Kinnikinnic State Park

More intermittent rain today but not enough precipitation to stop my plans. Next up was some hiking at Kinnikinnic State Park in River Falls, Wisconsin. To be honest I didn’t know much about this park before visiting but afterwards it’s easy to see why it’s a special place.

From the far west parking area I started by visiting the small beach on the St. Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi River and a natural feature that defines the boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is also designated as the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway by the National Park Service giving it extra protections & resources for conservation.

Access to this beach is via the Black Trail, a short blacktop service road with a severely steep incline. Here’s a view while hiking back up. Even if you are in good shape you’ll probably need to go slow or stop once. This part is brutal but worth it.

Back at the top parking lot I made my way around the Purple Trail to a scenic overlook with a nice boardwalk and platform. There’s one of those #ScenicWisconsin selfie stands by so you already know it’s something cool.

Something new: a small “NO DRONES” placard on the overlook path. I’ve never seen this but it’s a welcome sight. I just purchased a drone (spring 2020) and after going through FAA regulations any responsible drone operator should know it is illegal to fly within Wisconsin state parks per NR45 45.04(1)(c). Please be mindful of the rules and don’t ruin it for the rest of us!

Here’s the overlook views across the Kinnikinnic River Delta and St. Croix Rivers. Rain clouds today are very moody and sporadically dripping on my head but frankly I don’t mind a bit – some of my favorite photos have dramatic clouds like this and I feel add so much more than clear blue skies.

Also near the overlook is a historic plaque detailing how private citizens formed an organization spurring the area to be protected by the Wisconsin DNR and ultimately made into a state park in 1972.

I hiked in a modified loop crossing several trails covering the western park sections.  Purple and Green trails are quite heavily wooded with some elevation changes (nothing crazy but it’s not completely flat like the rest of our state – quite refreshing actually).

Going counter-clockwise the Purple trail eventually leads into the Yellow/Orange trails which open up into combination forest and open prairie and meadows.

A majority of the Yellow trail is very open and gives some great panoramic views across the prairie – something great on a day like this with moody clouds. These trails are also groomed for cross-country skiing in winter months and I’m sure would offer much different but equally impressive scenery.


My loop today covered about 3.5 miles which were not very difficult other than the big incline of the Black trail. Everything else is fairly level and a nice walk. Didn’t see but 2 other people all day but this would be a great place to come for a nice weekend walk.

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