Nestled between the mighty Mississippi River and Minnehaha Creek, Minnehaha Park offers its visitors 10-miles of hiking trails, handsome views of the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, and one of Minneapolis’ best dog off-leash areas.
The roaring of Minnehaha Falls echoes from within the small gorge and guides its visitors to its several viewing platforms. On average, Minnehaha Falls brings in 850,000 visitors each year, making it one of Minneapolis’ most popular sites. So don’t be surprised to see crowds of people gawking at the mighty falls, especially on weekends.
What Makes It Great
From the upper deck, there are two stairways down into the Minnehaha Falls gorge. Once within the gorge, there is a small bridge that offers the best seat in town. During a warm, windy day, there is nothing better than sitting on the bridge and letting the falls’ mist cool you down. Before leaving this area, there is a small lookout that has the best photo in town.
Let the steep limestone bluffs lead you south along the creek. The first section of the trails is very flat and within minutes, you reach a second bridge that leads to a natural wading pool. It is often full of children, but cooling off your feet in Minnehaha’s cool waters is always a welcome treat. Also, there are staircases nearby if you decide to return to theMinnehaha Recreation area.
After the wading pool, follow the trail on the right side of the river. Within a handful of steps, the trail becomes more rugged and the exposed roots require a bit of maneuvering. Though still a very well used trail, the ruggedness gives its users the feeling that they are not hiking in the middle of a city. Not to mention that the oak, elm, and silver maple trees mute the city sounds above.
Near the Minnehaha’s confluence, the trail reaches a beach. To your right, there are trails up into the limestone bluffs and to your left (across the bridge) is a second trail that loops back to Minnehaha Falls. Before turning back, it is recommended to relax at this quiet beach and enjoy the sounds of the mighty Mississippi River.
Who is Going to Love It
If you’re new in town and are looking for a very Minneapolis thing to do, then visiting the scenic Minnehaha Falls must be at the top of your list. Not only does this park feature great hiking trails and views of the only natural waterfall in town, but there are also loads of things to do. During the warmer months, Minnehaha Park host’s weekly music in the park, Wheel Fun Rental offers daily/hourly bike rentals, and Sea Salt Eatery scoops up some tasty ice cream. Or drive 7 minutes to Blue Door for a hunger-quenching burger.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The park is open from 6 a.m. to 12p.m. Phone number is 612 230-6400.
Parking at Minnehaha park can be a bit tricky. If you don’t mind paying for parking, then there are a few designated parking areas. Two are off Godfrey Parkway, while the third is south on Minnehaha Avenue. There is also meter parking along Minnehaha Ave. If you want free parking, then turn onto 46th Avenue S and park in the neighborhoods north of Minnehaha Park.
If you’re looking for the Dog Off-Leash Area, there is metered parking available on Minnehaha Parkway. Free parking is across Hiawatha. Take E 54th Street and turn right onto 48th Avenue S. Parking is available on this street.
Except for the Dog Off-Leash Area, which is in the southern corridor of the park, all trailheads start at the Minnehaha Falls Picnic and Recreation Area. The park is split between the upper part and the lower part. There are paved paths on the upper part of the park, which feature small gardens, viewing platforms of the Minnehaha Falls, and the historic Steven’s House. The lower part requires a climb down steep steps, but features majestic views of the Minnehaha, a natural wading pool, and trails leading to the confluence of the Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River.