Friday, December 18, 2015

Hat trick of trails run near Minn. river landing

American bald eagles nest at several sites along the St Croix River near
Stevens Creek Landing in Minnesota.

Stevens Creek routes located in scenic riverway

Primitive trails cutting through riverside woodlands await day hikers on the Stevens Creek Landing Trails northeast of Rush City, Minn.

Three unmarked and unnamed trails generally are maintained near the boat launch. Each path often just consists of mowed grass, so be sure to wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and bug spray.

Wide and slow river
The landing is located on the Chisago/Pine County line. To reach it, from Rush City take County Road 5 east; upon entering the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the road turns north. Go right/north onto County Road 3 then right/east onto County Road 52 (aka River Road/Macy Lane) to the landing.

Early summer marks a good time to hike the trails, as by then the St. Croix River runs wide and slow with most flooding having receded. From the landing, you’ll spot a series of small series of rapids north of the landing with Stevens Creek spilling into the river to the south.

The landing can be busy at times as the St. Croix River through this stretch sports a sand and gravel bottom, making for excellent smallmouth bass fishing. In addition, there’s a campground south of the site.

Red pines are prominent here, as are bald eagles. Several nesting sites can be found in this section of the river, so keep an eye to the sky for the noble raptors.

Trail options
Three different trails can be found near the landing.

A half-mile round trip trail runs from County Road 52 (aka River Road/Macy Lane) a few hundred feet west of the boat landing’s parking lot. The trail heads through woodland to the river.

Another trail loops north from the landing’s parking lot through and at the edge of woodlands for 0.6 miles.

A third loop heads from the parking lot’s southeast corner, mostly edging a woodland for about 0.4 miles.

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