Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hiking opportunities abound in City of Trails

St. Croix Falls is the self-proclaimed “City of Trails,” and it’s a richly deserved title. Of all cities in northwestern Wisconsin – and probably the entire state for that matter – none can boast the number or diversity of trails available to hikers. Here’s a small sampling:
g Gandy Dancer State Trail The trail runs roughly north-south for 98 miles with a number of accessible points in Wisconsin cabin country, making it ideal for a day hike. A scenic segment to hike is the 4.5 miles from St. Croix Falls to Centuria.
g Esker Trail – This short trail runs atop a tall ridge of sediment left by the meltwater of a retreating glacier that was last seen in these parts some 10,000 years ago. The ridge offers fantastic views of the St. Croix River with visibility of up to 8 miles on clear days.
g Indianhead Flowage Trail Walk atop billion-year-old volcanic rock surrounded by the deep blue of the St. Croix River and the lush green of the Northwoods forest on this 1.5-mile trail. It is located in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
g Ladder Tank Trail – At the scenic riverway visitor’s center, you can take 60 stairs to the top of a ridge for an overlook of the St. Croix. It’s a short trail but pretty with a great view at the top.
g Pothole Trail – When flood waters from melting glaciers swept through at the end of the last Ice Age, swirling water literally drilled holes into the basalt rock underlying this region. The 0.4-mile loop takes you past a number of these interesting geological features in Wisconsin Interstate Park.
g Riegel Park Trail – The west end of the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail runs with this trail at the village’s 76-acre Riegel Park Preserve. Moss and lichen with scattered trees covers a trap rock meadow.
g River Bluff Trail – This 0.7-mile trail in Wisconsin Interstate Park takes hikers between the St. Croix River gorge and the Lake of the Dalles. The rocks and sparse vegetation gives it a Rocky Mountain feel.
g Rock Creek Trail – Located about 5 miles east of town, the trail parallels its namesake through a 20-acre restored prairie. Boulders on the forested part of the trail were brought here by glaciers.
g Shadow and Angle rocks lookouts trails – Across the border in Minnesota Interstate Park are a couple of set of short trails that upon reaching the top offer great vistas of the St. Croix River and the gorge rock formation.
g Summit Trail The trail takes hikers to a high scenic vista at Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls. It runs atop billion-year-old lava flows, the sands of a 500-million-year-old sea, and at the edge of a massive glacial flood from 10,000 years ago.

Read more about day hiking the scenic riverway in my guidebook Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.