|Distance||0.75 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
- Stunning views from two overlooks
- Easy hike with big rewards
Possibly the easiest hike in the park, this quick walk on two short trails to the North and South Overlooks of the Mississippi River bluffs rewards you with the best views in southern Minnesota. Though the hike won't occupy much of your time, it's a memorable spot to visit adjacent to picnic grounds, making this a great place to spend a nice afternoon.
The Y-shaped trail starts by passing the picnic area. At the intersection ahead, you can choose to go left towards the North Overlook or right towards the South Overlook. You'll walk by a more secluded picnic spot, then you'll soon reach the overlook with the grand view pictured below. The spectacular bluff-lined river scene in front of you is typical of the southeastern edge of Minnesota and the Driftless Area, an area of the Midwest that escaped the flattening effects of glaciers in the last ice age.
Dogs are allowed on leash. With a short distance, beautiful views, and picnic facilities at the trailhead, this is a great hike for families. You can hike this trail in any season, including winter; fall colors here are particularly amazing thanks to the topography and overlooks here and throughout the park. I visited on a Monday and saw a few people, so I would expect to see many more especially because the park is only an hour from Rochester and 2 and a half hours from the Twin Cities.
From the Twin Cities, take U.S. Highway 52 south towards Rochester. Take the exit for Interstate 90 heading east towards La Crosse. Take the exit for County Highway 12, turn left, then turn right on County Highway 3. Turn right on Kipp Drive and continue into the park. Pay the entrance fee, then continue straight. Drive until there is a fork in the road, then turn left, following the signs for the picnic grounds.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Vehicle permits are $7/day or $35/year (the annual pass pays for itself after 5 visits!). There are restrooms and a picnic area near the lot.