Osceola Bedrock Glades Falls

Trying to squeeze in one last stop today as the sun was falling low on the horizon, I stopped at the trailhead for the Ridge View Trail: Osceola Loop in Osceola, Wisconsin. This is easy to find on River Road / County S and there is a small parking lot that holds maybe 10 vehicles. The area is jointly managed by the National Park Service as part of the St Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Wisconsin DNR who owns part of the land which is part of the Osceola Bedrock Glades State Natural Area.

The trail is very well maintained and relatively flat, and at this time of day with the orange hues of the fading sun it is an amazing scene.

Not far up the trail there is a fork with the left route going to the Osceola Loop and the right route going to the Chisago Loop connector. We are heading down the Chisago trail but only for a brief time.

Just past a bridge that crosses over the unnamed creek, and a few steps through the brush, we get our first glimpses of some small features in the form of a rock garden. The creek loops around in a big wide arc and we aren’t exploring this section, but I do wonder if there are more small rapids to be found here. Maybe for another trip.

Continuing on the Chisago Loop connector you’ll notice the trail is almost dead straight and leads through a dense tunnel of trees. All the golden leaves are really popping right now.

A few hundred yards more and we come to a slight fork. The right path continues on the Chisago Loop, and the left path goes off the beaten trail. Take the left route and head through a small grassy meadow and follow the sound of moving water.

After a couple hundred yards we get our first glimpse. The “main” falls here are a long cascade that spans maybe 100 feet and drops around 20 feet (but don’t take my word for it, I’m not the best at estimating heights).

Here’s the best shot I could get at the very top of the falls. The creek that was once quite peaceful now drops abruptly and cascades down. Word of advice: if you are intending to visit for photos, use a very wide lens or even a wide angle cell phone camera. Hard to capture this all since you basically have to stand with a foot almost in the water to see it.

Looking downstream from this same spot, the falls vary greatly as they step down across the submerged uneven rocks.

It’s difficult to find solid footing at the bottom and this is as close as I could get, but you can still see how the cascade leans at a steep diagonal angle before leveling out again.

Smaller rapids and falls continue downstream and for a time the creek narrows. The trail moves away from the creek here and you have to loop around a large area of dense brush but the single track path eventually joins back to the water.

Another small drop across a line of boulders and fallen logs. You can see other rapids upstream in this photo but from the shore I’m on there is nowhere to stand and that tall grass blocks any views.

At the end of the trail there is one last large patch of rocky rapids. Beyond that, the ground gets a bit swampy as it heads out towards the St Croix River through a patch of lagoons, lakes, and islands. At this same time I had run out of daylight so it was off to camp before one last day on this expedition.

Hall Of Shame

Special mention to this incosiderate young fool who brought his mountain bike on the trail that is clearly posted as foot traffic only. He even stood there for a while looking right at me and considering his life choices before ultimately giving in to selfish desires. Congrats, I called in your plates to the National Park Service tipline and I hope someone found you. I’m assuming the jersey that says “Chisago Lakes” is a school sponsored team so I hope they are proud too! Take notice those of you who blatantly disregard rules and regulations: I vow to hold you accountable any chance I can get.


Here’s a video of my short hike and the falls in action.

Hiking Data

Here’s a path of my hike. A few things to point out…First, I should have chosen a different color for my path than light blue which almost looks like water. Oh well, you get the idea. Second, I don’t think this part of the map is accurate of where the water flows adn certainly there doesn’t seem to be a large pond as shown in the area by my markers where the falls start. I could be wrong but it didn’t look the same on that day. Either way it’s a fairly direct hike and easy to locate.

Round trip distance 1.2 miles with 130 feet elevation change, most of it nearest the falls. Overall fairly easy compared to some others, but I’d call it moderate difficulty for the small parts of bushwhacking across uneven terrain. Good footwear goes a long way here so leave your flip-flops at home and enjoy the stroll.

Lat = 45.3503113 , Long = -92.6911621 -- Show at Google Maps

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