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LENGTH 1-9 miles
DIFFICULTY Easy and accessible for all abilities
DATE Many times
MAIN FEATURES Medicine Lake, night time winter hiking, epic playground
CLIFTON E. FRENCH REGIONAL PARK, or “French Park” is my go to park if I am limited on time and just want to get outside. We fell in love with it when the kids were little before all of this crazy hiking started, because of their epic rope playground. The playground was constructed in 1989 and is undergoing a much needed re-construction and will re-open in 2018. As our family has grown, we’ve come to enjoy all 4 seasons at the park. Snowshoeing in the winter, kicking off hiking season with a good 3-5 mile training hike and kayaking and paddleboarding on Medicine Lake.
I love this park so much, I hiked it on Saturday AND Sunday! Hike #9 & 10 baby! #52hikechallenge. Yesterday, it was the pup and I. Today I hiked with the family and a bunch of Scouts to prep for our upcoming Glacier National Park High adventure trip. This park has a couple of small hills, just enough to get you working. For 5 years, French Park has been our first Spring training hike whether it be for Hiking Merit Badge, High Adventure trips or their first nature hike.
The terrain of this trail starts off flat, but also includes a couple of hills, marshy areas, bridges and a nice view of the lake. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the Bald Eagle, Beaver and Otters that live there. Mix it up by running up the Sledding hill, Challenge Hill or the “big hill” in the Nature Exploration area to get your heart pumping.
Yesterday’s feature…. Snow!
Today’s feature…. Mud!
This Three Rivers Park district park has 9 miles of unpaved or paved trails that can be modified to meet any skill level and is great for those with kids or limited mobility. If the kids are along, they will appreciate the playground, geocaching, sandy beach and snacks at the visitor center.
In the winter months, snowshoeing allows plenty of opportunities to explore off trail and experience the insulated quiet that comes with a fresh blanket of snow (without worrying too much about getting lost). Its set up for night time Cross country skiing so we often come here in after dark just because it’s so well lit.
All in all, this is a great park whether you are just starting out or just need to get a quick nature fix without driving far. Check out the Three Rivers Park District site for more awesome regional parks. The good people of the Park system offer excellent recreational and educational programs with a long history of conservation and doing good in the community. With over 27,000 acres of parks and trails and 10 million visitors annually, this is the place to be.
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