Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Minn.’s Washington County delivers on trails

Sandstone formations along the St. Croix River at historic Boom Site.
Located along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Minnesota’s Washington County offers a number of great day hiking experiences.

Along the St. Croix River, the county boasts two state parks, including Afton on scenic Lake St. Croix and William O’Brien near Marine on St. Croix. Both parks include river access and trails heading through woodlands and restored prairies.

Also on the river or within viewing distance of it are the Carpenter Nature Center (which boasts apple orchards), St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park, and Belwin Conservancy (which includes a raised platform for watching a small buffalo herd). In the scenic riverway itself is four-story Fairy Falls and the historic Boom Site with its sandstone formations, both just north of Stillwater.

Inland, several county parks deliver impressive hiking opportunities. Most notable among them are Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park, Lake Elmo Park Reserve, and Big Marine Park Reserve. The latter heads around lakes.

All the parks are within an hour’s drive of most of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and west-central Wisconsin.

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