Willow River State Park welcomes you!
This state park is located in the Northwest Region of Wisconsin along the Minnesota/Wisconsin boarder. The park has some great views, lots of hiking, waterfalls, pet-friendly and camping. What more could you want from a State Park. Fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport and you are only 45 minutes away from this beautiful area, which is located next to Hudson, WI.
I love this park not only for the convenience but location, not to mention a great hike. There is a steep hill you have to take to get down to the Falls from the main parking area; the downside? It is the only way back up, be sure to bring lots of water, good hiking shoes and maybe a walking stick for assistance. Thankfully, there are places to sit along the way as well as at the top so you can take a moment to catch your breathe.
This is Willow Falls, the main attraction of the state park. You cross over a bridge to get to the other side and there are paths that will take you down to the water and allow you access on to the big boulders. Use extreme caution if you do, the rocks are slippery, water is fast and shallow. Once you cross over you can take the stairs up to the top, once again, this is another hefty hike to the top. There are plenty of platforms for you to stop if need be, unless you have an anxious puppy, then you may not be able to stop as often.
Once you reach the top there is an observation deck that allows you to look down at the river or across Willow River State Park. As you can see, on a clear day you can see for miles. Even this area is pet-friendly but be sure to keep them close, this is the most visited park in Wisconsin due to it's location and it is a long way down from the observation deck.
The people you meet here are nothing short but friendly and courteous, welcome to Wisconsin hospitality. However, the state park doesn't have any trash barrels on the trails so if you bring it in, you have to take it out. Just a little tip especially if you bring your puppy along, be sure to keep the trails clean!
After you have taken in the view from the observation deck you can either head back down the stairs or follow the other trail on the top like I did. This trail takes you up, down and around the park with open areas to see more of the river upstream before the Falls. It will eventually bring you back to the bottom of the staircase, where you will then cross back over and return to the main parking lot.
Another attraction at the park is Little Falls Lake which is a shallow reservoir more popular in the Summer time for picnics and the beach. This area does have pet restrictions be sure to read the signs carefully during the seasons. Willow River State Park is also a great place to visit in the Fall, from the observation deck you will have an endless view of colors.
Welcome to Wisconsin 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.