This is a fun trail. Plain and simple. Over 7 miles of fun singletrack. Challenging, twisting and exciting. The trail is a singletrack loop that doesn't have many spurs, or crossings, so getting lost isn't a problem.
Need To Know
As of 2016, the trail no longer has any required fees to park or annual passes. The city of Elk River has planned to make improvements to the trailhead and invest additional money into this trail, so look for on-going trail work in the coming future. Volunteer trail work nights are on Mondays, usually starting mid to late afternoon.
If you're not wanting to do the whole loop, you can hang a left on the grassy doubletrack underneath the powerlines about 1.5 miles into the trail.
After a little bit, look for the singletrack coming back across the grassy doubletrack. You'll see a brown sign saying that this is Hillside park, hiking/biking. This is your trail. Other than a mechanical, or bad weather, you should have no reason to take the shortcut. This trail is too fun to cut anything out. It has a lot of quick ups and downs. With no real sustained climbing, this trail isn't terribly physically demanding, that is unless you push the pace yourself.
I enjoyed the rolling singletrack meandering through the forests, crossing logs, and rocks. The one spot that really impressed me was a switchback climb where they had built out the corner, using logs as retaining walls, so that you could change directions on the hill without completely stalling. It was subtle, but it just shows how much went into this trail. They have also done a great job building up large logs to be completely rideable, many of which are used as skinny's.
With its close proximity to the Metro, and its high quality mountain biking, I am guessing that this trail will develop quite a name for itself.
History & Background
The singletrack trail at Hillside Park was laid out and constructed by BLAST during the years of 1999 and 2000. From 2006-2016 it was maintained by the small DirtWirx crew of volunteers, with numerous improvements made to the original trail design. In 2016, Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists partnered with the City of Elk River to maintain the trail system, and began the process of a major redesign of the trail system to address erosion issues and bring it up to modern sustainability standards, yet retain the Hillside character that many riders have come to enjoy.