Location: Wyoming, MN
Management: Anoka County Parks & Recreation
Cost: $5/day or $25/year. Car passes are NOT available at this location but can be purchased at other Anoka County parks.
Trail Surface: Natural Surface - Dirt and Grass Trails
Environment: Pine, Oak, Elm Forest. Lakes. Marsh / Grassland.
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
Cell Phone Reception: Excellent
Parking: Plentiful, no charge.
Dog Rules: Dogs on Leash, Pick up Waste
Recommended Gear: Any shoes are fine on the main trail.
Martin-Island-Linwood Lakes Regional Park may be a mouthful, but it's actually 3 parks (and 3 lakes!) all in one park. I went north to check out this Anoka County Regional Park and was pleasantly surprised by the many areas to hike. Be warned, though, there is very little signage and I had to do a lot of exploratory navigating to create this Trail Guide.
I started my adventure at Linwood Lake. The boat launch was incredible, and those are words I never thought I'd say. Beautiful landscaping and lots of rocks and boulders for the dogs to clamber around on meant that my Border Collies had a blast. Nice shallow water with a sandy bottom, I imagine it's wonderful for a quick swim, too. After a nice splash and some photos, I then tried to find a trail. I stumbled around for a while, consulted the map on my phone, and was still stumped. Finally, I tried an ATV trail right by the shore and followed that for a mile.
It was, as you can imagine in early spring, quite muddy. It's near the level of the lake, too, which means constant water. My dogs didn't mind the mud and huge standing water puddles, but I did. It was hard to find ways around with the thick brush on both sides of the trail. We went about a mile and then turned back. The saddest part for me was not being able to take the side trails that led to the lake due to giant mud baths. I'm sure the views would have been wonderful, but it was truly impassable. This is not one of the trails I'm recommending in this Guide, but I wanted you to be aware.
We climbed back in the car and headed to Island Lake next. Here is where I found some good hiking at last. There is a public beach that looks fantastic for swimming in the summer. It did say "no pets" on the sign, though. We ate a snack in the delightful picnic area before exploring the first trail. It is a rough, unkempt trail through the pine trees at the lake's edge. You can see the beginning of it from the picnic area. See the maps I posted at the end of this post. I really enjoyed this one! It felt like true adventuring, partly I'm sure because this is not a maintained trail. Covered in pine needles and with plenty of natural obstacles like downed trees and hanging limbs, this trail was charming. We picked our way through for about a half miles before turning back. Be careful not to lose your way because there are no blazes, and it is hard to see the trail once you've lost it.
Trail number 2 is a snowmobile trail in the winter, but was a nice wide walking path for us in the spring. Keep dogs on leash because it terminates at a busy road. This trail began at the overflow parking area, but you can also access it from the picnic area by going up a steep incline (dogs LOVED!). It goes for about a half mile before reaching the road, but it was a nice stroll through the oak woods.
The last trail, the long one, is where I'd highly recommend you go for a hike. It was everything I look for in a trail: well-marked, wide, elevation changes, a boardwalk for some fun and diversity, and water. I did not explore it all the way to its end, but we were able to go at least a mile, more likely two, before turning back. There is an extensive boardwalk over the marsh. It contained bridges, walkways, and even floating panels. If your dog is unsure of the footing, take your time and do not force them. It can be unsettling to feel the earth move beneath their feet. Also, if you have a water-loving dog, you'll want to keep them on the boardwalk and out of the marsh. It was a very unique smelling mixture of water, bog, and wetland and I'm sure it would take a long time to wash that smell out of your dog's coat!
Peace and tranquility were all around us, and we stopped to sit on the bridge and listen to the red-winged black birds. It's super easy to get to and provided a great afternoon hike for myself, Mica, and River. So hop in the car and head out to this unique park!
Pictures From the Trail