6 Hikes in Blue Mounds State Park

Hikes ranging from easy to strenuous, something for every hiking level, both short hikes and long hikes. Rocky outcroppings, vast prairie vistas, cacti and so much more at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota.

Blue Mounds State Park sits at the south western tip of Minnesota. Offering vast prairies, rocky vistas, dramatic cliffs and unique wildlife viewing, this park is a can’t miss on any south western Minnesota trip. Strap on those hiking shoes and get exploring.

Hiking Club Loop

Distance: Approximately 6.5 miles

Level: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash.

The Hiking Club trail covers a vast majority of the park and includes the Mound Trail, Eagle Rock, Upper Cliffline, and Mound Creek trails. This trail features views of the bison herd, a stop at the Eagle Rock and Eagle Rock Vista, cliff views from above on the Upper Cliffline and a trek around the viewing pond and Mound Creek. The only downside of this trail is that hikers won’t see the views of the cliffs from below.

Bur Oak Trail

Distance: 3/4 mile (one way)

Level: Strenuous

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash. I would recommend taking only dogs accustomed to rough terrain and are in great hiking condition. Our senior Great Dane is not new to difficult terrain, but she was very tired after a steep section on this hike. You know your hiking companion, use your best judgement.

Bur Oak Trail can be accessed from either the Eagle Rock Vista parking area or the rock climbing parking area. Hikers will traverse the bur oak forest into the steep descent below the cliff line for startling sights of the rocky cliffs. Definitely one of the coolest parts of the hikes available at Blue Mounds.

Upper Cliff Line

Distance: 1.5 miles (One way, can be combined with other trails to form a loop.)

Level: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash.

Great for jaw dropping and knee weakening views atop Blue Mounds’ cliffs and historic quarry site. Venture (carefully) to edge of the cliff to see the drop to the historic quarry below. This hike is amazing, hikers are sandwiched between two different landscapes. On one side, vast prairie with a cool breeze. On the other side, a rocky outcropping with a sheer drop. The great thing about this trail is that it offers these amazing views and features while remaining an easily traversed trail with a flat, well maintained trail.

Mound Trail

Distance: 1.5 Miles (One way, can be combined with other trail to form a loop.)

Level: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash.

A long trail bordering the edge of the bison range, the turf is grass that is well maintained. This trail can be combined with the Upper Cliffline trail to make a loop. It leads from the parking area passed the park office to the Eagle Rock Vista, passing Eagle Rock and another viewing area for the bison.

Lower Cliff Line

Distance: 1 mile (One way)

Level: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash.

This shorter trail features distant views of the cliff line. It is a simple mowed grass trail that can be combined with the Upper Cliffline trail for a longer hike with a larger variety of scenery. This trail can also meet up with the paved bike path which offers spurs to the rock climbing areas and historic quarry.

Nature Trail

Distance: 1/4 mile, out and back

Level: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash.

Located near the nature play area this short hike is a great spot for a moment of peace, bird watching, and catching a glimpse of the creek traveling through the park. The bench at the end of this trail looks like the perfect place to settle down with a good book, if one is not hiking with kids of course.

Our Trail Adventure

We started our day off at the bison viewing deck. Early in the morning the bison were immediately in front of the gate and deck. The mothers and their babies were so sweet together.

Next, we started our attempt at the hiking trail beginning at the Mound Trail next to the Bison Range. After a quarter of a mile, Killian needed to poop. Such is the way when hiking with a 3 year old. We turned around to used the vaulted toilet at the trail head.

Instead of continuing on the Mound Trail, we explored the Nature Trail instead, a good call. Killian was able to toss some pebbles into the river, his favorite! We also sauntered over to the bridge that crosses Mound Creek.

After some free time at the Nature Play Area, we loaded into the car to drive to Eagle Rock Vista. From there we explored and climbed Eagle Rock and admired the cacti, prairie grasses, and butterflies.

Next, it was onto the Cliffline parking area where we tackled a portion of the Bur Oak Trail, a short section of the Upper Cliffline and returned to the vehicle via a steep descent passed the rock climbing area to the paved bike path.

Our goofy array of hiking exploration actually gave us some of the best views in the park without pushing our junior hikers and senior dog too hard in the July heat and Canadian fire smoke. We had a great view of the historic quarry, witnessed rock climbers at their work, experienced some of the parks most rugged trails and peaceful prairie. In total ,we hiked about 3 miles and were able to experience the most inspiring views in the park.

Make the most of your hike in Blue Mounds. Keep in mind that not every hike needs to an A to B kind of hike. Sometimes a little jaunt here and short excursion there is the best way to keep junior hikers interested, stay flexible.

Tips for Hiking Blue Mounds

  • Bring plenty of water (for your hiking dog too).
  • Wear proper footwear and dress for the weather.
  • Use sunscreen, much of the trails do not offer shade.
  • Stay on trails, cacti are present and can poke through clothing and thin footwear.
  • Carry a map, little cell service is available
  • The Tasty Drive-In located in Luverne, just 6 miles south of the park, has a number of delicious treats. They even have a butterscotch milkshake, yum!
  • Bonus Park: Split Rock Creek State Park

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