Sunday, March 27, 2016

State park trail heads to small waterfall

Wolf Creek Falls at Banning State Park. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Map to Wolf Creek Falls. Courtesy Minnesota DNR.

Wolf Creek Falls
drops 12 feet
in Minnesota

Hikers can enjoy a wooded walk alongside a river to a waterfall at Minnesota’s Banning State Park.

Twelve-foot Wolf Creek Falls await at the end of the 2-mile round trip Wolf Creek Falls Trail. This is not the trail’s official name but has been christened her for convenience’s sake.

To reach the trailhead, from downtown Sandstone take County Road 123/Third Street east toward the Kettle River. Turn left/north onto Old Wagon Road and enter forested Robinson Park. Park in the lot at the road’s end near the boat landing. From there, follow the wide dirt road north. You’re now in Banning State Park.

Through the trees to the west, you’ll catch some great views of the Kettle River as it flows over Quarry Rapids. The river also narrows here, so you may see kayakers walking along the trail as they make a short portage.

The river calms as the trail continues north through a forest. At about 0.45 miles, the trail crosses railroad tracks with a bridge over the river.

The Kettle River runs 83.6 miles flowing out of the northwoods from east of Cromwell. It ultimately joins the St. Croix River at Chengwatana State Forest to the southeast.

Since the last ice age, the Kettle has cut through glacial drift and into an underlying formation of Hinckley Sandstone, deposited here about 545 million years ago. The river was able to do that because it drained ancient Glacial Lake Duluth in a fast-moving flow.

At 0.85 miles into the hike, spring-fed Wolf Creek meets the Kettle. The creek is fairly short, flowing for a bit over 2 miles from outside of the state park.

Just upstream in 0.15 miles on Wolf Creek is the waterfall. To see the highest waterflow, visit in spring or early summer.

After taking in the sights, retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.