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LENGTH 2.5-3 miles
DIFFICULTY Easy, with caution
DATE Jan 13, 2018
MAIN FEATURES Flat trail on a frozen river, use caution and traction devices.
I have been taught to never trust a river, whether frozen or thawed…it is wild, dangerous and a tempting treat. I think there are more rivers in my future.
Today’s adventure started at the St Croix Boom Site. Another friend picked the location, so I had to look up what a Boom Site was….assuming it had more to do with water than things that go BOOM. Turns out its a historical log flow/storage area, learned something new today! more…
The St. Croix Boom Site is a historic and scenic wayside on the St. Croix River in Stillwater Township, Minnesota, United States. It commemorates the location of a critical log boom where, from 1856 to 1914, timber from upriver was sorted and stored before being dispatched to sawmills downstream. The site was developed as a roadside park along Minnesota State Highway 95 in the 1930s. In 1966 it was designated a National Historic Landmark for its national significance in the theme of industry. It was nominated for being the earliest, most important, and longest serving of the log storage and handling operations that supported Minnesota’s major logging industry.Virtually no traces remain of the site’s original buildings and structures.
It was -10 degrees when I left the house, making this the 3rd sub-zero hike of the year. At least it’s forced me to get my layers down to a routine…and I still ended up peeling off my coat on this hike!
My only issue is getting the goggle thing figured out. These are loaners and I can’t seem to figure out how to keep from fogging up. Got any tips or recommendations on a good pair to purchase?
A group of 12 of us, counting the pup met at the Boom Site Wayside and walked down some slippery stairs for river access. Tip: If you are going in the winter, wait to put your snowshoes on until you get to the shore.
Before we headed out, my friends checked the Marina report, saw fishermen’s cars parked and double-checked the ice conditions before we headed out. They are also very familiar with the area and know what to look for. I say all of this because rivers are tricky, frozen or thawed and they are nothing to mess around with. So, know your stuff before you go, stay close to shore and bring a buddy (or 11 buddies!)!
Our hike led us north along the Minnesota shoreline with views of Wisconsin on the other side. It brought back memories of our fall trip down this river and our triumphant entrance into Stillwater.
I didn’t realize where we were exactly until I looked back at my GPS. We camped right across the river from Fred C. Andersen Scout Camp last month. I remember looking at those frozen falls from the Wisconsin side!
In the first few minutes of our hike, a bald eagle flew over us, making this Bald Eagle sighting #4 of the year! We enjoyed the sunshine, glittery snow and making new friendships. About ½ mile in, I took off my jacket and just wore a merino base layer and my super fuzzy Marmot fleece jacket. It’s crazy how warm the sun (without any wind) can make negative temperatures feel!
About 1+ miles into the hike we came up on the frozen falls. They were spectacular in their own right. The faint turquoise blue peeking out from deep in the ice reminded me of the Glacial Lakes we saw in Glacier National Park this summer. It’s a different kind of ice than we normally get to see around here, and I can only explain it as ‘feeling deeper and more ancient’ when I look at it.
The ice made me a tad nervous in the stretch after the frozen falls, weird sounds…maybe just the reality setting in…and definitely my protective California roots kicking in. We made our way back, enjoying the sun and watching for open water and irregular bumps in the ice.
On our drive out of town, we noticed the Ice Castles were set up in downtown Stillwater. It was $15 to get in and we didn’t really feel up to the whole tour. But we looked around outside of it, hammed it up outside the #ONLYINMN sign.
The Freight House is a cool historic building turned taproom and great place to stop right on the river. We ended the perfect day with a good laugh and some Peanut Butter Stout!
If you are new to Wandering Pine and are looking for trail recommendations, hit the orange map button on the main page or go here for a map with links to trail reviews. New to winter or generally hate being cold? Check out the Layering and Winter Hack posts, hopefully there’s something there to keep ya warm.
11 thoughts on “Snowshoeing on the St Croix River”
Looks like an awesome adventure! Thank you for teaching me about a Boom Site. I’d never heard of that before.
Awesome pics and sounds like a blast! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for reading 🙂 Getting a little better at it each time.
This sounds like so much fun! One of my favorite things about winter hiking is crossing frozen lakes and getting out to frozen waterfalls, so this sounds like a really great adventure!
It was a fun little adventure, I am getting more comfy on frozen lakes and now a river! It really helps to go with experienced friends and be ready for anything. SO beautiful.
Hello Wandering Pine: I’m a writer for Minnesota Monthly, and we’re looking at doing a story on snowshoing. Would you be able to shoot me a note? I’m at frankbures at yahoo.com
Thanks for reaching out, Frank!
Stillwater is great, as is the St. Croix River and all the campgrounds/state parks along both sides!
So fun year round. We stay close to the shore where the falls. Prettier there anyway. I saw your other post about carrying rope and spikes. Good ideas, I also brought non retractible poles to test the ice and use for rescue. Can’t be too careful. 🙂