Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hike to waterfall, historic site near Stillwater

Sandstone formations along St. Croix Boom Site Trail.
Though known for its boutiques and restaurants, Stillwater, Minn., also offers a few good trails for day hikers to explore.

Among them are:
Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve Ski Trail – The Brown’s Creek Park and Nature Preserve Ski Trail offers among the best day hiking option in the Stillwater area. It gives you a good sense of what a blufftop woodlands area is like. A parking lot is off of County Road 64/McKusick Road North past Maryland Avenue North. The Browns Creek State Trail, of which the ski trail is a segment of, also can be picked up on the north side of downtown next to the former depot.
Fairy Falls Trail – A little-known four-story waterfall is located north of town. For years, the short quarter-mile round trip was located on private land but is now operated by National Park Service as part of a 55-acre addition to the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The Fairy Falls Day Use Area is open 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily with the trailhead at the intersection of Fairy Falls Road North and Orwell Avenue.
Gateway State Trail – The eastern terminus of the trail begins at Pine Point Regional Park north of Stillwater. A good segment to take is the 4.2 miles from the park to just north of Duluth Junction. Along the way, the trail crosses a creek and boasts two picnic areas. Much of this segment passes farm fields. A fee is charged to enter the park.
St. Croix Boom Site Trail – Families can day hike a historical remnant from the St. Croix River’s lumber baron days north of town at a wayside off of Minn. Hwy. 95. The trail runs a mere 0.4-miles round trip but makes for a scenic diversion. A century-and-a-half-ago ago, the site was a bustling center of activity a where men pulled logs from the St. Croix River and sent them on their way to sawmills.

Learn more about nearby day hiking trails in my Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.