Hiking the Ice Age Trail St Croix Falls Segment

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Western Terminus of the Ice Age Trail
Western Terminus of the Ice Age Trail

The St Croix Falls Segment is the westernmost segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It is the traditional starting point for long distance hikers seeking to trek the nearly 1200 mile full route of the IAT from Interstate State Park to Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay.

The St. Croix Falls segment continues 7.8 miles from Interstate Park through the city of St Croix Falls, into the Wert Family Nature Preserve, and along the banks of the St. Croix National Scenic River. This is a moderately challenging hike due to several exhilarating hill climbs and a number of rock hops across streams.



View of the St. Croix National Scenic River from Interstate State Park
View of the St. Croix National Scenic River from Interstate State Park


Before hiking the St. Croix Segment I had already hiked a third of the trail segments that make up the Ice Age Trail. So, when I came to Interstate State Park, the Western Terminus of the IAT, it was a potent spiritual experience. Being the Western Terminus, I knew that I would begin this trail segment at sunset.

I approached the high rocky bluffs of the St. Croix as the sun was kissing the tree line across the river on the Minnesota side of Interstate State Park. A pair of other hikers rested pensively in hammocks erected on the crown of the Old Man of the Dalles rock formation illuminated by the final rays of summer as the labor day sun drifted from the sky.

I was able to hike the Potholes Trail, and to reach Horizon Rock for the sunset, and with the afterglow of the day I was able to complete the Skyline Trail and finish out the trails of the IAT at Interstate State Park. I returned in the morning to complete what remained of the St. Croix Falls Segment.

The photogenic sights of the trail at Interstate State Park should be enough to inspire anyone to embark on a journey across the state sculpted to its current scenic splendor by ancient glaciers. But, the St. Croix Falls Segment continues to deliver a first rate hiking experience beyond the gates of the state park.

The City of St. Croix Falls feels immediately accessible and alive with the restless spirit of Americana. Along the trail I met a crew of beatnik travelers - a family of youthful wanderlusts and their dogs who were voyaging about the North American continent in a vintage VW bus. Later we shared a pizza at a gazebo in a town park overlooking the hydro dam between St Croix and Taylor Falls.

In today's fast paced technology driven culture I had forgotten that young people still thrive on the promise of never ending adventure as told on Kerouac's road. St. Croix Falls has this magic appeal, somewhat frozen in an era of motorcycles and white tees with rolled up grease stained sleeves. It is a gentle, ever peaceful community that is humbled by the gashes of scenic wonder surrounding it. It is a Midwestern tourist destination - a settlement relaxed by laughter and recreation seekers. It feels a world and decades away.

I drank in the sunshine on that weekend of blissful hiking on the St. Croix Falls Segment as though the sun itself were the fountainhead of youth and I felt returned to the optimism and surety I had once been overflowing with at age 18 as I set out to the West without a destination. Along the mainline of the IAT in St. Croix Falls there are many intersecting and joining trails - Mindy Creek, Indianhead, Esker, and one trail called The Trail of Myths. Well riddle me this, what is the trail of myths? I had to add it's two miles to my route just to honor a trail of such a peculiar name.

I longed to remain on the remarkable miles of the St. Croix Falls Segment, but there are many more segments of the Ice Age Trail to be hiked. I used my campsite at Interstate State Park as a base for exploring the Trade River, Straight Lake, Straight River, and Pine Lake Segments -  the foundations of a long journey to the East.

Along the Summit Rock Trail - Ice Age Trail St Croix Falls Segment
Along the Summit Rock Trail - Ice Age Trail St Croix Falls Segment


Overview: Ice Age National Scenic Trail - St. Croix Falls Segment


COUNTY: Polk
COMMUNITIES: St. Croix Falls

TOTAL MILES: 7.8
DIFFICULTY: Moderate

NEXT IAT SEGMENT EASTBOUND: 4.5 miles on roads to Gandy Dancer Segment

POINTS OF INTEREST: Western Terminus of the Ice Age Trail, Potholes trail, Summit Rock Trail, Skyline Trail, Ice Age Scientific Reserve Interpretative Center, Interstate State Park, St. Croix National Scenic River, Wert Family Nature Preserve, Trail of Myths, Riegel Park, Lions Park,

CAMPING: Interstate State Park, St. Croix National Scenic River Site S55.3

LODGING: Holiday Inn Express, Dalles House Motel

Directions and Trail Map




If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner.

Address for your GPS: 1266 WI-35 St. Croix Falls WI 54024
| coordinates: 45.400204, -92.647401 |

From Milwaukee5 Hours
From Madison4 Hours
From Green Bay4 Hours
From Wausau3 Hours
From Minneapolis1 Hour
From Chicago6 Hours


Photos


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A couple enjoys hanging in hammocks atop the Old Man of the Dalles Rock formation
A couple enjoys hanging in hammocks atop the Old Man of the Dalles Rock formation

The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Horizon Rock on the Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park
Horizon Rock on the Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park

Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park
Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park

Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park
Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park

Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park
Horizon Rock Trail at Interstate State Park

Interstate State Park in St Croix Falls WI
Interstate State Park in St Croix Falls WI

Skyline Trail at Interstate State Park
Skyline Trail at Interstate State Park

A rock hop across a stream on the St. Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail
A rock hop across a stream on the St. Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

St Croix River from the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trai
St Croix River from the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Trail of Myths Loop on the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail
Trail of Myths Loop on the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Mindy Creek Segment of the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail
Mindy Creek Segment of the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Walk-in/Boat-in campsite in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
Walk-in/Boat-in campsite in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

A rock hop across a stream on the St. Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail
A rock hop across a stream on the St. Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Along the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail
Along the St Croix Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Western Terminus of the Ice Age Trail
Western Terminus of the Ice Age Trail


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