridge on one end (omg, it’s the name of the park!) and the St. Paul skyline on the other, which makes you feel like you’re nestled into something both secret and grand. We’re also told that, in the summer, tall grasses grow along the park’s edges for a feeling that is distinctly not urban, yet right in the shadow of the city. Sounds amazing. We’ll have to come back.
So what do you need to know before going?
- License and vaccination required.
- No fee! Free to visit.
- Open sunrise to sunset. No lights.
- Fully fenced. 7 acres.
At top: Detective Dozer (Photo: SWD)