Willow River State Park

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I’ve been quite distracted with life & other adventures this past month.  Since I’m stuffed with turkey and cannot move much, figured now is a good time for catch-up on my posting backlog.  Stay tuned, I have about 20 new places to share in the pipeline!

Back to this post originally from 10/20: Continuing on my fall colors tour, the next stop was Willow River State Park in Hudson, WI near the Twin Cities.  I was able to reserve a campsite online and the weather was perfect in the 70s (rain for the morning but we’ll cover that later).  I still had plenty of daylight so I set up camp first then hit the trails to see the main attraction – a huge waterfall aptly named Willow Falls.  Trail was extremely well groomed.  Path down to the falls was paved but very steep and slippery due to heavy fallen leaf cover.

Once down at the falls the roar of the water gave a fast impression of just how much water is moving downstream.  Quite a few people were taking in the scenery and playing near/in the water (not necessarily advisable) but not overly crowded.  There is a large seating deck and bridge providing ample space for enjoying the view.  The falls have several tiers that span about a hundred yards and gain more elevation than I had expected.  Very large and powerful.

Checked my map and time of day, then headed back up the trail to the north overlook point to make a loop back to the car.  I only saw one other hiker here briefly, but otherwise had it all to myself.  This is a very peaceful area with well-groomed trails that are very easy.  The view from the north overlook was fantastic albeit partially obstructed by the trees.  The sun was starting to get low on the horizon which lit up the red & brown hue of the leaves in spectacular fashion.

Since there are so many trails here, I quit hiking for now and resolved to come back another time in the future.  I drove to the opposite end of the park and discovered that the “little falls” area lake/stream was dammed off for ecological purposes.  The water was dried up, but across the field were large swaths of forest with great colors.

Decided to eat my hobo dinner here as it was completely void of people.  I’ve been steadily progressing in my quest to find backpacking foods for possible future thru-hikes.  The first and obvious choice was to test the famous Skurka Beans and Rice which I pre-packed at home.  I must say this was quite delicious and a good base for all the whiskey I drank after returning to camp!

Hiking Data

I took a somewhat planned loop here parking near the main entrance.  Knapweed Trail > Pioneer Trail > ?grey trail? > looped back to Pioneer > bumbled through the 100 campsite back to parking lot.  Could have done it much faster but I like taking photos and smelling the roses.  Nice relaxing ~3 miles with perfect weather.

Lat = 45.0138931 , Long = -92.6839066 -- Show at Google Maps

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