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A new way to experience the dog park: Skijoring

Bet you didn't know that Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove is home to one of the top 10 dog parks in the country! Don't believe me? Take USA Today's word for it.

Bet you didn't know that Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove is home to one of the top 10 dog parks in the country! Don't believe me? Take USA Today's word for it. USA today gives the dog park top marks because of its size as awell as for the wide variety of unique activities available. Elm Creek dog park is one of the largest off leash areas in the Twin Cities: it offers 29 acres of open fields, ponds, and forested trails where dogs have the freedom to run around to their heart’s content. The article's author notes, “It seems like a completely different park, depending on the season.”

You don't have to wait until summer to take advantage of this great park: one of the unique seasonal opportunities available at Elm Creek is a winter activity called skijoring. Most of us are familiar with dog sledding, the sport where a dog or team of dogs pulls a person on a sled. Skijoring is similar, except the human is pulled on cross-country skis. A popular sport in Scandinavian countries, it is quickly gaining popularity here in the US. In ‘dog powered’ sports like skijoring, your dog is pulling you rather than just running beside you. In fact, the Norwegian word ‘skijoring’ literally translates to ‘ski driving.’ If your pooch has pent-up winter energy, it’s a terrific way to get them some exercise. At Elm Creek there are 4.3 miles of skijoring trails.

>> What is Skijoring?<<

Want to give skijoring a try? Anyone with a dog that is at least 30 lbs can do it! You don’t even need a ski permit to skijor the mixed-use trails at Elm Creek. However, there are some things to know if you’ve never done it before.

  1. Most dogs have an instinct to pull, but some need to be taught. In general, dogs love it!
  2. All breeds are trainable, but some dogs 'get it' quicker than others.
  3. The equipment needed (apart from cross country skis)are harnesses for both human and dog, and a specially designed belt with tugline to tether you to your dog
  4. For your dog’s sake, start small and incrementally ease into it.
  5. Make sure you stick to designated skijoring trails (at Elm Creek the trails are mixed use, but certain trails are off limits to skijoring. Check their map before you go).

Man in deep snow skijoring with dogs

With more and more hotels becoming pet friendly, who says you have to leave your dog at home during your next trip? Hit the road for a pet-cation! In fact, you’ll be getting puppy dog eyes if you try to leave your dog at home on this trip…

>>More Minneapolis Northwest parks<<

dog park collage

Pet Friendly Hotels in Minneapolis Northwest

Best Western Plus
Country Inn & Suites
Extended Stay America
Motel 6
Norwood Inn
Quality Inn
Super 8
La Quinta Inn & Suites
Asteria Inn & Suites
Extended Stay America
Staybridge Suites

About the Author
Minneapolis Northwest
  • Becca Schaar

Minneapolis Northwest native and freelance blogger 

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