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LENGTH 3-8 miles
DIFFICULTY 500 + Steep stairs with lots of flat paved sections in between.
DATE  May 19, 2018
MAIN FEATURES  Historic town of Stillwater with beautiful views of the St Croix River.

My 26th hike of the 2018 52 Hike Challenge started at 6am at the base of the Chilkoot Stairs on Main Street in historic Stillwater, MN.  We decided to take on the Stillwater stairs challenge as part of our training for our Superior Hiking Trail thru hike this Fall.   Earlier in the week, we tackled Whitewater State Park and Carley State Park which got our calves burning and tested our water crossing skills.  With each hike, we are adding a variety of miles, elevation and weight in all types of weather to get ourselves ready.


Downtown Stillwater was built on hills (much like San Francisco) with the lowest level being Main Street and the St. Croix river. Did you know that Stillwater has five sets of historic steps that you can climb for exercise, fun or for the view? The steps are marked on the map within the Stillwater Visitor Guide: Main Street Stairs · Chestnut Street Stairs · Pioneer Park Stairs · Triangle Park Stairs · South Hill Stairs. Each set has about 100 steps in a very steep vertical climb. Wind your way through downtown to find them all for a sense of accomplishment and about a 3 mile walk. Here is a suggested route –  Click to view/print Stillwater Steps Route .

-excerpt from Discover Stillwater 

Our new friend, Captain Nancy, led us on our adventure and used this map.   We were glad she knew where she was going and kept us on track, since we were so distracted by all of the cool old houses and scenic views.  

She put up with our goofing around and even let us make a stop at Teddy Bear Park for a bear hug.


Here’s where we started and the official stair count if you want to take a shot at it.

(167) Chilkoot

(46) Triangle Park

(124)  The Warden’s House

(38) Carnigie Library

(120) Chestnut

+Stillwater Bridge+

(6) Tin Bins Coffee 

501 Stairs!

Our Stillwater Stair Challenge hike was about 3 miles long.   Since we got an early start and it was only 7am, we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves once we finished.  We debated doing them all again, but then we remembered how much fun we had hiking from Minnesota to Wisconsin across the new Stillwater Bridge a couple of months ago and decided to cross the bridge again!

IMG_0658The sides of the trail are currently undergoing major improvements, but people were still using the trails this morning.   Use caution and stick to the paved area.   It’s going to look GREAT when it’s done!

We got to the bridge and the sun peeked out long enough for us to test out our hands-free hiking umbrella skills and entertain the passing cars.

IMG_0664We tapped one foot over to the Wisconsin State line and hoofed it back at a quick pace to end with a full 8 mile hike.

Like an oasis on a cloudy morning… Tin Bins Coffee appeared!   We had a great cup of coffee, treats and got 6 more steps in…putting us over 500!  Then we made a little jaunt over to Stillwater’s local outdoor gear store,  45 degrees  .  We never actually got to go in since we they weren’t open yet, but it looks super cool.   We have heard that they have a Stillwater Stairs Challenge Patch and we are ALL ABOUT THE PATCHES!  We’ll go back to check them out and get our official patch to commemorate today’s adventure.

IMG_0631How do you train for hilly or mountain hikes if you live in the flatland?  This week, we hit a triple dose of elevation with two hilly state parks and this little gem of a hike.   We are always looking for good trails that keep our bodies guessing, so if you’ve got some good ones in MN, comment below!

Happy Trails!



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3 thoughts on “Stillwater Stair Challenge + The Stillwater Bridge

  1. Parks with good hills that I’ve hiked recently: Lebanon Hills Regional Park (especially on the northern trails) and Maplewood State Park.

      1. I’m obsessed with Lebanon right now lol if you geocache, the park has a TON of caches (I’ve found 37 so far, with 15-20 or so still left to find)

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