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A good hike and a sense of adventure are all you need for a great spring day. And with the cool weather we’ve been having, it’s been perfect for hiking. I have visited Taylors Falls so many times over the past few years and still hadn’t had time to do Interstate State Park Hiking Club Trail.
It was getting a little frustrating. I hadn’t even gotten my passport stamped! Every time I got there, everyone loves getting to see the Glacial Pot Hole formations and we climb the rocks to chill and watch the water pass by. We say “Hi” to the rock climbers scaling the rocks.
But we seem to always visit on the hottest days of the year and are not in the mood for any type of hiking. We’ve even taken a peek at Wisconsin to see what their park looks like.
This time we went out especially to hike the Interstate State Park Hiking Club trail. I was a little intimidated after reading other reviews about how up and down the hikes is. After how deceptive everyone was Devils Kettle Falls trail, I was a little gun shy on doing this one. It turned out to be a great hike for the weekend.
Interstate State Park
Interstate State park is one of those unique State Parks that has a clone on the Wisconsin border in St Croix Falls, hence the name interstate. It sits along the St Croix River, giving you stunning views all along the park. The rocky ledges are popular for Rock Climbers. While the Glacial Pot Holes have mesmerized visitors for decades.
The entire area was formed by 10 different lava flows. some of the flows are visible by park visitors. These parks were preserved by the threat of Minning in the St Croix Dalles. The government decided to buy the land and protect it, creating the state park. Today, we have this beautiful place to enjoy.
Things to do at Interstate State Park
The Interstate State Park Hiking Club Trail
Miles: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy but Hilly
Total Miles Hiked: 23.5 miles
This hiking club trail at Interstate State Park was a lot of fun to do. Covered with stairs, mud puddles, boardwalks and rocks, there was never a dull moment on the trail. Being as though we are in the middle of spring, the shoreline was coming alive again.
The water runoff was forming a nice little stream through the trail allowing my kids to do one of their favorite activities, rock hopping. Most adults can get across without hopping rocks, but what’s the fun in that!
With all the rock hopping we were doing, I was glad we brought the Trekking Poles for everyone in the family. On some adventures, they can become a distraction for the kids and we end up double poling it. But here, they were put to good use providing extra stability for everyone.
Until my son decided that he was too cool to use it and ended up in a mud puddle. Thankfully the damage wasn’t too bad and just got his hand. But did you know when a 5-year-old has mud on one of their hand, they become unable to use that limb? The ailment just affected a hand and not a foot.
Within a few minutes, we found the stream, and he washed right up. Crisis averted!
Not sure what type of trekking poles you need for your adventure? Checkout this guide: Best Budget Trekking Poles: Save Money and Stay Strong on Any Trail
My favorite motivation technique for the kids has always been trying to find the Password sign. On this adventure, it was in clear view. It was the easiest time we had at finding it.
In most cases, I feel like Minnesota State Parks try to keep the sign visible. But after my first two attempts at getting a password on different trails, like Gooseberry Falls, I’ve been a little more concerned I might miss it somewhere.
Side Notes about the Trail
Park at the Trail Center and take the first sign on the right to be on the official trail. If you miss it, don’t worry. You won’t be able to get too far off course. The paved trail near the trail center is where all the beginning rock climbers are and those checking out the potholes.
The trail goes along the highway for a short while. You won’t notice it too much because you’ll be spending most of your time enjoying the river views.
Leave the dogs at home. I love taking my puppies on adventures, but with the number of rocks, gravel, and other obstacles, it could be hard on their feet. You also may have a muddy dog to put in your car when it’s all said and done. With the number of people hiking, we would have probably been stopped to say “Hi” to every one that passed.
The Interstate Park Hiking Club trail is the most direct route from the Trail Center and the Campground. As you can imagine, there are a few campers taking advantage of this route. The trail doesn’t loop so you’ll have to go back the way you came. If you are opposed to this, take some other trails on the other side of the highway.
