Eyota, MN (KROC AM News)  - A popular Rochester area park is celebrating its silver anniversary this week.

Olmsted County’s Chester Woods will observe its 25th anniversary as a park Tuesday.

To mark the milestone, park manager Tom Eckdahl says they will offer free entry Tuesday. Additionally, Friends of Chester Woods will offer a family activity designed to give everyone a self-guided experience of the park.

We still want the community to come out and celebrate this important milestone by enjoying our park safely,” noted Eckdahl. “We encourage folks to visit Chester Woods and enjoy our trails by safely staying six feet away from others. We have 15 miles of primitive trails that run through prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Eight-and-a-half miles of those trails can be used for equestrians and we have three miles of trails that can be shared with dogs on a leash.”

“We have a lot of open space here at Chester Woods – 1,330 acres,” said Olmsted County Park Superintendent Karlin Ziegler. “This park has a lot of things to offer. Within the park is the 118-acre Bear Creek Reservoir, also known as Chester Lake, which is enjoyed by fishers, canoers, kayakers, and swimmers. In addition to our trails, we have native prairies, woodlands, and a diverse habitat for wildlife.”

 A new dog park has been added this year, giving the public the opportunity to exercise their dogs off-leash and practice retrieving and water training.

Ziegler says although many activities are still happening at Chester Woods this year, not all will be open due to COVID-19. The beach and beach house will be closed for the entire summer.

Campsites will open June 1.

Chester Woods Park is located eight miles east of Rochester near Eyota

Construction on the park and dam began in 1991 after the county received $5-million in federal funds. The park opened  May 26, 1995.

Over the years, the land that was originally purchased to assist with Rochester’s flood control project has evolved into a regional destination enjoyed by more than 150,000 visitors each year.

. A daily park pass is $5; an annual park pass is $25; and seniors get a discounted annual park pass for $20. Disabled veterans can get a free annual pass by calling the Veterans’ Services office at 507-328-6355.

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