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Dakota County Recreation Programs
18 park district and recreation departments provide recreational opportunities for Dakota County residents. An overview of Dakota County recreation programs and facilities is featured on this page; others are available off-line from Metro Profiles.
Dakota County Parks 1011 Sibley Memorial Hwy Lilydale MN 55118 952-891-7000
Recreational facilities in Dakota County include Big Rivers Regional Trail, Camp Sacajawea, Camp Spring Lake, Dakota Woods Dog Park, Lake Byllesby Regional Park, Miesville Ravine Park Reserve, Spring Lake Park Reserve, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Thompson County Park, and Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center. The youth group campsites collectively feature picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and water access. The parks collectively offer shelters (some with restrooms and drinking fountains), picnic areas charcoal grills, trailheads, and trails that accommodate hiking, biking, rollerblading, snowshoes, dog sledding, and cross country skiing. Camp Sacajawea also features a handicap accessible youth campsite (tents); a retreat center with lodge, 10 group campsites and outdoor classroom; a year round camp lodge (can accommodate 50, firewood included) with great room, nature observation area, un stocked kitchen, fireplace, counselor's area, private showers and restrooms; and a Ropes Course with activities 1.5 to 40 feet above the ground that also features a Climbing Wall, Pamper Pole and Zip Line. Camp Spring Lake also houses a retreat center with lodge, 10 group campsites and outdoor classroom; and a year round camp lodge (can accommodate 50, firewood included) with great room, nature observation area, un stocked kitchen, fireplace, counselor's area, private showers and restrooms. Lake Byllesby Regional Park features a 400 foot public beach (unguarded) with bath house (restrooms and showers). Spring Lake Park Reserve features 67 community garden plots, with water access at 2 locations; an Archery Trail with 28 shooting lanes offering elevated and fan shot opportunities in a natural, wooded setting; and a Model Airfield open May 1-Nov. 30 with east/west and north/south runways, and a quarter mile flying radius. Thompson County Park houses Dakota Lodge -Thompson Park Center, which offers facilities for weddings, special gatherings, business meetings or corporate retreats, including a 2800 square foot room with a grand stone fireplace that can seat 200 theater style or 160 for dining, large windows with a view of the outdoors, and adjoining terrace with a view of Thompson Lake. Visitors can take advantage of the surrounding trails as well. 16-acre, fenced Dakota Woods Dog Park features a dog-walking trail loop that connects the park's wooded areas to its open space and parking lot (there is no surface water on site). Lebanon Hills Regional Park houses a Visitor Center, which hosts numerous classes in its Discovery Room (available for public rental as a meeting and event space, can accommodate 50 for dining, 70 for theater style seating, AV equipment included). Preschoolers can attend the periodic Knee High Naturalists classes scheduled at 10 AM (ages 3-6, stories, songs, activities and art). Family activities include Forever Wild Family Friday, which is offered the first Friday of each month at 7 PM (one adult for every 4 children); Animal Tracking guided winter hike (for Families: 10 AM, Mar. 2, 2013, one adult for every 4 children; for adults, 2 PM, Feb. 2, 2013, equipment provided). The Creatures of the Night program includes a guided night hike to learn about like owls, bats, spiders and other nocturnal creatures and play games; participants must be at least 5 years old, with those under 18 accompanied by an adult. Cross-Country Ski Lessons are offered for youth ages 6-12 and for adults (coed & women). Homeschool Activities, for children ages 6-12, meets monthly at 1 PM. Scout Badge activities are held monthly at 2 PM; the time is offered, on a rotating basis, to Daisies, Webelo Boy Scouts, Boy Scouts, Junior Girl Scouts, Tiger Cubs, Bear Cubs, and Brownies. During the winter, Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes are offered for Families and Adults (campfire and roasting marshmallows; equipment is provided, hiking will substitute for snowshoes if necessary). Yoga Sessions for Beginning & Intermediate level students meets periodically at 6:30 PM (age 10 & up, adult accompany youth under age 18). Intro to Fly Fishing is offered on Jan. 26, 2013 at 1 PM and again on Feb. 12 at 6:30 PM. North Pole Explorers program is held in mid-October at 7 PM; this program acquaints participants with polar explorer John Huston. Special events at Lebanon Hills Visitor Center include New Year's Eve Party (starts at 5 PM), and Trails by Candlelight (6 PM, Feb. 9, 2013). Individuals age 15 & up can participate in Hand Colored Photographs class to make unique pieces of artwork from black and white photographs. Intro to Map and Compass provides participants with the basics on directional techniques with map and compass. Music and Stories of Appalachia class features Scotch-Irish, English and African-American heritage and cultural traditions in that region. Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center overlooks the Mississippi River Valley, its great room accommodates up to 75 people for weddings, banquets, meetings, reunions and other occasions (952-891-7000 for reservations). Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center hosts various programs, including Music and Stories of Appalachia (Nov. 17, 2012, 11 AM); and Candlelight Ski (Jan. 9, 2013, 6 PM). Movie Night in the Park (environmental theme films) is held at 7 PM mid-month at various locations, including Dakota Lodge (Dec. 14, 2012) and Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center (Feb. 15, 2013). Dakota Lodge also hosts Karibuni: Welcome!, a program which features proverbs, lessons and history with music from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the Republic of Congo and South Africa (11 AM, Jan. 9, 2013, all ages). Spring Lake Park Reserve hosts a Music Festival in September (2012 event was on Sept. 23 at 3 PM).