Inquire of Twin Cities cross-country enthusiasts and you'll quickly notice a common theme: When they haven't got the time or the cash for a jaunt to the Arrowhead, it's all about Hennepin Parks. All of the district's eight preserves boast cross-country ski trails (Bloomington's Hyland is a particular favorite), and all are exceptionally well maintained and clearly marked, and they cater to almost every ability level. The trails at three parks are lighted at night, and five cater to skijoring (cross-country skiing while harnessed to a dog) and dog-sledding. Trail conditions are updated frequently on the user-friendly Web page; one fella we know surfs in the morning and nips out to ski on his lunch hour. Parks are open 5:00 a.m. to sunset. Trail maps are available at each location. An annual parking permit costs $25; daily permits are just $5.


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