Shadow Falls, St. Paul

St Paul’s Best Kept Secret, Hiking at Shadow Falls

Last updated on March 27th, 2019

After seeing a few pictures of the Shadow Falls Waterfall in St. Paul, I knew I had to go. It reminded me of the falls you see on the Road to Hana in Hawaii where the water falls off the cliff side. Here the water is originating from a fresh spring and dumps into the Mississippi River. The best part, this hidden waterfall allows you to get behind the falls. All this without the crowds of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis.

When I convinced my husband to go, we did not realize what we were getting ourselves into. Unlike most of my adventures, there is little information on these falls. The waterfall is in Shadow Falls Park in St Paul MN. Getting to the park is easy enough. Finding the falls is another story. It ended up being one of the best hiking trips in St Paul.

Getting to Shadow Falls in Saint Paul

We are from the west side of the cities so St. Paul is not a place we regularly visit. Driving along the Mississippi River Road was stunning. The views are amazing along the riverfront. Parking can be found right on Summit and Mississippi River Road.

To get there, travel along the walking path to where it bends. You will notice a dirt path through the woods with a warning to ice climbers. This is the safest path. There are other ways to get down to the falls too, but those are not as safe. As we were looking for this hidden entrance, my husband joked that he felt like we were one of those Amazing Race. We were the team that walked in a random direction without knowing where we were going. Cut out the guessing and use this map. It details exactly where to park and how to get to the falls trail.

Stream at Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Finding the Falls

The trail follows the muddy river bed. If you try to go when it’s drier out, you risk there not being enough water to feed the falls. After little ways, you’ll discover the spring. That’s when the fun begins. Now you get to cross over the pathways created by others. Stick with the path; it has the least amount of mud. Often you’ll find man-made bridges and other down tree’s people have used to help them cross. It can be kind of tricky to navigate, particularly when you’ve brought your 2 and 5-year-old with you. Don’t give up, you’ll make it. Soon you’ll find the top of the falls. Take the path down the right side. The view is amazing.

This part of the journey was the most challenging. Mostly because we were traversing a muddy hillside with two small children. Being it was fall, the leaves masked a lot of the mud. What I found amazing was how well our children listened to us the whole time. I have to figure out how to bottle this up for home. Take your time getting down. It’s worth the effort.

Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Shadow Falls

Shadow Falls, St. Paul

At the bottom, my husband didn’t want us to go any closer. There was no way to avoid the mud between the falls and us. I took one look at him and said, “I came all this way… I’m going for it!” He stayed back with the kids. I am so glad I didn’t listen to him because Shadow Falls is amazing. There was even space for you to get behind the falls. Take your time and just enjoy it before climbing back up.

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The Trip Back

Getting up was another challenge. We found a couple of different ways to get back up that did not need us to go over the entire stream again. It comprised of going straight up a slippery ravine. The best part was I was in charge of helping my two-year-old up. He thought it was so funny whenever I would pick him up and put him down over a big step up. It was so fun he didn’t want to climb anymore. Here I am, trying not to slip down the mudslide and he demands to be thrown to the next location.  We made it up with no one falling thankfully! Worthy to make my list of the Eight Stunning Waterfalls Near Minneapolis and is still one of the best hikes in St Paul. If you are looking for some more waterfalls outside of the Twin Cities, check out Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore and More, Expanded Second Edition: A Guide for Hikers.

If you have some free time, you should head out. It was so worth the adventure.

Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Shadow Falls, St. Paul MN

Lessons Learned

Springtime equals more water, more mud.

Best times for bug-free excursion, early spring, and fall.

Bring good hiking shoes. The boots I wore may have looked fashionable, but we’re not sturdy.

Don’t forget to check that you have a full battery and memory card in your camera. The ravine is amazing.

Final Thoughts

The Mississipi River Bank waterfall is one of the best you’ll see. Make sure if you plan on doing some Twin Cities hiking trips, add this to the list. You won’t regret it!

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More Info: Shadow Falls Park
Directions: St Paul MN
When To Visit: Spring or Summer or after a good rain.
Recommended Guide: Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore and More, Expanded Second Edition: A Guide for Hikers,
Other Recommends: Don’t forget proper footwear. It will make a world of difference on your hike!


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  • Reply Paulette November 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    I really enjoyed the article and pictures!

    • Reply Jenn November 9, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks Paulette, we had a great time getting there 🙂

  • Reply Cindy December 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Wow. I’ve walked by here (above on the sidewalk) and heard the water running without realizing there was actually a substantial waterfall down there. I didn’t even know this area was considered a separate park! Guess that goes to show that there are always more things to discover right at home, since I’ve lived on this side of St. Paul for about 30 years now. Thanks for letting me know what’s down there and what it would take to check it out!

    • Reply Jenn December 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      I’ve been there, you’d be surprised at how many things you miss because you didn’t think to look! Have fun exploring shadow falls!

  • Reply Lisa Crayford April 14, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I have this waterfall in my book, Waterfalls of Minnesota by Lisa Crayford. It came out May of 2016. I have 138 MN falls in the book. Enjoy & happy exploring! And yes, wear your waterproof good tread hiking boots to Shadow falls. I also brought my daughter with on our hike and she had so much fun exploring. We headed straight down the ravine.

  • Reply Stefanie B September 4, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    I just stumbled upon this place and it was amazing! It was last weekend everybody was at the fair to the park was empty- I came through the ice climbing sign entrance, past the beautiful creek but somehow followed some trails up up up and stumbled upon (be careful!) a rock ledge after being above a small portion of the falls. It was the most breathtaking view of the river almost over a cliff. I gotta go back and find the lower path behind the rest of the falls

  • Reply Todd November 10, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Great post. We walk by here a few each year and have been in parts of the ravine and seen spring fed small streams but didn’t know about the waterfall. Will use this to find them but may end up waiting until next year since snow has just arrived.

    • Reply Jenn November 10, 2018 at 7:20 am

      You can always take a peek at it during the winter season too! Just take the designated path instead of scaling the hill as I did. They have people that like to do ice climbing on the falls.

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