Backcountry lite: A city park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Richard T. Anderson Conservation area in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie is one of my favorite places to hike close to the metro, but I’ve long wondered how skiable it is, too. 

The answer: It goes. 

Tip shot at Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area in Eden Prairie, Minn.

The sublime, powdery backcountry excursions of the mountain west are not a fair comparison, but for a quick hour-and-a-half tour a few minutes from home, it did the trick. 

Last year I wrote about another “backcountry lite” excursion at Afton State Park, and I’d say Afton is a little better in terms of vertical to ski. There was also considerably more snow last winter. 

The view from the east side of the park, overlooking Rice Lake, the Minnesota River and the city of Shakopee. Coverage, as you can see, was spotty.

Richard T. Anderson is an attractive spot because it’s steep. It overlooks Rice Lake and the Minnesota River and features lots of bluffs and some steep slopes. There are steep sections in the trees on the west side and a wide open section on the east side. 

The snowpack was thinner than I expected, but the hard 6 or so inches of base layer we have in the Twin Cities area protected my skis pretty well. 

If you can enjoy scratching out five turns at a city park, I would like to go skiing with you someday.

Really, however, these expeditions are about the tour. The trails are well-maintained and relatively empty. It was a sunny day and the fresh snow made it beautiful. 

Go explore your snowy local park. Backcountry doesn’t always have to be big, especially here.

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