Lebanon Hills Regional Park: Jensen Lake

It was a warm summer morning and way too early. I was a sweet 17 year old determined to better herself, so I signed up for a running small group. Oh, I was going to become the best runner. And this morning was only 3 miles! Well, I drove myself to the park and met everyone. It was simply beautiful in the calm and peaceful morning air. We begin this trail run at Jensen Lake in Eagan. It’s going pretty well, aside from the fact that the last time I really even had to run was to grab my books from my locker two months prior. I don’t remember the rest of the run really, just that I never went back.

I can’t say it was solely the running that put me out. Maybe I was just a 17 year old who had better things to do at 6 am on a Saturday. Maybe my idea of me running was painfully different from the reality of it all. Maybe the stars hadn’t aligned well enough, but I still enjoyed Jensen Lake. I’ve been hiding out here every now and then for a good ten years. One time, our friend Micah had this great idea to have a bonfire and brought a bunch of papers his dad was going to recycle. One of my best friends got married here. It’s a really great place, sprinkled with memories.

After second nap, I broached the idea of maybe going on a hike. To my complete surprise Mac was totally on board. I asked where we should go. Should we do Ritter Farm Park? Would you like to go by the river? No? Okay, I guess we’ll try Jensen Lake. Oh balls, was it hot though? It reached 89 degrees and the heat index was high. This was going to be a bit tricky. To add to the insanity, I brought the dog, whom I love, but is a terrible walker.

The short legs might have something to do with it

Mac and I talked about how he would tell me before he got winded and tired so we could turn around. I warned that the heat would maybe also be a reason to turn around. Still, the kid was ready to go. Okay, cool, let’s go. We head down the trail and see maybe thirty dragonflies as we approach the water. Mac is nervous and excited. Once he relaxes a bit all he does is talk about that blue one and that other blue one. Nonstop for 15 minutes. I’m constantly tuning in and out as I check Theo and his comfort level as he is strapped to me in the Ergo, an ice pack between us.

Mac is still talking about the damn dragonflies and the lilies on the water. This is his best hike so far. Typically his enthusiasm wanes and we’re stuck telling him to just keep walking and very soon it feels like you’re breaking child labor laws or patrolling a death march. So this new excitement is definitely something I can work with.

The rain from the day before is a real blessing in disguise. The muddy spots are there and every time we hit one, Charles the dog, goes full stop and lays in the mud. But that kind of opened my eyes. As the ice pack was slowly becoming a heavy, liquid-filled plastic nothing, I needed answers for cooling the kids down. So I found little spots and scooped up water to brush their heads and faces with. It worked wonders for the kids demeanor too; how silly to have mom slapping muddy water on your face?


Somehow we made it with minimal breaks. Mac talked nearly the entire time. His endurance was really on point too. Maybe all our bike rides have helped start that mentality of perseverance. Maybe the wind blew the right way. But seriously, the winds were high and it was a life-saver.

We spotted dragonflies galore, a great blue heron, and a painted turtle laying eggs in the muddy path. The mosquitoes were really not a problem for us. As it was 5:30 pm when we finished the sun wasn’t too much of a bother. And Mac still had enough energy to play on the playground for 15 minutes. Theo was just entranced by all the cool trees blowing in the wind and the delicious taste of a food pouch I cracked open.


I would definitely recommend the 2 mile trek around. There are a lot more boardwalk parts of the path now to combat the muddy parts. The elevation wasn’t too crazy and the scenery was glorious. Plus, you can tempt the unwilling kids to complete the trail with promises of giant cups of water and a playground at the end. Try to tell me that doesn’t sound ideal?


click for map

Cost of purchases & tip: $0.00
Cost of gas*: $3.36
Total cost: $3.36



*When estimating gas mileage, we have a good 15 mpg range in our Jeep Liberty, so chances are it costs much less for you per gallon. Sometimes having no car payments means putting up with a terrible mpg. All prices are adjusted based on current gas prices.


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