Welcome to the Minnesota and Wisconsin border that is divided by the St. Croix River. Here lies a park called Interstate State Park that has been divided between the two states.
Interstate State Park was established in 1895 and offers much of the same rustic beauty that attracted visitors back then. The Minnesota park is located next to Taylors Falls, MN, you then cross the Highway 8 bridge over the St. Croix River to the Wisconsin side of the park. The park's rocky cliffs are known as "the St. Croix Dalles" which is French for steep, rocky gorge. It describes the area perfectly and at that time the river would welcome the steamboats that would bring tourists to the area.
Trails range from easy to difficult due to steep inclines, rocky paths, and slippery rocks. There isn't much gravel once you are off the main trails and most of the side trails are made of rocks. Use extreme caution as it doesn't take much to lose your balance or misstep especially on wet surfaces.
Part of the trails will take you up to the highway that leads to the Minnesota entrance of the state park. Even though the trail is divided by guard rails use caution when walking along the highway. There are many blind turns and some areas get pretty close to the road. Due to the hills, car speeds will vary and be sure to keep your furry friend on a short leash.
Take a moment to enjoy the St. Croix River that is calm at one point and rapids the next. Riverboat tours are offered and can be seen docked outside the state parks. The river also welcomes canoes and kayaks to enjoy both the rapids and gentle glide along the river.
As you walk around the park you will notice different attractions along the way. This one is a stone, arch bridge that will take you down into a seating area and offer different sites and information about the rocks and formations that have developed over the years.
As always, dogs are welcome anywhere on the trails as long as they are on a leash and you clean up after them. They are not allowed in any public area such as the restrooms and tourist information center. If your dog isn't used to rocky trails, be sure to take it slow and check their paws when done with the hike. These rocks not only get slick but they are extremely sharp and can become very narrow. A dog that gets excited easily is liable to get injured on these trails or injure you as they pull you along. Caution and awareness are key when hiking these trails.
There are no guard rails along the trails with the views, which is true of every trail on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin side of the park. There is a lot of tree coverage and then trails open up and you are looking quite a ways down to the river and rocks below. Another reason to be cautious and know your dog if you are taking them on the trail. There are many things to grab their attention and very little recovery time if you are not on alert. I speak from experience with both my hiking dogs and have learned, the photo and view can wait, let me make sure my buddy is where they need to be to protect myself and them.
Time to head over to Wisconsin and look back at Minnesota, as pictured above. You get to see another side of the river and are able to see the many twists and turns it offers. If you wait long enough and look hard you'll be able to see the Minnesota visitors on the other side enjoying the view of Wisconsin. I've actually seen people call out to each other and wave when they spot other tourists.
The Wisconsin side of Interstate State Park is long and stretches out further than the Minnesota side. The trails on the Wisconsin side are not as clearly visible as they are on the Minnesota side. Although it is easy to find your way back to the trail be aware, it is even easier to get off of it. Wisconsin also offers camping and boat docks for families to enjoy their time here, either for the day on the river or several days camping, which is also dog-friendly.
The campground is located at the bottom of the park and this is the view you get to enjoy. Hard to believe the rapids are just around the corner of the rocks but it is very peaceful.
The campground also offers hiking trails, fishing, and many other things to do while enjoying the State Park. Access to the parks does cost a fee that can be paid either for the day or you can get a year pass which offers unlimited access year-round, all can be purchased at the information center on the Minnesota side or the guard shack on the Wisconsin side.
I hope you will take the time to enjoy both sides of the park that offer great views and challenging trails. Be safe and enjoy!
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.