Monday, April 28, 2014

Wild River SP trails cross oak forest, prairie

Windfall Trail. Photo courtesy Minnesota DNR.
A diverse array of trails await day hikers at Minnesota's Wild River State Park.

The state park is located along the St. Croix River. Originally called St. Croix Wild River State Park – and it still appears on various maps that way – it’s now just Wild River State Park.

To reach the trail, from North Branch, Minn., take Minn. Hwy. 95 to County Road 12. Drive it to the park entrance, and follow the main park road to your trailhead’s parking lot.

Among the best day hiking trails at the state park are:
g Amador Prairie Loops – Day hikers can choose between a 1-mile or a 2-mile loop that heads through an open area of tall prairie grasses. The loops begin at the park’s Trail Center.
g Amik’s Pond Trail – Brochures for the nature trail can be picked up at its trailhead next to the visitor center. It runs one mile.
g Deer Creek Loop – Part of the pretty trail runs along the historic Old Military Road that once connected what is now the south end of the scenic riverway with Lake Superior. Including the stem trail from either the visitor center or the River Access, the trail runs 4-miles round trip.
g Mitigwaki Loop – The 1-mile loop heads through an oak woods overlooking Dry Creek. The trailhead is at the visitor center.
g Pioneer Trail – Day hikers can experience three ecosystems – on oak woods, a savanna, and a prairie – on this loop that leaves from the Trail Center. Including an access trial, the walk is 3.1-miles round trip.
g River Terrace Loop – The 1.5-mile loop and its stem trail circles through a bottomland forest. It offers views of the Old Nevers Dam site on the river.
g Windfall Trail – Like the Amik's Pond Trail, a brochure for the nature trail is located at its visitor center trailhead. It is 1-mile long.

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