Salem Hills Park Trail Review
Continuing in our series of reviewing trails across the Twin Cities, below is the Salem Hills Park Trail in Inver Grove Heights. Get out and run this before winter snows decide they’ve been gone long enough… too late!
Salem Hills Park Trail is located just off of Upper 55th St E in Inver Grove Heights. Minutes from 494 and highways 110 and 55, it is conveniently located in the south east metro. Plenty of pre-run fueling or post-run recovery options are close by on South Robert Street.
To complete the entire loop runners will log 4.1 miles. A very short (approximately half a mile) loop is an option on the north side of the park.
Terrain at Salem Hills Park Trail
The terrain at Salem Hills, and the adjoining Harmon Park, is very approachable for a novice trail runner. The entire course is on the flat side, with a couple small elevation changes that serve to keep its runners awake.
No lung busting, thighs-on-fire climbs within the park boundaries… for better or worse. But the park does manage a few very nice outcrops with beautiful views of prairies and even a pond.
Since the trails were created by MORC (shout out to the good folks on two knobby tires!) they feel more like mountain bike trails. Well, more like a roller coaster. The vast majority of the trails are single track, with a couple small sections of double wide trails.
Bobbing and weaving through trees and tall grasses, following the turns and curves of the single-track runners feel the momentum convincing them to continue to the next bend or outcrop.
The trail is worn to a deep groove in multiple places, especially along curves, that are deep enough to twist an ankle. And a few tree roots litter the trail waiting to trip a distracted runner. All in all, the course is very enjoyable and fast.
Multiple of this park’s characteristics contribute to a very pleasurable experience. The variation in the park’s vegetation really stands out. Within the span of a single mile runners are directed through sections of pine tress, prairie grasses, and large sections of mature deciduous trees and bushes.
The park is a spectacular setting on a fall afternoon, with the sun’s golden light showcasing the autumn reds and oranges. Just as beautiful in the winter, with a fresh coat of snow, or in the spring with the smells of life rising from the previously dormant ground.Twin Cities Trail Map
A convenient and large parking lot sit at the trailhead that is located within Salem Hills Park. Just west of the lot, and south of the basketball and tennis courts, is a large sign with a map of the trails.
Step onto the trail and head north and follow the signs all around the park. Since the trail is shared with bikers they are one direction. The first half-mile is a loop that brings you back to the trailhead – in case you forgot anything in your car – but the signs point the way to the longer loop to the south of the lot.
The parking lot is adjacent to the Inver Grove Heights water tower. Should you lose your bearings while enjoying your run the water tower is visible from most of the outcrops within the park.
With a manageable distance of four miles getting in multiple loops is not only possible, but considering how scenic the park is a second loop is almost mandatory. Not that you have to stop at two loops. Bring some water (no fountain exists within the park’s boundaries) and snacks to create your own personal aid station out of your car and run four mile loops all day long.
Run the trails after dark with a headlamp for a challenging, and somewhat slower, but even more invigorating adventure!