Saint Croix Area

Fairy Falls
Stillwater, MN

Location:  Near the intersection of Hwy 96 and 95 on the North East end of Stillwater you will find this hidden gem. Exit onto Boom Road off 96 and then a left on Fairy Falls Road and park on the side of the road at your next left.

History:  A small stream that has carved its way over the years into a rather tall waterfall for the amount of water that pours over its lip. A nice scenic hike to the falls will give plenty of photo opprotunities and maybe a soiled shoe or two so come prepared. High bluffs surround this little spectacle and if you like small crowds this is a definite pleasure! The paths are less traveled and make sure you look out for some Arisaema Triphyllum, or better known as Jack in the Pulpit. The bright orange berries that lie under the pulpit in the fall are spectacular!

Rustic Road 13
Hudson, WI

Location:  Coming from downtown Hudson travel North to St. Croix Avenue and take a right and follow until you get to Trout Brook Road and take a left. From Stillwater you would cross the lift bridge and take the first right and the next right onto 35 and follow to V where you will take a left and your first right and follow to Trout Brook Road where you will take a right.

History:  An old trout hatchery with plenty of natural goodness. Remnants of yesteryear abound with aerators hovering the surface to catch your eye. Flowers, Wild turkeys and an occasional deer crossing the stream will astound while Willow River twists and turns its way through the area finding its way to the St. Croix. If you have a car that handles turns well... this is also a fun drive with the many turns and inclines along the way. Watch out for wildlife crossing the road as they appear out of nowhere seemingly every trip down this road!

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Vermillion Falls
Hastings, MN

Location:  Vermillion Falls Park is on the left hand side just south of the Con Agra Flour Mill off 21st Street South if you are heading south in Hastings off Hwy 61.

History:  A magnificent park with a roaring waterfall! If you are adventurous and feel like getting right up under the waterfall (Will not happen in the spring as this is ALL under water), you will be amazed at the amount of wind produced by this gusher! Located right next to the Con Agra Flour Mill... one of the largest flour mills in the United States with over one billion in sales annually. From the bridge on a gloomy day the mill has an ominous view which would make one think that if Norman Bates was not in the motel business we could possibly see him in the milling industry. Lots of interesting mushrooms located next to the river and the the heavy mist from the waterfall helps with their hearty growth! Follow the path even farther south and you will run into another interesting location in the Alexander Ramsey Flour Mill Ruins which happens to be the FIRST flour milling operation in Minnesota. Lots to explore in this park, so give yourself some time to see all that it has to offer!

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Vermillion Falls in Hastings, MN

Wind in the Pines Park
Scandia, MN

Location:  Coming from Stillwater, MN you will go past William O'Brien State Park on 95 and shortly after you will notice the brown information sign on the right. Don't blink or you may miss it!

History:  I have explored one of the trails so far of the four on this 44 acre parcel. This park is surrounded by private property (yes it is posted everywhere). Wind in the Pines Park is thought to be one of the most diverse ecological areas left in Washington County by the Minnesota DNR. As the name suggests... there are some mighty nice looking pines in this park! Scenic hilly paths and just a quiet place to get back to nature! Looking forward to exploring the rest of the trails on my next visit!

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Copas MN Waterfall
Copas, MN

Location:  Near Crabtrees and Garden Gate Country Store off Hwy 95 north of Marine on St. Croix or south of Scandia. Take the exit to the store and go North on Quinnell Avenue North. Take a right on 205th and park. Waterfall is on the right. This is private property and a very seldom seen waterfall on the St. Croix.

History:  I don't know a lot of the history surrounding this waterfall except that it took three weekends to find it! If I had my windows down on the second trip and the music down I would have heard it as I drove right by it! This is an impressive two tier waterfall with some interesting characteristics. A washboard waterfall with a very unique circular carved out structure under the lower waterfall. This is the Audrey Hepburn of waterfalls in Minnesota. Very elegant, picturesque, and almost a regal quality about her. This is one of my favorite waterfalls for the tranquil splendor, hard to find made it mysterious, but the lack of foot traffic makes her a true gem!

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Willow River State Park
Hudson, WI

Location:  Going east on 94 from Minnesota into Hudson Wisconsin, take exit 4 and head north. Follow the signs. After you get settled in and pay, exit the park again and head north to the first arking lot on the left if there is parking available (most times this lot is full but it doesn't hurt to check real quick). From this parking lot you can get to the waterfall the quickest and save about three miles of walking!

History:  I have explored this park A LOT! One of my favorite parks in Minnesota or Wisconsin. A spectacular set of waterfalls, beautiful trails, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, secluded campsites near the falls, this park has it all! A very clean and well kept park where you will also find an abundance of deer and wild turkeys. With every season this park changes and has something new to offer

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Stonebridge and Browns Creek
Stillwater, MN

Location:  Starting from downtown Stillwater you would head west on Myrtle Street. At the top of the hill take a right on Owens Street and go a little more than 1 1/2 miles until you come to the bridge and park on the right side before the bridge. All the magic is under the bridge!

History:  I live not far from here and have wandered this area countless times. There are tons of wildflowers including a field of Jack in the Pulpits which are farther down the creek area. The Stone bridge is to your immediate left under the bridge along with the usual graffiti art under most bridges. This is a fast moving current on such a small creek which may explain how it has carved such a deep crevice over thousands of years. At one point you may be looking down 150 feet or more and the creek is looking mighty obscure. A few tunnels are located under the previous railroad tracks that are no longer present (this will be turned into a bike trail soon and as of spring 2014 it is still gravel). I have encountered a number of fly fisherman who swear there is a good trout population here. There are some nice water features here as well and some are impossible to get to without some hip waders (thus I have no pictures of these). Fun area to explore. VERY steep climbs!

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Arcola High Bridge
Stillwater, MN

Location:  Going north on 95 out of Stillwater you would take a right on Arcola Trail. Look for the bridge that overpasses the road. DO NOT park here. Patrolled heavily!

History:  I have been here once on a magical day that I may not forget in a long time. That's another story, and a lost love, but the bridge is quite the spectacle in itself. Looking out upon its span, it conjures up many things, and after hearing some of the local legend it makes the mind wander a little more. I know a few people who spent many nights here during their youth and they saw nothing. Others in the Sommerset area say something completely different and believe in its haunts. There is so much that fascinates me about this bridge which has brought out my pen and a story has been started. I plan on going back this summer (2014) to get more pics and sit down and write underneath her steel comfort. Her specs are here. Her haunts are located here.

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View St. Croix River Valley in a larger map
My Write Brain

More interesting St. Croix River Valley Sites:
  Discover Stillwater
  National Register of Historic Places - MN
  Rustic Roads of Wisconsin
  St. Croix - National Parks Service
  DNR - William O'Brien State Park