Donie Galloway Park / North River Park
Location: Champlin, MN
Management: City of Champlin
Trail Surface: Grass, Dirt. Well-groomed.
Environment: Open grass fields, River, Deciduous Woods
Degree of Difficulty: Very Easy, all level ground
Cell Phone Reception: Excellent
Parking: Plentiful, no charge
Dog Rules: Dogs on Leash, Pick up Waste
All the BEST Things!
There are many reasons why my dogs' absolute favorite place to go is Donie Galloway Park, and it sounds something like: run, run fast, swim, splash, retrieve, run some more, fetch, swim swim swim, and roll in grass. Simply put, this is a doggie paradise!
This park has two parts: huge, open grass fields and the Mississippi River. It is a long, rectangular park with fields bordering a small patch of woods that in turns borders the river. The trail itself goes from the parking lot, along the riverbank in the woods, and returns on the border between the fields and the woods. If you take the trail, it is about a mile-long loop and takes less than an hour.
Wide Open Spaces! I've visited and taken the trail to let my dogs have a good swim, and I've also simply taken a walk in the big open fields or played a nice game of frisbee with the dogs. Most of the time it is sparingly visited, and you can sit in the grass soaking up the sunshine without seeing another person. It really is the best of all worlds; the dogs certainly think so!
You drive into the park on a winding road, and it feels great to leave the hustle and bustle behind. The turnoff is right off of Dayton Road in Champlin, south of the river and east of 169. More details below.
There is a patch of gravel where you can pull off if you just want to enjoy the field. You can also continue on to the parking lot, where there is ample parking for the handful of visitors that are typically there. I, personally, have never seen more than 4 cars at one time.
The trailhead provides a picnic table, trash, and a porta-potty. I've had a picnic on the grass, and it was a delightful getaway. I've even done a photoshoot here with my dogs! It's that picturesque!
Head north from the parking lot on a little gravel trail to the treeline. That's where the adventure waits! As you enter the stand of oak trees, the Mississippi River will appear in front of you. If you have water-seeking hounds like I do, they will want very much to charge right in at first sight. I encourage you to hold them back and wait for better water access points further up the trail. Right here, the bank can be quite steep and they may have trouble getting themselves out.
If you're hiking in the fall like I was today, the dirt trail is covered with a rich collage of orange, yellow, and brown leaves. Enjoy the views as you head up the trail, and soon you will come to a great swimming spot. You'll know it because the trees will open up, and there is a nice gradual bank to the water. See the silhouette picture above.
The great thing about this trail is that the majority of its length borders the river, so there are numerous opportunities for the dogs to jump in and do some swimming. Lots of trees also means lots of sticks to throw! (Mica wanted to be sure I mentioned that important point) The best one is near the end of the trees where the trail rejoins the field; it's a few hundred feet before the bend. Here, it's very open and there is actually some shoreline. Great views of the opposite shore, too! River is like a rabbit the way she leaps and bounds up and down the bank, from me to the water and back again. Endless entertainment!
Once you rejoin the grassy fields, be sure to have your dogs on leash to keep them from affecting the new trees the city is trying to grow. If you like, you can follow the trail back to the parking lot, or you can walk into the field and enjoy some sunshine on your face in the wide open spaces. It's a nice easy walk back, and it's also a good opportunity to let the dogs dry off a bit! It never seems to be terribly windy here. Always just right. Picture yourself meandering down the path while your dogs happily romp.
So Why is it So Great?
This is my peaceful place. Most of the times I visit, there is no one else there. Solitude is important to me, and it's also an opportunity to let the dogs off leash. They LOVE to run and run and run, eating up the ground and nudging each other into sudden sprints. Both of them love the water, too. The current isn't too much for them to handle and they get a great fun workout swimming to retrieve sticks. When they are happy, I am happy. When they are fulfilled, I am content.
I've been to this park in all seasons, and it never fails to provide a soul-refreshing experience. There are truly no people in the winter, but they do a nice job of keeping the parking lot ploughed. Mica, with his little winter booties, had a blast chasing tennis balls across the light snow. Springtime is also quiet, and the sunshine feels extra good after being cooped up all winter. Summer and fall bring the most people to visit, but as long as you are respectful of other people and their dogs, you shouldn't have any issues.
Explore, Enjoy, Adventure On! Woof!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! Have you visited? What was your experience? I'm excited to hear from you!
How to Get There
Pictures From the Trail!