Hiking the Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park in Taylor Falls MN



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Inside the Bake Oven on the Potholes Trail
Inside the Bake Oven on the Potholes Trail


One of the great natural attractions of the Upper Midwest is the Dalles of the St. Croix, a particularly scenic elbow of the St. Croix National Scenic River. It is here on the Minnesota side of the river in Taylors Falls that tourists, geologists, and explorers will find the world's deepest and most impressive glacier potholes.

The Glacier Potholes Trail is more like a self guided tour of geological features than a hike. In total the trail measures out to less than a 1/2 mile. The trail has an uneven surface, but handrails and some metal walking decks are provided to enable people of any age and athletic ability the chance to see the potholes from above, inside, and out. In addition to the famous potholes, the trail also takes hikers to panoramic overlooks of the St. Croix River and its dalles.





View of the St. Croix River from the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
View of the St. Croix River from the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park



Taylors Falls MN and St. Croix Falls WI has long been a tourist trap - complete with the expected campy attractions from the fading high renaissance of family road trips: miniature golf course, movie theater, alpine slides, feed the deer petting zoo, and riverboat expeditions. These days, those tourist attractions have expanded to include more mature entertainment in a casino at nearby Turtle Lake, a modern sculpture park in Shafer, stand up paddleboard rentals, and downhill and cross country ski parks.

The must-do of any activity in the region, is a short walk on the Glacier Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park in Minnesota. These are no ordinary highway potholes; they are the biggest and deepest potholes in the world that were drilled by glacier meltwater straight into billion year old bedrock. The depth of these potholes range from 1 foot to 60 feet. You even get to climb 35 feet down and inside one of them.

The Glacier Potholes Trail begins adjacent to the parking lot and visitor center for Interstate State Park. Along the winding trail, walkers encounter the most memorable potholes like the Lilly Pond, The Bottomless Pit, The Bake Oven, and The Cauldron. These holes in the bedrock were formed by swirling eddies as glacial Lake Duluth was being drained away into the Mississippi River Valley. Rock debris caught in the spiral of an eddy acted as a drill cutting the holes. At the bottom of each pothole those drilling stones can be found. They are called grindstones and are perfectly smooth and rounded.

The trail also takes visitors to scenic vistas of the St. Croix River from Angle Rock and Shadow Rock. And there is a tight rock passage which kids can explore called The Squeeze. In a loop-like manner the trail returns walkers back to the parking lot.

The total visit time to the Potholes Trail including time to take in the views from the overlooks tops out at about 1 hour. There are a few miles of more challenging trails to hike in the Minnesota Interstate Park. Or, you can walk across the bridge to the Wisconsin Interstate State Park and take the Wisconsin version of the potholes trail where you can get good views of the Old Man of the Dalles rock feature. The potholes trail on the Wisconsin side is also the the Western Terminus of the Ice Age National Trail - a 1200 mile footpath tracing the terminal moraines of the glaciers which sculpted much of the landscape in Wisconsin.

Check out more photos from my hike on the Potholes Trail below the Trail Map. Also, an educational video from the MN DNR is embedded below.


Platform over the Bottomless Pit on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Platform over the Bottomless Pit on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park


Glacial Potholes Trail


COUNTY: Chisago County Minnesota
COMMUNITIES: Taylors Falls
TOTAL MILES: 1/2 Mile
DIFFICULTY: Easy

POINTS OF INTEREST: Lilly Pond, Bottomless Pit, Angle Rock, Bake Oven, The Squeeze, Cracked Rock Wall,  Cauldron, Shadow Rock, St. Croix National Scenic River

CAMPING: Interstate State Park



Directions and Trail Map





Address for your GPS: 155 South St, Taylors Falls, MN 55084
| coordinates: 45.399929, -92.651455 |

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





Photos


Inside the Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Inside the Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park


Bottomless Pit on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Bottomless Pit on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Lilly Pond on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Lilly Pond on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Bake Oven on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Shadow Rock on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Shadow Rock on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park


Stand Up Paddleboarders on the St. Croix National Scenic River
Stand Up Paddleboarders on the St. Croix National Scenic River

St. Croix National Scenic River from Angle Rock at Interstate State Park
St. Croix National Scenic River from Angle Rock at Interstate State Park

The Squeeze on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
The Squeeze on the Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park

Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park
Glacial Potholes Trail at Interstate State Park




Video