Map Monday: Three Rivers Park District’s 2030+ Vision

Three Rivers Park District is a regional park system that is one of the Met Council’s partner park systems. Minneapolis has long had a phenomenal park system rated the best in the country by the Trust for Public Land. Three Rivers Park District is maybe best thought of as Hennepin County’s regional park system excluding Minneapolis. (That’s not exact because Three Rivers has regional parks in Scott County, Carver County, Ramsey County, and Wright County.)

Just as the Met Council is drafting their 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan—please check it out and leave comments!—Three Rivers Park District is preparing their 2040 System Plan. Check out the Three Rivers Park District’s 2040 System Plan survey. On the survey page Three Rivers Park District offers some Benchmark Inventory documents to the public. In the Land Inventory document linked to on the System Plan webpage Three Rivers lays out the park system progress since 1970 to their plan for 2030+.

Below is a screen shot the Three Rivers Park District system in 2017 from the Three Rivers Park District Land Inventory document. For the trail cyclists out there you may be interested in the future trail routes/search corridors.

Three Rivers 2017

Three Rivers Park District in 2017


Below is the regional plan from 1970 to 2030+, take a look at the filling in of Hennepin County with development in the northwest. Notice the large lot estates of western Hennepin County basically stay.

Three Rivers Growth From 1970 To 2030+

Three Rivers Growth From 1970 To 2000 to 2030+


Let’s zoom in to 2030+ for greater detail.

Three Rivers 2030+

Three Rivers Park District plan for 2030+

There are many fascinating things from these maps to me. You can see how the developed area grows out over the decades with respect to the park, preserves, and trails. I would love to see many of these trails come to reality. I’d like to know how possible some of these north-south trails are.

Personally, I’d also like to see Three Rivers Park District—and the other Met Council partner park systems—consider contingency plans to rescue municipal golf courses when golf use falls below financially sustainable levels, on a case by case basis, and preserve them by converting their diminished golf use to parks in their regional park system.

There are a few more maps from the Three Rivers Park District’s Benchmark Inventory documents I plan on for a future post. But please feel free to browse them if you have an interest in the future of the Three Rivers Park District system.

Eric Anondson

About Eric Anondson

Born in St. Louis Park and lived there nearly 28 years but has been living in Hopkins since 2008. Eric's hopped around two years or so at a time in Loring Park, Laurel Village, Snellby, Whittier, and Golden Valley. He works in downtown Minneapolis. On Twitter as @xeoth.

8 thoughts on “Map Monday: Three Rivers Park District’s 2030+ Vision

  1. Eric Ecklund

    I see some of the routes for proposed trails are active rail lines, so what makes them think the railroad will sell the right-of-way? Or will they build alongside the existing rail line like the short segment of the Nine Mile Creek Trail in Edina along the Dan Patch Line and the Cedar Lake Trail along BNSF’s secondary mainline in St. Louis Park?

    It would be nice to have those trails, but lets not assume the railroads will just nod in agreement. We’ve already learned the hard way from Southwest and Bottineau that that’s not how it works.

    1. Monte Castleman

      The Bloomington 2040 and ATP plans also show the two north-south rail lines as trails. Both lines have a 10 mph speed limit and the river bridge that’s 100 years old and see one or two trains of a couple of cars a day. Dan Patch fantasies aside, it’s not hard to see that even without external pressure operating these lines might not be profitable for even a short line railroad too much longer.

      1. Eric Ecklund

        The Dan Patch Bridge isn’t used yet. Twin Cities & Western repaired it to ship grain to Cargill in Savage, but has not started yet. Progressive Rail, the owner of the line going through East Bloomington and Richfield, gets a good amount of local business so I wouldn’t assume this line is unprofitable just because the track is old. Considering Canadian Pacific hasn’t sold the out-of-service segment of the Dan Patch Line between Savage and Lakeville leads me to believe they’re either wanting a better deal from Dakota County or they’re keeping it and will reactivate it when market conditions are right.

    2. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

      It would be great to have black and white clarity about what kind of confidence Three Rivers/Hennepin/Bloomington have for each route within the timeline above.

      While past rail routes were acquired by the county regional rail authorities does that mean future rail route must be acquired by the county regional rail authorities? Do Met Council partner park systems like Three Rivers have authority to acquire trail ROW even if it means purchasing property at market rate from railroads abandoning the line?

  2. Seasons01

    True the reason they are trails are so they can make them in to rails when they need them again. Interesting to see what happens.

    1. Cobo R

      The true reason is that the rail ways were ridiculously overbuilt in their heyday..
      Some of the were too expensive to maintain, and then they were abandoned.

      And one the best uses of the abandoned train paths was to make them publicly available as trails.

      These trails (and the three rivers nature preserves) are some my favorite things about the metro area. When I have a few free hours, they are usually where I am.

    2. Eric Ecklund

      Except if/when rail comes back people fight tooth and nail to stop it. No matter how much you tell them its county rail authority right-of-way and could be used for rail (or any mode of transit) again people assume that won’t happen.

      Just look at the residents of Kenwood and how much of a fight they’ve put up against Southwest LRT despite the fact that:
      -the Kenilworth Trail is on Hennepin Country Rail Authority land
      -the intention of buying that land from the railroad (over 30 years ago) was for transit purposes

      1. Brian

        People tend to expect that easements that go unused for decades will never get used. (Not that this is the right thing to expect.)

        My parents have a 40 year old easement for a sewage lift station in their backyard that the city has never built to date. I am sure the neighbors would be somewhat upset if a lift station did get built there as I expect most of them are not even aware of the easement. (The lift station will probably never happen as the city built one 1/4 mile away.)

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