One Community’s “Outdoor Playground”

Imagine taking an outdoor yoga class, then exploring new trails via a rental mountain bike and wrapping up the day by grabbing a bite to eat — all within minutes of downtown Minneapolis. It was this kind of vision that inspired The Trailhead.

Theodore Wirth Park already had popular singletrack, ski trails and a golf course. What it didn’t have was a central hub where the community could gather. That’s where The Loppet Foundation came in. Members of The Loppet Foundation — a group that facilitates educational and community programming in and around Theodore Wirth Park — saw this need and proposed the construction of a four-season facility that could bring the community together and serve as an accessible and approachable entry point for North Minneapolis’ residents to try out skiing, mountain biking, and trail running.

“The Trailhead project is about exposing people of all backgrounds to outdoor activities that they can do right in their backyard.” – John Munger, Executive Director at the Loppet Foundation

As it turned out, two holes of the Theodore Wirth Golf Course that were in dire need of an update were also in a prime position for the facility. The Loppet Foundation came to an agreement with the Minneapolis Parks Department to move the two holes and, with help from QBP, broke ground for The Trailhead in spring of 2017. 

“QBP offered The Loppet Foundation a blended approach in terms of support. In addition to the $100,000 check we wrote, we also gave hundreds of volunteer hours over 2.5 years. In one day, we completed several week’s worth of singletrack because we had so many eager volunteers,” said Seth Nesselhuf, Director of Community at QBP.

“QBP was a huge help. We had the vision, but QBP provided the capital investment and the people power.” – John Munger, Executive Director at the Loppet Foundation

Right now, The Trailhead is one of the only centers like it in the Midwest. With the addition of wide, less-technical mountain bike trails, world-class ski trails, and educational programming, the facility has something for everyone ranging from families with young children, to high school clubs, to experienced adult athletes. It has also already been named a Cross-Country Ski World Cup Location in 2020.

“With The Trailhead, we’ve managed to build something that satisfies everyone. Hopefully it will serve as a model for the future and others will replicate what we’ve done here,” said John Munger, Executive Director at the Loppet Foundation.

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