The Day: May 3, a gorgeous sunny morning, following five days of rain
The Dogs: Rosie and Brick, English bulldogs
The Park: Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park, off Hiawatha and 54th in Minneapolis
The Amenities: Paved parking lot (payment required), outhouse at entrance, garbage cans available.
This dog park has been nicknamed “Doggie Nirvana,” and it’s easy to see why: great walking paths, tons of trees for dogs to sniff and then claim as their own, and open access to the Mississippi River. While it doesn’t have the sheer acreage of Carver Park or the fenced-in water options of Battle Creek, if you’re a Minneapolis city slicker looking for a place where Rover can get in touch with nature, this is the park for you.
Sidewalk Dog Editor’s Note: This six-part series celebrates some of the Twin Cities finest dog parks just in time for summer. If your favorite park didn’t make it this year, review your top spot in our directory so we can feature it in 2015.
The off-leash part of the Minnehaha Park is a good ten-minutes’ walk beyond the entrance fence, which means you’ve gotta keep your furry friend leashed for the first part of your jaunt. But it also means that there’s no crowd of dogs guarding the gate, so your entry is almost guaranteed to be stress-free. Yip yip hurray!
Rosie’s first move was to run full-speed (which, it must be said, didn’t exactly break the sound barrier) into the river. She loves hanging out in the shallows and cooling down after the long walk from the parking lot. Perfect for her, but depending on whether or not you remembered to bring a towel for the backseat, not so perfect for your car. Also, before you come, think about whether your dog is a good candidate for river-swimming: the current can be strong, and there’s no fence.
Right: Brick and Rosie on the case
You won’t think about the fact that all the paths are made of dirt when you arrive — but you’ll catch on fast once your dog gets out of the river and creates herself a mud coat! But what do you care? Look how happy she is! And besides, the park more than makes up for the dirt by quickly drying out after a rain, and the dogs love the feeling of dirt beneath their feet. You’d be hard pressed to find a better Minneapolis park for a dog to be a dog.
A word of warning, SWDers: because this park is river-adjacent, the park shrinks in size when the river is high. Rosie and Brick’s dad Joel Thibert, a Minneapolis resident and frequent visitor to the park, tells me that we missed out on a beach, a peninsula, and a long stretch of trail — all underwater from the long days of rain preceding our visit. [Editor’s Note: If you’ve got the scoop on the park’s other side, leave a comment. We’d love to know what we missed!] On the upside, the park takes on a bit of an otherworldly quality when it’s wet, which is pretty spectacular.
So what do you need to know before going?
- Permit, rabies vaccination, and license required. (Minneapolis residents, buy your licenses through Sidewalk Dog and get free stuff: a free dog wash from Ollu Dog Wash & Grooming, free daycare at Metro Dogs Daycare & Boarding, and free snacks from Raw Bistro. So many ways to win!)
- Open from 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
(All photos credit: Sidewalk Dog)