Unbelievable Hidden Slot Canyon in St Paul at Crosby Farm Regional Park
Did you know there is a hidden slot canyon in St Paul?
Some of the best adventures are those that are off the beaten path. That is true with this one as well. Hidden away at Crosby Farm Regional Park in St Paul., this slot canyon is absolutely stunning. I was blown away at the winter wonderland hidden inside. I’m giving you all the details on what to expect on your adventure.
Before going, I did as much research as possible, only to find out there isn’t much out there. Since it’s “hidden” I knew it may take a little guessing to find. I needed the perfect person for this adventure. Thankfully, my sister and her boyfriend were up for anything and offered to help me find the Crosby Farm Slot Canyon.
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Crosby Farm Regional Park in St Paul
Crosby Park Regional Park is a great place to walk, bike, run, and explore. There are 6.7 miles of paved trails that run along the Mississippi River next to the Crosby Lake area, through the South End of St Paul, and into the city’s periphery.
The park also has many picnic areas, playgrounds and trails for running, biking, and walking. Last season it became wildly popular with people looking for the pop-up art exhibits of Zara & Zug Zug, frozen Cavemen hidden at two parks in the cities.
While everyone was looking for them, they bypassed the coolest park of the park.
About Crosby Farm Regional Park
The park was once part of a large farm owned by Thomas Crosby. He owned the 160-acre farm in 1857 until his death in 1886. It was the largest and longest-running farm in the area.
With Cattle, dairy cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. They also had apples and potatoes. The land changed hands a few more times before being purchased by the Saint Paul Port Authority.
Today, Crosby Farm Regional Park is an important part of the Mississippi River shoreline. It protects the flood plain. It’s scattered with oak forest and wetland. Today, many visit the park for great hiking and picnicking opportunities.
Hidden Slot Canyon in St Paul
The cave is only accessible via a short one-mile hike. Getting to the canyon is challenging because it hides in plain sight and it’s not marked well on any hiking trail.
The canyon was formed from water that seeped through walls of the Limestone cliffs and runoff that make up much of the Mississippi River Valley. Eventually, the stream makes its way to Crosby Lake. This is also known as Homer’s Odyssey.
If there is water, does that mean it’s only accessible during winter?
No, the amount of water that flows is relatively small, even during wet seasons. The trickle of water means that you’ll have muddy conditions throughout the year. During winter, this freezes and creates a stunning ice waterfall.
Normally I don’t advise going near-frozen waterfalls. The nearby Minnehaha Falls, for instance, are incredibly dangerous with falling ice and are officially off-limits.
Here, it’s icy ground with no risk of falling through. You are not going under a waterfall either. The ice formations are stable enough that during the right season, people will even ice climb here.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about Minnesotan’s, we love to hike! There is plenty of great places to hike that no one knows about. Check them out: 21 Best Hikes Near Minneapolis and St Paul
How to Find Hidden Slot Canyon in St Paul
Getting to the slot canyon is half the fun of the adventure. During Winter, after freshly fallen snow, I find it’s easier to get to some of the hidden locations. That’s because you can follow in the tracks of others. That being said, you can’t rely solely on that.
The Slot Canyon is between Shepard Road and Lake Crosby, accessible only to those that know the pathway. I’ve marked it with an orange dot on the map.
From the main parking lot, take the trail leading from the end of the parking lot until you reach the first fork. Swing left around the pond. Once you get to the floating boardwalk, you’ll venture off the official trail.
Along the North Side of Lake Crosby, there is a small trail leading around the lake. It leads right to the Hidden Slot Canyon. You’ll notice a split in the rock ledge you’ve been walking through.
From the entrance, it was underwhelming. We arrived at 11 am and the lighting was directly above. That was until we ventured inside. The canyon opens up into an entire area with ice dripping down from the cliff side.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Slot Canyon in Crosby Farm Regional Park
I highly recommend visiting in winter to capture the ice. Trail access is available year-round during park hours. In spring, the conditions are muddy. Make sure you have waterproof boots.
Can I snowshoe, regular boots, or ski to it?
Yes, yes, and no. We took snowshoes there because there was freshly fallen snow. When you can get the chance to snowshoe on fresh snow, seize the opportunity. That being said, by the time 10:30 hit the next morning, there was already a path formed to it. Winter boots would have been just fine.
When you get to the canyon, you will need ice traction. The crampons at the bottom of our snowshoes worked great as there was a step three to four feet high.
No one in my group would have been able to make it up without some type of traction. A good pair of Ice Cleats would have also worked fine. The everyday cleats or Yaktrax coils would not have been sufficient.
We saw a few people skiing around the park. On the marked trails at the park, it’s just fine. The spur trail has rocks, tree roots, and other obstacles that would prevent you from skiing. There are also tighter turns that would prevent it.
Other Hiking Trails at Crosby Farm Regional Park
The park has almost 7 miles of paved trails to explore. They go around Lake Crosby and above the ridgeline to the Mississippi River Boulevard parkway.
You can also swing right from the parking lot and explore the Mississippi River shoreline or take the trail over to Hidden Falls Regional Park.
If you haven’t been to Hidden Falls Regional Park yet, it is phenomenal, with its own frozen waterfall and more trails to explore. We were there last year on New Year’s day and walked along the river to see someone water skiing. Only in Minnesota!
Would I go back to the Slot Canyon in St Paul at Crosby Farm Regional Park?
Yes, it is a lot of fun to explore. We got a great workout in too. I Would love to explore some of the other areas. I think my kids would also have enjoyed the trip a lot. Now that I know where it is, I will make a return visit to this hidden treasure.