If you’re looking for a great spot to go on a hike near the Twin Cities, I’d suggest heading across the river to Wisconsin to check out Willow River State Park. Just 35 minutes from Minneapolis. I didn’t realize how close it was!
Once you get to the park, you’ll want to follow the Willow Falls parking signs, as I’ve found it to be a good starting spot that will get you access to all kinds of trails in the park. From here, you can decide what level of hike you want to do, but you’ll start by taking Willow Falls Trail.
You can keep following this trail, which goes along the south side of the river to Little Falls Lake. Next time I visit, I’d love to do this hike. But I had to keep the visit short, so instead, I went for the most scenic of the park – The path that takes you down to Willow Falls.
I could have stayed here for an hour or two just taking photos. Willow Falls is so majestic. You can see how big it is next to the people exploring around the falls.
There are so many great viewpoints once you get down to the falls. The bridge going over the river is one of them. Another great shot is across the bridge to the left of the falls from some rock platforms. Under the bridge has a nice view as well.
On hot days, you’ll find people swimming in the pools, which would be a fun activity for a group of friends camping in the park or a family visiting with kiddos. Some other fun activities include kayaking down the river, or fly fishing for trout. So that’s all to say: You can make a wonderful day-trip visit to Willow Falls.
Fun fact: The falls were restored to nearly their natural state in 1992 after they had been developed into a dam in 1924 to provide electricity to Hudson, WI. A lightning strike destroyed the dam (the power of nature!), and thankfully, the state bought the land and turned it into a park.
An overlook above the falls is an option, but you’ll need to climb a steep staircase to get up there. I did the climb and wasn’t too impressed with the view of the falls. So you can save that trip. However, I bet it’s worth making the hike up in the fall, as it has a panoramic view of the river leading out to Willow Lake with the surrounding forest. With the leaves changing color, I imagine it’s quite a lovely view. In fact, I’m planning to go back in the fall to take more photos!
I hope this blog post inspired you to make a stop at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin. It really is such a beautiful spot. And for those living in and around the Twin Cities in Minnesota, it’s closer than you think!
Let’s go places,
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Have you been to Willow River State Park in Wisconsin? Share your experience in the comments section below!