I've spent time in previous posts extolling the virtues of the prairies, so I won't go into it again here, but the reason I decided to check out Crow-Hassan Park was because I heard it had some of the last virgin prairie in the Twin Cities metro area and I wanted to see it. Crow-Hassan is probably the least visited Three Rivers park, mostly because it is a little bit further away than most of their parks (meaning a 40 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis instead of a 20 minute drive like most of their parks). The dearth of visitors is definitely a boon to the wilderness feel of the park.
Although there are forests and wetlands as well in Crow-Hassan, a large portion of the park, located on the Crow River in Rogers, is indeed prairie. There is enough prairie that you can begin to get the sense of how diverse grasslands can be. In the photo above, I've placed three sections of the prairie next to each other to give you an idea of that. Native prairie like this can have hundreds of more species of grass, flowers, and shrubs than restored prairie can. I know they don't seem that diverse, but when you're dealing with grass, you take what diversity you can get.
Probably the best part of the Crow-Hassan prairie were the wildflowers. Parts of the hills were just overrun with yellows and purples and reds. I also must have hit frog season because there were sections in the woods where every step I took would result in literally dozens of frogs springing out of my way - the forest floor was alive with them.
This out of the way park is definitely worth a visit if you have an afternoon off. For prairie lovers like myself, the best time to see it is late summer when the wildflowers are in bloom and the grasses are just starting to tint autumnal.