When my father, nephew, and I visited Stair Step Falls (also referred to as Onion River Falls) in August 2015, there wasn’t a whole lot of water flowing down the river. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to explore. Starting at the Ray Berglund Wayside along MN-61, I remember climbing uphill toward the Onion River. Once you’ve climbed uphill toward the river, there are a lot of different options to deviate and see different drops.
When I looked at the original picture trying to determine the height of the falls, I said approximately 15′, but I remember now that there are numerous drops. I was trying to find out if anyone else has determined the height of the overall drop along the river, and I’m going to estimate it is at least 100′ from pictures that I’ve seen when there is a lot more water flowing. I do remember climbing and being able to stand on the river bed and look down a ways to the lake shore. At high flow, Stair Step Falls on the Onion River should be very impressive!
- Drive along MN-61. Between Tofte (further south) and Lutsen (further north), you’ll find the Ray Berglund Wayside.
- It will be on the left of the road if headed north. Park here, and head uphill to find the falls. (There may be a new trail built since I’ve last been here, but I’m not sure.)
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip (this may be shorter now, or unnecessary in high flow)
Where in the World is Stair Step Falls?