What some waterfalls look like really depends on the time of year. There are some waterfalls you should only visit in the spring, and then there are other waterfalls that have a more reliable flow year-round. I’m not sure if Minneopa Falls “falls” into the spring category, but based on what I saw in October 2011, I would suggest visiting in late spring (since it’s Minnesota)!
There was very little water flowing over the falls, so little that it’s hard to tell in pictures that there is water. It would be a very impressive waterfall when water is abundant. A similar issue was to be had at Minnemishinona Falls nearby. Luckily, the state park that the falls is found is really beautiful and calm. I had a great time exploring the prairies and capturing the blue skies. There is a “Bison Drive” across the road from the falls trail.
In Mankato, head west on US-169 out of the city.
You will come to a turn onto MN-69/Gadwall Road. Turn on MN-69 and drive to the entrance of the state park.
The falls trail will be to the south of Gadwall Road, so you will turn left and enter the park. There are different portions of the park, so these directions are for the waterfall.
There are parking areas and you want to find the one furthest east, as that will be closest to the Falls Trail. The hike to the falls is very quick.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy) Height: 39′ Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip
Mid-October is not always the best time to go looking for waterfalls. The snow has melted long ago, there isn’t a whole lot of precipitation, and the summer months have caused much of the water to evaporate. For some of the larger falls in any area, you may still see a waterfall, but in other cases, not much will be there.
Minnemishinona Falls (say that one time fast) had almost completely disappeared by mid-October 2011. Only a few trickles of water remained, making it rather difficult to even capture the falls. In earlier seasons, the falls might actually be impressive, but I can’t really say that from my experience.
This particular falls is also difficult to capture because of the viewpoint. You’re standing on a bridge with metal bars, and you’ve got to maneuver your camera at the right angle to get a shot. The falls are relatively easy to visit, though, as they are very close to Minneopa State Park (with Minneopa Falls inside). From the parking area, it is also only a short walk to the bridge. (Google Maps also shows another waterfall, Minnewankon Falls, not far from Minnemishinona Falls. It also seems to be surrounding by houses, so I would hazard to guess it’s on private property…)
From Mankato, head west on US-14.
Turn left onto Nicollet County Road 41, which might also be signed as Rockford Road.
Rockford Road then turns into Judson Bottom Road.
Just after turning into Judson Bottom Road, you may notice a bridge off to your left going over a river. The falls are in front of that bridge. Continue just a short distance to a dirt parking area on your left. It may seem a little misleading because of the maintenance shed, but park here.
Head back to the bridge to view the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside