Hiking at Shadow Falls

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

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 waterfalls cascade off the cliffside. Here, the water is originating from a fresh spring and flows into the Mississippi River.

The best part, Shadow Falls’ hidden waterfall, allows you to get behind the falls. All this without the crowds of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. This is my favorite waterfalls in Minnesota.

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 deep in the woods of Shadow Falls Park in St Paul, MN. Getting to the park is easy enough. Finding the waterfall is another story. It ended up being one of the best hiking trips in Minnesota.

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Getting to Shadow Falls in Saint Paul

We are from the west side of the Twin Cities, so St. Paul is not a place we regularly visit. Driving along the Mississippi River Road was stunning.

Pulling in the views is amazing along the riverfront. Parking is right on Summit Road and Mississippi River Road near the Ford Factory.

To get to the Shadow Falls waterfall, 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 he felt like we were one of those Amazing Race contestants searching for a clue. We would be 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

Where is Shadow Falls?

The hiking trail follows the muddy riverbed. If you try to go when it’s drier out, you risk there not being enough water to feed the waterfall. After a little way, 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 trees 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 to get down. It’s worth the effort.

Check out more great waterfalls nearby: 12 Stunning Waterfalls Near Minneapolis

Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Shadow Falls Breathtaking Waterfall in St Paul

Water dripping off the cliffside at Shadow Falls

At the bottom, there was no way to avoid the mud between the falls and us. My husband thought we did enough walking through mud. 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 Waterfall is amazing. There was even space for you to get behind the falls. Take your time and just enjoy it before climbing back up.

The Top MN Destinations You need to visit next

The Not-So Safeway to get Back to the Car

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 consists of going straight up a slippery ravine.

The best part was, I was to help 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! I heard some rumors about alternative paths, but we maxed my adventurous spirit out at this point.

Shadow Falls was so spectacular it made my list of the Twelve Stunning Waterfalls Near Minneapolis and is still one of the best hikes in St Paul. If you are looking for some more waterfalls in Minnesota, check out Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore and More, Expanded Second Edition: A Guide for Hikers.

Nearby there is a Hidden Slot Canyon just down the street, perfect for more great hiking opportunities in Minnesota!

Shadow Falls, St. Paul
Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Other Hiking Trails

For more hiking, there is a 3-mile trail that wraps around Shadow Falls Park, through the woods, and provides views of the river. Our adventure crossed paths with this trail.

We found this in the guidebook, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Minneapolis and St. Paul: Including Hikes In and Around the Twin Cities by Tom Watson.

If you’re looking for another beautiful waterfall to visit after seeing Shadow Falls in St. Paul, you should definitely check out Hidden Falls Regional Park.

Located just a few miles away, this park offers scenic trails that lead to the picturesque Hidden Falls. The waterfall is a stunning sight to see, with water cascading over rocks and into a tranquil pool below. There are also picnic areas and playgrounds in the park, making it a great place to relax and enjoy nature.

Lessons Learned

  • Springtime equals more water and more mud.
  • The best times for bug-free excursions are early spring and fall.
  • Bring good hiking shoes. The boots I wore may have looked fashionable, but they were not sturdy.
  • Don’t forget to check that you have a full battery and memory card in your camera. The ravine is amazing.

Would I Go Again to Shadow Falls?

I’ve been begging my husband to do it again. This time when we are properly equipped with hiking boots and now that my kids are older, it would be a lot easier.

Hopefully, he’ll say yes one of these days, otherwise I’m grabbing some girlfriends to go back to my favorite St. Paul waterfall, Shadow Falls!

Final Thoughts

The Mississippi River Bank waterfall is one of the best you’ll see. Make sure if you plan on doing some St. Paul Hiking Trips, add this to the list. You won’t regret it!

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