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Willow River State Park

Two people hiking in woods and observing nature. Hiking in woods / fstop123

The park has 13 miles of hiking trails that vary in difficulty. The most popular hiking trail destination is Willow Falls and the scenic overlooks of the river valley. 

Be aware that trails may vary in difficulty. Not all trails are surfaced. Stay well away from cliffs that aren’t protected by a barricade or barrier, and watch children closely. Trail surfaces can become slippery when wet or leaf-covered and will occasionally have loose sand or gravel or exposed rocks or roots.

Burkhardt trail (Pink trail, 2 to 4 miles)

Access is from the River Road parking lot on the north side of the park. This trail winds along the river bottom, then goes up to some spectacular overlooks and then back down to Willow River Falls. The distance of this trail varies with the route taken.

Hidden Ponds nature trail (Black trail, 0.5 miles)

This paved accessible, interpretive trail goes through oak forest and wetlands. Located behind the Nature Center, this is an excellent trail to observe white-tail deer and birds. Trail guides are available at the beginning of the trail and help encourage active observation at the numbered posts along the trail.

Knapweed trail (Orange trail, (1 mile)

Access is gained from the Pioneer trail near the group camp to the south and the 100 campground to the north. Named for the purple flowers of the spotted knapweed, which is a noxious invasive plant. Look for other wildflowers along this trail all summer long.

Little Falls trail (Green trail, 0.7 miles)

This paved trail runs from the Little Falls Dam to the campground. Enjoy lake scenery as the trail goes past the beach, picnic area and boat launch. It is the only trail in the park that allows bikes and rollerblades.

Mound trail (White trail, 1.1 miles)

This trail is named after the glacial mound on the east side of the river. The trail runs along a section of the Willow River that was restored after a dam was removed. Park at the Mound parking lot off of County Road A or the Rattle Bridge lot off County Road E.

Nelson Farm trail (Silver trail, 3.7 miles)

This new scenic trail extends from the bridge on the Trout Brook trail through much of the north half of the park, ending near Willow Falls. The trail passes through a wide variety of habitats including river bottom, wetlands, prairie areas, mature oak forest and old-growth white pines. The trail leads to a breathtaking vista on the north side of the lake. The terrain varies and includes some very steep hills.

Oak Ridge trail (Brown trail, 1.1 miles)

Access this shaded trail by the beach parking area. The trail goes up and down some hills through a mixed hardwood forest. Look for geologic signs of the glaciers that helped shape this area.

Pioneer trail (Yellow trail, 1.2 miles)

This scenic trail extends from the group camp past the 100 and 200 campgrounds. Follow this trail along the forest edge at the top of the Willow River valley. The trail goes to the grave sites of the first white settlers and then to a spectacular overlook above Willow Falls.

Trout Brook trail (Purple trail, 1.4 miles)

This scenic trail begins by the large parking area by the beach. This loop trail is fairly level and easy to walk. Much of the trail wanders along the lower Willow River and takes hikers through stands of red pine and prairie. Look for great blue heron, ducks, deer and snapping turtles.

Whitetail trail (Red trail, 0.7 miles)

This trail takes you through open fields and forest edge. Named for the deer that are plentiful in the park. If you’re not lucky enough to see the deer look for their tracks, which should be plentiful in summer and winter. 

Willow Falls Hill trail (Gray trail, 0.4 miles)

Access this trail from the Willow Falls parking lot north of the park entrance on County Road A. This is the shortest route to Willow Falls, but this trail goes up and down a very steep hill.

Willow Falls trail (Blue trail, 1 mile)

This scenic trail extends from the campground to Willow Falls. The trail travels along the shore of Little Falls Lake and the Willow River. Look for deer, birds and a variety of wildflowers on the way to the breathtaking Willow Falls.