Thirty-two miles southeast of Minneapolis and tucked away in picturesque Minnesota countryside, you will find the trail entrance for the St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. Though small compared to other Washington County parks, this park makes up for it with its charm. With 3,800 feet of tranquil St. Croix River shoreline and 5 miles of hiking trails, this park is perfect for a day’s escape from the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities.
What Makes It Great
Very nearby the park entrance is a 3-mile loop that meanders through mixed conifer forest and forested ridgeline. Though this trail does not feature sandy shores, it is farther away from the campground, which means this trail tends to be quieter. If all you want is to be by yourself, then this trail is perfect for you. Let the shade of the mixed conifer forest and sounds of nature envelope you. If you want to see St. Croix’s waters, then there are trails near the boat launch on the eastern end of the park. Parking at the boat launch, first follow the signs to the beach. On a hot summer day, this beach is full of life and laughter, but during the early spring and fall, it is very tranquil. Except for the occasional boat whizzing by, this beach provides a great napping spot for the weary hiker. If you brought a fishing pole, then you’re in luck; walleye and muskellunge inhabit these waters. There is epically big Lake Sturgeon as well, but their fishing season is only in the month of September.
From the boat launch, a small wooden bridge leads you up to a forested ravine. Following the signs for the campground, veer right through a windy trail. Prepare yourself for a short, but steep climb up the ravine. The trail flattens, and during the fall and early spring, you can catch glimpses of the scenic and wild St. Croix River Valley. When you reach the campground exit, turn left and continue following the trail. As you walk along, you’ll notice that a lot of red cedars grow in-between the stands of maple and oak trees. Especially during the fall, the yellow and orange foliage above highlights the red cedar bark below. The trail forks again. To see the best view of the whole park, follow the trail east and then turn left at the next trail intersection. Within 30 yards, you will see a sign for the overlook. As the trail dead ends, there is a bench, perfectly placed beside two red cedars, that offers the most spectacular views of the St. Croix River Valley.
Who is Going to Love It
If you’re looking for a park that is off the beaten track, then St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park is the perfect place for you. With its scenic views of the St. Croix River and secluded hiking trails, hikers will be overjoyed by St. Croix Bluff’s splendor.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The park opens at 7am and closes 30 minutes after sunset. Similar to most Minnesota state parks, there is a $5 dollar fee to enter, so make sure to stop by the visitor center. If the center is closed, use the honorary fee box.