I would not recommend attempting this trail during winter. Any amount of ice on the rocks and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Camping at Interstate State Park
Interstate State Park is one of the more popular campgrounds to get a reservation at. It ranks right up there with campsites along the North Shore! There is 37 drive in sites, 22 electric sites with an RV length limit of 45. They have all the amenities you’d come to expect like showers, Flush Toiles, and a dump station.
The campground is along highway 95. Make sure to keep an eye out for it before you get into Taylors Falls as it comes up quickly.
Finding Old Lava Flows
The cliffs along St Croix River were formed with a combination of glacial rivers and lava flows. Along the cliffs, you’ll see layers of tiny, empty, bubble-like spaces on the cliff side. These are ancient lava layers of basalt. These are most noticeable near the Glacial Pothole trail overlooks.
Potholes at Interstate State Park
During the latest ice age, meltwaters formed leaving behind the biggest feature of the state park, its potholes. These potholes are found throughout the park. You’ll notice them by their smooth divots in the rock. Small potholes reside on the rocks behind the visitor’s center.
The biggest ones are on the Glacial Pothole Trail. One of them is so big, you can stand inside. They carry names like Devil’s Parlor, Bottomless Pit, and Devil’s Alcove. During spring months, it’s often filled with water, but you can still take the stairs part way down.
After the hike, we checked out the potholes. Truth be told you can find potholes all over the rocky shore near the visitor’s center. But if you take the paved trail south, you’ll eventually find a marked walking path. This path takes visitors to the most predominant ones, including one pothole you can stand inside of.
With the weird weather we’ve had this spring the ‘Echo’ Pot Hole was filled with ice and it submerged the stairs leading inside. Thankfully there are so many Potholes on the Minnesota side of the park, it didn’t interfere with the fun. About half the trail is ADA accessible.
Climbing enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to climb the rocks faces at Interstate State Park. The park has designated climbing areas that range from beginner to expert. The rockface off the trail from the visitors center is often used for beginner classes.
All of the climbing routes are accessible from the state park’s parking lot. The first set of the rock wall, next to the asphalt road is the tourist rocks. The rest of the rocks ledges on the Minnesota side are along the River Trail.
Canoeing or Kayaking the St Croix River
Paddle down St Croix river in a Canoe or Kayak. The park has boat entry access points for those that have their own. Otherwise, an independent company, Taylors Falls Canoe rents canoes and kayaks in the park. The top-down to Osceola is seven miles long and takes 2-3 hours to complete.
Highway 95 Overlook
Enjoy beautiful views of the St. Croix River at one of several overlooks along the River Trail. This 1.25-mile trail is a linear path between the glacial pothole area and the park’s campground. The River Trail includes up and downhill hiking through wooded areas bordering the river, and offers glimpses of a variety of plants and wildlife along the way.
Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours
Reserve a time on a paddle boat down the St. Croix River. The scenic boat tours run multiple times a day, leaving from the parking lot adjoining the State Parks welcome center.
The Taylors Falls Secnei Boat Tour is a great way to see the river. Make sure to check out my full review: Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours | Cruising the St Croix River
Wisconsin’s Interstate State Park
If you want to have more fun, head on over to the Wisconsin side of Interstate State Park. Heads up, you’re entering a new park with an additional parking/entrance fee. They have a nice rock face, with a few potholes. They aren’t as prominent as the Minnesota side. While hiking around there last summer, we felt like they had a lot more trails inland vs on the St Croix River.
The Wisconsin side is less traveled and a good alternative for those that don’t want to mess with the crowds.
Would I Hike Interstate State Park Again?
I would definitely go back to Interstate State park again. There are tons of things to do and places I haven’t hiked yet. I do recommend getting there early or going later/early in the season as the park gets busy during summer. For more great things to do in Taylors Falls, check out my full review of all the different things to do in Taylors Falls MN. While I’ve done everything on the list so far, I keep finding new reasons to come back.