Hike "The Mound" at Blue Mounds State Park

Added by Robin Pfeifer

100 ft tall Sioux quartzite cliff. 1,500 acres of prairie and grassland. 500-acre bison preserve. Rock climbing and hiking opportunities abound. 3-mile loop. Elevation gain is 100 feet (prairie to top of The Mound).

The badlands of South Dakota meet the prairies of Minnesota in Blue Mounds State Park.

Located in the extreme southwestern corner of Minnesota, Blue Mounds is one of the largest prairie parks in the state. A majority of the 1,500 acres of grassland sits atop a massive outcrop of Sioux quartzite rock known as "The Mound." Its cliffline rises gently from the surrounding prairie, topping out at nearly 100 feet.

To get here, enter the park along U.S Highway 75. There is a small fee for a daypass ($5). Follow the main park road (Country Rd. 20) past the group and hike-in campsites and park in the small lot next to South Mound Creek Pool.

Pick up the trailhead for the Lower Cliffline Trail here and walk south for 1.5 miles through tall grasses and wildflowers. The cliffline will appear on your right, gradually at first, then rising high overhead. Hike or climb to the top for spectacular views of the surrounding farm fields and grasslands. While you're up there, keep an eye out for prickly pear cactus blooms growing out of the rock and hawks circling overhead.

Pick up the Mound Trail at the top of the rock and head north for approximately 1.5 miles to get back to the parking lot. Along the way, you'll pass by the 500-acre bison preserve situated in the middle of the park. The 100-head herd can be spotted taking dust baths near the fence early in the morning and late in the day.

Post-hike, drive to nearby Luverne for a drink at the new Take 16 Brewing Company. Their tap room is open for growler refills and sampling on Thursdays from 4-7pm.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area


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Off the Beaten Path in Southern Minnesota

I have always loved Minnesota's state parks. There is so much beauty in my home state and you don't even have to travel that far to find it! I hiked about half of this trail with my younger cousins (who are 12 and 9), and it was a bit more difficult than other parks we have been to. The terrain gets pretty rocky and steep at some parts, so be cautious when bringing your kids. I am planning to go back with the 12 year old soon so that we can try to hike the entire thing, but it is a full days trip! They have very nice trail markings and maps, and even have a bathroom where the Bur Oak Trail meets the paved bike path, we had to use it twice since we were gone for so long. Bring your bug-spray and sunscreen, because the wooded sections are full of mosquitos, and the prairie lands are hot in the middle of the day. But, the views are incredible! Our favorite spot is the historic quarry, where you can see all around you for miles! Be careful though, because there are no guardrails to stop you from going over the edge, so if you have little kids or pets, make sure you know where they are at all times. Again, I had a 12 year old and a 9 year old with me, and I was nervous about them getting too close to the edge. If you are looking for a more advanced state park in the Southern Minnesota area, Luverne is a neat town and Blue Mound is a beautiful park! Can't wait to go back and hike the whole thing!

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