Hiking Club Loop

Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, Minnesota

Trip Date: Saturday, July 8th, 2017
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★☆☆☆☆(1/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2 miles roundtrip
Time 1 hour
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons Spring, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

This was the worst Hiking Club trail I've done thus far. The loop offers little scenery despite climbing to the top of a hill -- the dense forest blocks the view, and there is a hilariously placed park bench looking at nothing but trees. I recommend doing this hike in early spring or late fall when there isn't as much vegetation (this trail unfortunately isn't open in winter).

Like most Hiking Club trails, this is a family friendly hike. Dogs are allowed on leash. Know that this park has the most horseback riders of any Minnesota State Park, so watch where you step!

I recommend doing this loop clockwise so you can get the hill out of the way at the beginning. From the parking lot, head towards the amphitheater, then follow the trail south through a tall patch of fennel like pictured below. Turn left after walking past the cabins to follow the Maple Ridge Trail uphill (there should be blue signs for the Hiking Club) -- the other trail goes to Big Spring.

Trail carved through towering fennel

Trail carved through towering fennel
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The top of the hill is quite anticlimactic given the lack of a view (see image below), but at least now the remainder of the hike will be mostly flat. After descending the hill, cross the main park road near the park office to continue on the trail. At the trail intersection ahead, turn left for a quick look at Forestville Creek -- this is some of the only decent scenery you will get on this hike -- then turn around and go straight through that intersection. Ahead, turn left at the next intersection to see the bridge over the South Branch Root River (pictured at the top of the page), then return to the main trail and continue heading south.
This bench faces away from the trail as if there was a scenic view or overlook here

This bench faces away from the trail as if there was a scenic view or overlook here
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Eventually, the trail ends at a campground. Follow the road through the campground and look for the blue Hiking Club signs. There will be a kiosk and a trail heading south, slightly uphill; do not go this way! Instead, keep hiking west on the road until you meet the trail. Follow this trail back to the parking lot near the amphitheater.

Really, the only reason you should do this hike is if you are collecting Hiking Club passwords. Otherwise, save your steps for something more remarkable, like Historic Forestville or the Big Spring Trail. If you do this hike for whatever reason, be sure to use the comment section below to let me know how it went and use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!


Be careful when using navigation to direct you to this park! You must enter the park from the west side using County Road 118 after turning from County Road 5; otherwise if you enter from the north, you will run into a dead end at a closed bridge and will be unable to access the rest of the park.

From the Twin Cities, take U.S. Highway 52 south towards Rochester. On the south side of Rochester, take the exit for U.S. Highway 63 heading south. At the T intersection a bit after Racine, turn left to continue on U.S. Highway 63. Then in Spring Valley, continue heading straight onto Minnesota Highway 63 rather than staying on U.S. Highway 63. Turn right on County Road 5, then turn left on County Road 118 following the signs for Forestville State Park. The park office will be on the right hand side. Pay your fee, then turn right following signs for the amphitheater. Turn right again towards the amphitheater before the loops for the campgrounds and park in the lot on the right side.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Like all Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas, you must pay a vehicle entry fee of $7 per day or $35 for an annual pass (highly recommended if you frequently go to Minnesota State Parks). There are pit toilets near the amphitheater.

Nearby Hikes

The cold, clear waters of South Branch Root River reflecting the afternoon sun.
Big Spring Trail
Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, Minnesota
See these historic buildings from the 19th Century in Forestville State Park
Historic Forestville Loop
Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, Minnesota
The otherworldly geology found deep within Mystery Cave
Mystery Cave Geology Tour
Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, Minnesota
A flower filled meadow awaits you after an uphill climb
North Meadow Trail
Oxbow Park, Minnesota

External Links