Hike in Wild River State Park
Minnesota › McElroy Visitor Center
Added by Robin Pfeifer
Explore a variety of environments: forests, prairies and the St. Croix RiverScenic individual and group camp sites; rent a log cabin4 mile loop hike starting on the River Trail
Wild River State Park, located about 55 miles northeast of Minneapolis, is a fantastic getaway and caters to a wide-variety of visitors. If you have an afternoon and are looking for an easy hike through a variety of natural environments, take The River Trail north, then follow the Old Lodging Trail south. The loop is about 4 miles of well-established trail and is very popular on the weekends. Go mid-week and you’ll have it to yourself.
To get there, park in the lot near the McElroy Visitor Center. You can pick up the Mitigwaki Loop trail right off the parking lot. Walk a short distance, then follow the signs east toward the Amik’s Pond loop. This portion of the trail winds through prairie grass tall enough to partially conceal its namesake pond.
The scenery shifts from field to stream once you reach the River Trail, which runs alongside the St. Croix River. About a half mile in, the trail narrows and winds through a beautiful stand of birch trees. Tucked into the trees are Spring Creek's eight backpack camping sites.
Walk another half mile and you’ll see the site of Old Nevers Dam. Built in the 1890's to help prevent log jams, the dam was considered an environmental nuisance by the 1950's and dismantled. Remnants of a 600-foot-long earthen dike remain today in the form of tiny islands dotting the width of the river.
Continue heading north on the River Terrace Loop for a half mile, then take the wooden stairs up the hill to the main campgrounds. There you’ll find six log cabins for rent. A few come equipped with electricity and heat for winter campers. Beyond the cabins are 94 semi-modern campsites (34 with electrical hookups), modern shower buildings and a rentable guest house that accommodates a maximum of six people.
After exploring the campgrounds, pick up the Old Lodging Trail heading south. This path winds through an impressive variety of deciduous and coniferous trees. Remember to keep one eye on the trees and one eye on the path ahead of you; snakes have a tendency to scurry out in front of unsuspecting hikers along this route.
Continue following the trail until you reach the Mitigwaki Loop. Then, follow the signs back to the McElroy Visitor Center.
- Light daypack
- Trail map
- Sturdy shoes
- Cash for permit
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