Nestled in northwest Wisconsin, five miles north of Hudson, Willow River State Park boasts 2,891 acres of pure outdoor bliss. This state park is situated 35 minutes east of Minneapolis, the St. Croix River, and the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. Whether you are from Wisconsin or taking a road trip, a stop at Willow River is well worth it! Most visitors flock to this Wisconsin State Park to see Willow Falls, a waterfall cascading into the 200-foot deep Willow River Gorge. In addition to the waterfall, Willow River State Park features Little Falls Lake, a class 2 trout stream, a sandy beach, a nature center, and hiking trails.
The Park History
The land of the current-day Willow Creek State Park is home to the Wahpekute and O?héthi ?akówi? native tribes. Now managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, this park is excellent for a day trip to discover the wonder of nature. Take the nature trail to remnants from prairie days, bring a kayak, and use the boat launch on Little Falls Lake. There are even picnic areas and picnic tables to enjoy a meal as a group. If you want to explore the vast acreage of the park, plan to stay overnight at one of the 300 campgrounds.
Activities at Willow River State Park
From boating to hiking to dog sledding to biking, there is an activity for everyone to enjoy when you visit Willow River. The small reservoir, Little Falls Lake, offers a swimming beach, a boat launch, and prime opportunities for canoes and kayaks to spend time on the water. If you are looking to use a motorized boat, you can head to St. Croix River. There are 12 different hiking trails to explore at the park. Here is a full breakdown of them! Some favorites include the Whitetail Trail (known for the population of deer of the same name), the Willow Falls Trail to the waterfall, the Pioneer Trail to remnants of the first white settlers in the area, and the Burkhardt Trail for scenic vistas of the area.
If you are visiting in the winter months, you can enjoy snowshoeing, dog sledding, and cross-country skiing. Willow River presents 2 miles of hard-packed trails on the north side of the river where pets are allowed, as well as 9 miles of cross-country ski trails on the south side of the river that are groomed and tracked by the park's volunteers. The Nature Center classroom is used as a warming house from 9 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays in the winter.
Camping at Willow River State Park
One of the most camped-at Wisconsin State Parks, Willow River has three different areas for campers to chose from (the 100, 200, and 300 campgrounds). The campground host is located on the right side of the 300 campground entrance road and can provide more information upon arrival. There are sites with extra accessibility, hookups, and close proximity to flush toilets.
The address of the park is 1034 County Road A, Hudson, WI, 54016. The park is open from 6 AM to 11 PM year-round. A vehicle admission sticker is required, and passes can be obtained here. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/admission If you have more questions, you can call 715-386-5931.
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