5 St. Croix State Park Hikes

With 127 miles of hiking trails, where does a hiker even start?! St. Croix State Park offers a variety of different landscapes to view on it’s numerous hiking trails. Hikers have waterfront river views, burned regrowth, thick pine forest to roam, and deciduous trees galore for autumn color viewing.

Fees: All trails at this park are included in the state park entrance fee of $7 or the yearly state park pass of $35 per vehicle. The vehicle pass is totally worth the investment and can be purchased on the MN DNR website.

1. Two Rivers Loop

Distance: 5 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Time to go: Spring to Autumn

Dog Friendly: Yes

To gain views from both the Kettle River and the larger St. Croix River, take this 5 mile loop and see where the two mighty forces converge. This loop is relatively easy along well maintained trails. The trails along the river are scenic especially in autumn, the only downfall to this trail is that the last 3/4 mile of the loop follows a dirt road. Worth it for the views of the two rivers meeting.

2. Kettle River High Banks

Distance: 3 miles one way, out and back (6 total)

Difficulty: Easy

Time to go: Spring to Autumn

Dog Friendly: Yes

Personal opinion: the BEST views on all of the park trails are on this trail. It also has a potent pine scent lingering in the air in the thicker pine forested areas. The Kettle River Overlook is the first impression upon approaching the river. A breathtaking view and a perfect location for a picnic either on the way out or back. The trail is well maintained and meets up with the Matthew Lourey State Trail that cuts through the park. This is the turn around point.

3. Rivers Edge Trail to River Bluffs Trail Loop

Distance: 1 mile loop, but can be made longer.

Difficulty: Easy

Time to go: Year round, becomes a ski trail in the winter (require state ski pass for 16+ if skiing in winter).

Dog Friendly: Yes, during the snowless months.

The Rivers Edge Trail runs along the St. Croix and loops back using the River Bluffs Trail near the campground. Due to it’s close proximity to the campground, there is more traffic on these trails. The views are still beautiful even if it’s less secluded. We found sign of otters along the river banks, very cool.

4. Sundance Self Guided Trail

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Time to go: Year round, becomes a ski trail in the winter (require state ski pass for 16+ if skiing in winter).

Dog Friendly: Yes

The Sundance Self Guided Trail is the parks interpretive trail. These are great for kids. My little guy loves checking out the signs at state park interpretive trails and reading about the habitat that we’re hiking. The trail begins at the Interpretive Center where visitors can grab a brochure on park info.

5. Matthew Lourey State Trail

The Matthew Lourey State Trail is a trail that stretches 80 miles from the Chengwatana State Forest and ends in the Nemadji State Forest. The trail runs along the outskirts of St. Croix State Park. There are spurs that lead to the more scenic areas of the park for thru-hikers to take in the view.

A Note on Wildlife

While hiking in St. Croix State Park, hikers are entering the home of the animals that live there. Remember that we are just guests visiting, try not to disturb them in their habitat. Follow leave no trace principles and keep your distance. St. Croix is home to an abundance of wildlife including:

  • Black Bear
  • Bobcats
  • White Tail Deer
  • Fox
    • Otter
  • Beaver
  • Racoon
  • Wolves
  • A great number of birds (owls, osprey, eagles, etc…)

We encountered a bear crossing the road on the scenic drive. We slowed to quietly observe her and watched her mosey on about her day.

Bear Spray: If you are nervous about bears in the park, carry a canister of bear spray. We’ve carried bear spray in some areas of northern Minnesota and have yet to need it.

Bonus Restaurant: Tobies! When in Hinkley one cannot miss a stop at Tobies for one of their melt in your mouth caramel rolls. Yum!

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