Protecting a natural legacy

Eden Prairie / Minnetonka, Minnesota
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Self-Guided Walking Tour -Birch Island District

Click here to download a printable version of the Walking Tour

Here’s What You’ll See On Your Walk:

1.  The 106-year old Picha Heritage Farm produces vegetables for the Minneapolis Farmers Market and flowers for garden centers.  Eden Prairie’s only surviving raspberry farm hosts the Birch Island Woods Plant Sale in May.

 2.  A 1919, stucco farm house recently stood on the new, 4-acre addition to the conservation area.

3.  A 1905, prairie-style farm house recently stood at Picha Place and Birch Island Road.

4.  Holasek House, was built by a Czech farm family around 1882 on the Baker Road site of Lifetime Fitness.  Arteka Landscaping officed in the Chaska Brick structure before moving it to Minnetonka in 1986 and Eden Wood in 1987.  It is now a staff residence.

5.  Eden Wood is a camp for kids with special needs and a retreat/conference center for the general public.  Eden Wood includes Holasek House, Glen Lake Children’s Camp, cabins, nature trails (NT), a beach & a canoe launch.  Eden Wood is run by Friendship Ventures which leases the facility from the City.

6.  Glen Lake Children’s Camp is all that remains of the Glen Lake Sanitarium, one of the nation’s top three tuberculosis treatment and research hospitals.  Built in 1925 for kids exposed to tuberculosis, the camp is on the National Register of Historic Places and is being modernized with respect to its historic status.  The San opened in 1916 and from 1962 to 1976 operated in-tandem with the Oak Terrace Nursing Home.  The complex had served 17,000 patients by the time it was closed in 1991 to make way for the Glen Lake Golf Center.  

7.  The Birch Island Woods Trail follows the 1881 roadbed of the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul RR.  The wood chip trails were constructed by local Boy Scouts.  Volunteers are clearing buckthorn & garlic mustard in select areas.

8.  Midwest Asphalt recycles pavement into new paving materials.   

9.  MN River Bluffs Regional Trail kiosk.   Note:  Oddly, BIW Conservation Area is not shown on the kiosk map and the directional arrow panels for Birch Island and Forest Hills Park are wrong.

Natural History of the woods, park & lake

Trees & Plants:  Aspen, Basswood, Boxelder, Cottonwood, Elm, Ironwood, Maple, Oak (several species), Red Pine, Scotch Pine, Tamarack, Paper Birch and Willow.  Spring ephemerals:  Bloodroot, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wood Anemone, Dutchman’s Breeches, Solomon’s Seal,  Bracken, Lady & Maiden Hair Ferns.  Harmful invasives:  Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, Asian Honeysuckle, Purple Loosestrife.

Mammals:   Including Badger, Deer, Red Fox, Beaver, Coyote, Mink, Woodchuck, Rabbit, Raccoon.

Birds:  65+ species have been identified including Yellow-headed Blackbird, Swamp Sparrow, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Blue Bird, Redstart, Barn Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Thrasher, Canvasback Duck,  Cedar Waxwing, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Coot, Dark-eyed Junko, Double- crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Egret, Gray Catbird, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Great Blue Heron, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret, Great Horned Owl, Green Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, Loon, Magnolia Warbler, Marsh Wren, Nashville Warbler, Northern Flicker, Orange-crowned Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Rail, Raven, Red-Tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-necked Pheasant, Scarlet Tanager, Spotted Sandpiper, Teal, Tennessee Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Wild Turkey, Wood Duck

Note:  Birch Island Woods, Birch Island Park and Eden Wood are part of the City of Eden Prairie’s impressive park, trail and open space system.  The nine hole, Glen Lake Golf & Practice Center and the Minnesota River Bluffs Trail are owned by Hennepin County and managed by Three Rivers Park District.  Bent Creek Golf Club is a members only operation with an 18-hole, links style course.  

Eden Prairie has stronger dog leashing laws than other communities.   Dogs are not permitted to visit Eden Prairie Parks and Conservation Area unless they are leashed. For a list of Eden Prairie-based dog parks where dogs can run free, visit

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