|Distance||2.9 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
- Narrow trail through beautiful forest with a wide variety of trees
- Sprawling prairie
- Overlook of the Kinnickinnic River Gorge with a glimpse of Hidden Falls
Unlike the other Hidden Falls hikes near the Twin Cities (in Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park near Northfield), this Hidden Falls is actually hidden and you can only see a small glimpse of the waterfall at the bottom of the ravine. However, the wide open prairie at the start of the hike is full of stunning wildflowers and the intimately narrow trail snaking through the forest provides an exceptionally fun and scenic experience. If you're expecting a monumental cascade at the terminus of the hike, you will be sorely disappointed. Even so, the scenery here is fantastic, and this is the most fun hike in the entire park.
There are no other trails in this part of the park, so navigation is simple. From the parking lot, the trail leads into a tallgrass prairie. The picture below of the flowers I saw does not do the vivid colors justice -- you'll have to go to experience the glory yourself.
Eventually you'll pop back out for another foray through the prairie. Ahead there is a clearing with a bench offering you beautiful views like in the first picture below. You'll return to the forest and will see scenes like the second picture below with nice grasses and happy trees. The loop ends and you'll turn right to retrace your steps through the pines and prairie back to the parking lot.
Dogs are allowed on leash. While this is a bit longer than most other family friendly hikes on this site, I think this is an excellent trail that will hold everyone's attention the entire duration. If your family just isn't ready for something this long, there are plenty of other trails in the main portion of the park to suit your needs. This trail is good for all four seasons; in the winter, this trail becomes a snowshoe trail and as such is also available for hiking. The varied landscape provides new surprises with each season: wildflowers in spring, bright green foliage in summer, changing colors in fall, and frozen wasteland in winter. I did this on a Sunday afternoon, and there were a handful of people on the trail. Since the trailhead is separated from the main part of the park and other attractions like the beach and sledding hill, it is unlikely this will ever see the traffic of the other trails.
From the Twin Cities, take Interstate 94 east to Hudson. Exit at Carmichael Road, then turn right. Follow this road straight -- the name changes to County Road F. Turn right on 820th Avenue (there should be a sign for Kinnickinnic State Park), then turn left into the park. Pay the fee at the park office, then turn around and return to County Road F. Turn right, then turn right on 770th Avenue (dirt road). The parking lot is a small dirt lot on the right side in the middle of a prairie.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
If you have Wisconsin license plates on your vehicle, parking is $8 for the day or $28 for an annual pass valid at all Wisconsin State Parks and Forests. If you are from out of state, parking is $11 for the day or $38 for an annual pass (you recoup your cost after just 4 visits!). See details here. There are no facilities at this lot.
Kinnickinnic State Park, Wisconsin
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