Wandering Pine is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you! Learn more.
LENGTH 4-8 miles (we did 4 miles in each park)
DIFFICULTY Accessible for all abilities (Kinnickinnic), Hills! (Willow River)
DATE May 13, 2017
MAIN FEATURES Views of the St Croix River and a Waterfall/Swimming Hole
Together again…Las Hermanas del Pino!
Hikes # 20 & 21 of the year started at Kinninckinnic State Park, just 10-15 scenic miles off of Hwy 94 in Husdon WI. Fairly convenient for those in the greater Twin Cities area. Minnesotans will have to pay a fee for a daily pass in the park, but we were able to use it later to get into Willow River, just a few miles down the road on the other side of Hudson, later that day…so we totally got our money’s worth.
Kinnickinnick is a fairly small park and has color coded trails and signs and maps everywhere. With less than 10 miles of total trail in the park, the trails were very accessible, mowed, wide and pretty easy. It would be a great spot to take little ones, start out trail running or have a picnic.
The BIG VIEW was the overlook of where the St Croix and Kinnickinnic Rivers meet.
We did all of the loops except the pink loop and got in close to 4 miles. Warning: we didn’t see any bathrooms here. Maybe we just missed it… For such an easy trail with lots of parking lot options, we kind of expected to see one, so be prepared. No water or drones either. FYI.
After a quick little trail lunch, we decided to skip the pink loop and head to the ‘hill of doom’ and waterfall trail at Willow River State Park which is a few miles north of Hudson. Very easy to hit both parks in one day if you want more miles or squeeze every penny out of your daily pass fee.
The main entrance had a line of people trying to check into the park, so we went in the “back door” and parked at the Falls Trailhead parking lot about 1/2 mile down the road. This is typically a very busy park because it’s so close to the city of Hudson and has a cool waterfall that is filled with families and young people. It reminded me a little of Minnehaha Falls.
Willow River has another nice color coded map with lots of signs and markers on the trail. We were able to hit every trail except the Oak Ridge and White Tail Trails and enjoyed having a little more variety in the terrain.
Flight one: helloooooo down there…..
The big view is the at the top of the climb up the ‘stairs of doom’…these are second only to the icy stairs of DOOM that nearly led straight to our deaths at the Devil’s Kettle. We had a blast goofing around and taking the most challenging routes we could find, and declaring our own triple crown: hill of doom, stairs of doom and the waterfall of doom.
Using gravity to my advantage on the Hill of DOOM
One major change to the park, is that they recently demolished the large Dam, pulling the plug on Little Falls Lake and turning it into a grassy wetland that allows the Willow River to flow freely on its own path.
“Hey, who pulled the plug?”
The dam was one of the main highlights when we took the kids here a few years ago and was a good spot for fishing. Its strange to see the river wind through what one was a lake buzzing with activity, and made the beach and playground a little sad, since they now border an empty lake. The project started in 2015 and it looks like they are considering rebuilding the dam at some point…stay tuned.
All in all, it really doesn’t matter where we go…hiking with my sister is always an adventure and an opportunity finally do what Mom always told us… “GO OUTSIDE!”