Elm Creek Park Reserve is one of the most popular cross country skiing destinations near the Twin Cities. It's the largest of the Three Rivers Parks trails and features some amazing trails to get out and ski on. With over 18km of trails when fully groomed, Elm Creek has plenty of neat places to explore.

This article is meant to function as a guide so skiers can know what to expect when they go.

Note: If you'd like to know trail conditions for Elm Creek, or any other ski trail for that matter, consider trying out Skiwise - A Free Trail Conditions App for iOS and Android.


Elm Creek features a 3km man made loop starting from the main chalet and extending out over the main starting area. This part of the trail is relatively flat, but is super fun when the snow is fast. Considering Twin Cities winters can be unpredictable, the fact that Elm Creek has a manmade loop is a big selling point.

From my experience, the manmade trails in the cities are open usually a couple months longer over the course of the year. A little earlier in the winter and a little later in the spring. This is really great if you want to be able to ski as much as possible during the year.

The man made loop is also lighted at night. This is really nice when the sun sets at 4:30. The lighted area covers the entire man-made loop and extends down the rest of the 2.5km to the lower parking lot and back. This totals 5.5 km of lighted trails at night and feels like plenty of space to get a good workout in.

Additionally, Elm Creek has a whole network of trails to the north that extend out into the woods and loop back. There's also an optional extension for some extra distance.

All the trails on the man-made loop and outer loop are groomed for Skate and Classic. Additionally, there's some additional trails that are only classic, but the majority of the trail system is groomed for both.



Elm Creek has an upper and lower parking lot. The upper parking lot has the chalet, with access to water and bathrooms (although I'm not sure if this is still the case during COVID). The lower parking lot doesn't have a chalet, but in either case you can basically put on your gear right next to your car and ski right onto the trails, which is really nice.



You can get a season pass to access to all Three Rivers Parks locations for $75. If you don't want to ski at the man-made trails, you can optionally get the $55 pass (which doesn't include Elm Creek). Daily passes for Elm Creek can be purchased for $9.

If you want more information on the passes, you can scroll down and get more information here.

Trail Conditions

Three Rivers Parks updates the grooming conditions for Elm Creek via their website. If you'd like to get trail conditions from other skiers, you can also check out Elm Creek Park Reserve on Skiwise. Here's an example post from a skier earlier this week:


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