Walk Across the Mississippi River in Itasca SP

Itasca State Park Visitors Center

This an amazing but very easy hike. The hike is not only a beautiful place to see wildlife, fish the lake and watch an amazing sunset, but the entire hike also teaches you about the history of the area and how the Mississippi River got its start. Walk across the mighty Mississippi River in Itasca State Park, MN.

At the Headwaters Trailhead there is a visitor center, bathrooms and a large interactive station for kids and adults to learn interesting facts about the Mississippi and the history of the area. The hike itself is just over a mile and completely flat. The trail follows the small Mississippi River to Lake Itasca or the Mississippi Headwaters.

We saw plenty of turtles, rabbits and deer along the trail, and the headwaters is beautiful. There is a small stone walkway you can use to hop your way across the river, or a large wooden walkway if you don't want to get wet. But if you are really feeling adventurous, hike right across the only three feet deep Mississippi just to say you did it!

We arrived about an hour before sunset and swam in the lake. Stay for the sunset to get the most beautiful shots as the blood orange and red sky mirrors on the smooth glass lake.

For more trail information: Itasca State Park Map

Pack List

  • Water in Summer
  • Headlamp if watching sunset
  • Shoes or boots you can get wet
  • Swim Suit in Summer
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen in Summer
  • Fishing Pole
  • Insect repellent
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RT Distance 1 Miles
Elevation Gain 0 Feet
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Family Friendly
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Walking “Across” The Mississippi River

Its an ok experience. I think for kids and nature dweebs this is a 5 star experience. I rate it a 3. To say “I walked across the Mississippi River”, is cool I guess. The real 5 star experience is creek stomping from the Headwaters area for as far as you can safely go down the river. Its a blast to do. That and canoeing and camping on the state parks property. Plus, the call of the loons on a starry night are also an amazing experience during the spring.

Itasca = one of the premiere Minnesota State Parks

Itasca State Park is one of my favorite northern getaways, with trails that traverse through diverse habitats, varied topography, and breathtaking views across the lake. There are a number of canoe/kayak/paddleboard outfitters around the lake, including University of Minnesota's Itasca Biological Station, where I generally stay. The climate is ideal, the bugs aren't bad, sunrises and sunsets over the lake are mind-blowing, and the breeding birds (full disclosure: birding is one of the main reasons I go here) are some of the best in Minnesota for the quality of the trails. The full set of eastern wood-warblers, thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, sparrows, and more, not to mention some rarer gems like the burned-forest specialist Black-backed Woodpecker. Lots to find and always more to explore! Get out there!

Gravely Underestimated; I ADORE this place

Everyone should have the opprotunity to walk across the rocks at the headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park. I grew up going to this state park and I could not love it more. Douglas Lodge, the loons, all the bike trails, the evergreen trees, Lake Itasca, and of course the Mississippi river all make this park incredibly unique. If you ever have the chance, please visit this park!


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