If you live near Minneapolis/St. Paul, Cascade Falls right across the border in Wisconsin is an easy waterfall to visit. It’s found in the city/village of Osceola. When you arrive in Osceola, you park on Cascade Street/Wisconsin-35 near a number of shops and restaurants. Then you head to the trail, which leads you into Wilke Glen and to Cascade Falls.
Cascade Falls is definitely a worthwhile waterfall to visit. It’s big enough and in a beautiful setting to make a point of stopping. The hike does involve some stairs to get you from the street down into the glen, but once you’re down in the glen, you get to see a 25′ tall, rather wide waterfall. It might actually be taller or have more drops, but the way the waterfall turns, it’s hard to see above the main drop.
Once you’ve seen the waterfall, you can keep walking along the trail. It doesn’t lead anywhere wildly exciting, though you can get some cool views of the St. Croix River and the bridge crossing the river which connects Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Head toward Osceola, which you can get to from WI-35 or MN-95.
Once you reach Osceola, you can find parking along the main stretch in town, which is WI-35, also called Cascade Street. A landmark that may help is the Watershed Cafe.
Just north of the Watershed Cafe, you’ll find some information signs telling you about Wilke Glen and the falls, and there will be stairs leading downhill. After you finish climbing down the stairs, the waterfall will come into view on the left.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate due to the stairs) Height: 25′ Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
I didn’t know what to expect from Shadow Falls. I was visiting Minnesota and Wisconsin this past weekend, and flew in and out of Minneapolis. I had a few waterfalls on Wisconsin on my list, but I didn’t really have any from Minnesota on my radar. Luckily I brought one of the books that included Shadow Falls. The description was somewhat helpful, but didn’t really reveal how interesting Shadow Falls could be.
A few years ago, I had visited Hidden Falls, which is on the same side of the Mississippi River. It’s an interesting park, but Hidden Falls didn’t have much water and had aspects of human touches. I maybe expected that from the photos I saw of Shadow Falls. What I found was a much taller (than I expected) waterfall definitely a bit more rustic in getting to the falls.
Luckily, it’s a short hike to the falls, but if there’s any rain or water nearby, you’re likely to get a bit muddy. The initial hike to the falls isn’t very difficult. You could get a view of a portion of the falls from the trail above the falls. But if you want to get to the base, it becomes a bit more interesting. There is a trail to the base, but it is a bit slippery and steep. The ground has a lot of clay in it, and this can make shoes very slick. But if you can get down to the base, you realize that the waterfall is much more interesting that it seems from above.
Head to Shadow Falls Park by using Google Maps. (There are so many different ways you could approach it.)
Really, the trick is deciding where to park. I think there is some parking off of Mississippi River Boulevard near The Monument. On weekends, there is parking available on some of the streets nearby. I parked on Exeter Place, and that leads you much closer to the start of the hike.
The start of the hike is near the intersection of Exeter Place and Mississippi River Boulevard, and is a dirt trail.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip
If I remember correctly, I visited Vermillion Falls after visiting a waterfall in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, which is further south in Minnesota. The waterfall is centrally located in Hastings, Minnesota, which is east of Minneapolis/St. Paul (near the border with Wisconsin).
For some reason, I remember it taking a little while to find the falls. I think it had to do with confusing directions and GPS issues. Once you find the parking area, it’s a very short walk to the falls. The falls are not particularly easy to view. At the normal viewpoint, it is rather complicated to get the whole falls. I have seen pictures of the falls from other viewpoints near the base, but I couldn’t see any path to the base. The falls were flowing well in October, though. The same thing couldn’t be said for some of the other waterfalls in Minnesota at that time, so Vermillion Falls is a good choice for a year-round waterfall (at least when it’s not snowing!).
There are multiple different ways to enter Hastings. Headed east from Minneapolis, 160th Street E is a good option. If heading north toward Hastings, US-61 is ideal. US-61 also heads southeast into Hastings from St. Paul.
The parking area is on 21st Street E. This road is just south of the intersection of 160th Street E (also known as Vermillion Street) and US-61. If headed north along US-61 into Hastings, 21st Street E will be on the right. If coming from 160th Street E, you’ll turn right, and then almost instantly turn left.
The parking area is for Vermillion Falls Park.
Walk to the falls!
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip
If you’re visiting Minneapolis, and you want to see a waterfall in the city, Minnehaha Falls is the waterfall for you. It’s a few miles outside of downtown Minneapolis in one of the suburbs not to far from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Getting to the falls is not particularly difficult either. I was expecting to face a lot of traffic, but there wasn’t a significant amount, and there was also plentiful parking when I visited.
At Minnehaha Falls Park, you’ll find a fish and chips restaurant (which I didn’t visit since I’m not a big fish person). You’ll also find a number of different viewpoints for the falls. There is one viewpoint that essentially starts near the crest of the falls and extends outward without any significant elevation change. This is where the picture shown here was taken. If you would like to get a closer view, head down the stone steps to the viewpoint in front of the base of the falls. You’ll be in front of the falls, though you won’t be extremely close to them. When I visited in mid-October of last year, the sun just so happened to be at the right angle that it was causing some problems getting great pictures. There also wasn’t a massive amount of water, though there was still more than a number of other falls in the area (some of which had almost dried out).
Note: Hidden Falls is found very close by on the other side of the Mississippi River.
There are a number of different ways to get to the falls. One would be to exit MN-62 (if you’re headed west) at Hiawatha Avenue (which is also MN-55).
You’ll continue on MN-55 for a short distance.
Then turn right onto Minnehaha Avenue and essentially follow the signs to the park.
There is a parking fee required, though it is not any significant amount. Just bring change. I ended up parking further away in order to avoid any difficulties parking.
Follow the people to the falls!
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip (from nearest parking area)
I arrived in Minneapolis yesterday, and have been exploring the area. It must be pretty dry around the area currently, as a number of the waterfalls I’ve visited have had very low flow. Oh well, it was a very enjoyable day, so I can’t complain too much.
Hidden Falls is the first waterfall I visited in the area. I didn’t have much difficulty getting to Hidden Falls Park, but I did have a bit of difficulty finding the falls themselves. There’s no sign that clearly directs you to the falls. One set of directions I read about afterwards would have led me in a different direction that I expected. Once I found the falls, they reminded me of other areas where the falls have a lot of remnants of human touches. The falls in the area are much more urbanized than the Minnesota waterfalls along the North Shore.
The entrance to Hidden Falls Park is directly off of Magoffin Avenue.
As you enter the park, you’ll head downhill for a distance. Park at the first parking area you see. There are other parking areas that lead you to the Mississippi River.
You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see a set of three or four buildings/”gazebos”.
The most obvious trail does not lead you to the falls. Instead, the trail to the falls is hidden behind those buildings, and there is no sign indicating the trail to the falls.
Walk behind the buildings, and you should see a wide trail leading to the falls. There should be a lot of rock walls as you head toward the falls.
Accessiblity: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip