Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Minnesota with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Another beautiful south-central Minnesota trek. Wildflowers and river hills bring this hike to life and it’s not impossible to imagine what this land looked like before touched by humans. Be sure to save time for the falls. Up on the hill is the mill, which offers a serene spot for a rest and overlook of Minnesota’s river valley. We haven’t been back since the bison arrived, so this may effect trails.
(Hiked: A few times between 2005-2015)

hiking
27 days ago

I did a solo hike of the trail in August and it kicked my butt. I am a moderately experienced BWCA paddler but had never done a hiking trip let alone a solo trip. However, I did a ton of research and felt quite prepared. It was very reassuring to read Christine's review below. Everything Christine said echoes how I felt. I planned on a 3 night stay hoping to stay on Hustler and Pageant Lake. This hike completely broke me down. I also got lost at the same point she turned around but luckily found the trail after searching for 30 min..it was so easy, how could you not find it?? ;) Anywho, by the time I got to Shell lake I could barely move. I continued past the first site along the trail on the western shores because it felt like such an unwelcoming site - essentially a huge rock slab with no shade. I ended up bushwhacking my way to the NE site below Little Shell. It was a decent site but faced the bay and could not see the sunset. This only worsened my low morale. I spent the night and booked it out of there right away the next morning. I didn't have any desire to continue on this overgrown trail. I think I'll stick to paddling or trying this later in the season when the leaves have fallen.

Do your research before doing this hike and purchase All Trails Pro version. It saved my butt and honestly was the only way to get through some areas. Check out my page if you want to see my path - it varied a bit from what's posted here. Cheers and happy hiking!

We love Nerstrand Big Woods park. You can do a short loop hike in 30 minutes, or spend half a day there and not retrace your steps. We especially love it in the winter. Without the leaves, you can really see through the woods. The trails are wide and mostly flat in the southern half, with some moderate climbs in the northern half. Usually around the beginning of Feb, the Friends of Nerstrand host a candlelight walk after dark. Lot's of fun, especially if it's snowing!

A OK

Did this trail the second week of October 2018. Many of the trees just starting to turn color. The fall was beautiful with the multi-purpose colored trees in the background. Hike is easy.

Definitely a challenging trail. We hiked in late September when foggy and overcast so have to trust that views are great. Some very steep, rocky and technical (you better look where you’re stepping before you step) sections, especially at manitou river. Great camp sites along the way. No problem finding water sources along trail. It was a real workout but a fabulous experience.

walking
2 months ago

A lovely, easy hike. Can get crowded on summer days.

on Hidden Falls Trail

walking
2 months ago

Not much of a challenge. Ground, mostly level walking surface. Interesting views off trail near the river. Interior all trees. Some large downed trees across the path in several places to maneuver around/over/under.

Excellent escape into the wilds of northern Minnesota. Great campsites for small tents. I recommend a freestanding tent as some of the sites have little area to set spikes as they are located on rock facia. Bring good hiking shoes too as some of the portages can be rugged and mucky. Nothing more ironic than getting foot blisters on a canoe trip.

Simple. Easy. Lots of up hill. Very natural and the river sounds and views are beautiful. Bring your camera.

we started at the park and went up the west side. The views of the river and waterfalls are fantastic near the park, but the trail veers away from the river about a mile up.
The trail is very poor with many tree roots and steep (but short) changes in elevation. With recent rains, we averaged about a mile per hour. (about half of our usual pace.) Strongly encourage trekking poles if it's muddy.

Nice area on a beautiful day! My dog enjoyed the water. Would come back!

Absolutely stunning!!!

very nice place to hike and the hidden falls was well worth the trip. Really appreciate how well navigated the pathes are. Good place to take your dog and enjoy the area.

hiking
3 months ago

Wonderful easy trail between the Minnehaha Falls and Mississippi River. Also very close by is great off-leash dog park.

This is not an “easy” hike. I would rate it moderate+. I also recommend trekking poles if you’re doing the actual loop. Definitely go counter clockwise if you start at 61 as Trout Creek may be impassable depending on rain it was tricky today but doable. It took me about 5.5 hours as I’m a chicken and was very cautious on the descents. Overall the trail is a lot of fun. The terrain changes and there are a lot of creeks to cross and amazing views of the river. There was some confusion at county rd 45 regarding where the west trail begins.. cross the bridge and walk until you come to a guard rail that is the start of the west part of the loop. You’ll see a large SHT placard. Enjoy!

This trail was difficult with a lot of ups and downs, but the terrain offered a lot of variety making the effort worth it. It was absolutely beautiful, and I would highly recommend it!

Went on this trail in winter and was easy to navigate even with deepish snow.

Breathtaking paths
Easy navigation
Absolutely beautiful area
Stunning fall colors right now
Only saw one or two other people which made it a perfect place for me to meditate.
Highly recommend!

Truly beautiful hiking area. There are some areas that are busy with people and some that are more quiet. Be a responsible pet parent and only bring your dog if they are good around lots people and other dogs. Bring your own water, no fountains.

Lovely stroll through the gentrified old milling district

We had a fantastic time last October. Had to cut it down to one night since there was more snow than we were expecting and the ground was not yet frozen.

Loves following the trails. There are beautiful scenic overlooks to see the fall leaves and the trails can take you right down to the river and even a couple creeks. Also a very good area to go off of the trails and explore as well

Beautiful trail! Loved the waterfalls! Rocks at the end were fun but we had to lift our little dogs.

Beautiful park!! Well maintained

Great for trail running. It's a flat hike. some really petty parts through the woods. Definitely not 3.3 miles. More like 6 miles. I will be back

hiking
4 months ago

Two friends and I attempted to do the Sioux Hustler Trail this summer, July 29-Aug 1. Two of us are very experienced backpackers, having done other trails in the BWCA, several trips on Isle Royale, the Superior Hiking Trail, and parts of the Appalachian trail. The third member of our group is a BWCA frequent flier, but hasn't done much backpacking. The Sioux Hustler Trail turned out to be one of the worst experiences of our lives.

We met at the trailhead around noon, got all our gear situated, intending to spend 3 nights on the trail, and set out on the path. The trail was severely over grown. After about a half mile, the trail takes a 90 degree left turn, but we missed that and continued on what we THOUGHT was the trail for almost 3/4 of a mile until it turned into nothing. We finally got out our GPS to consult and realized we were more than a half mile off trail. We stamped back to the trail and after an hour wasted, continued on.

After about a mile, the trail opens up to what looks like a horrible burn/tornado/beaver mess. Trees down EVERYWHERE, rocks EVERYWHERE, no trail to be seen. After a few minutes we realized that there were some faded red and orange flags on a few trees and started following them. I want to be clear that this was not easy. We would struggled our way hundreds of yards across boulders and downed trees to get to a red flag and then spend 20 minutes looking for the next flag, and repeat repeat repeat for like 2 hours until we finally emerged on the other side and back onto the "trail."

We suffered on in silence for like another 2 hours through the buggiest hike of my life. I usually am not bothered by mosquitos, but on this hike I was slathered in Sawyer Picardin and DEET and still had thousands of bites. The backs of my upper arms were bitten so many times that the bites merged together into swollen masses on the whole backs of my arms.

Finally, we came to this bridge over a small creek that was clearly marked with an arrow like, "you should cross here." Immediately after crossing the creek, the trail disappeared into nothing. Seriously, the three of us tramped around in every direction for more than hour and never found anything resembling a trail. This wasn't even to the intersection yet. We had suffered through about 4 miles in more than 5 hours and had completely lost the trail. We were all miserable and demoralized and had no desire to continue on this horrible trail for 3 more days. We decided if we high tailed it out of there, we could get back to our cars before sunset.

We sprinted as fast as one can sprint with backpacks on...through the worst trail of my life. So it was still really slow going. Made it out after about 3 hours. My legs looked like I had gone through a wood chipper. We all had tears and holes in our clothes and were bleeding from several locations each. We had all been bitten more than ever in our lives. The trail completely broke my spirit for backpacking. It had been a dream of mine to one day hike the AT or PCT and after this demoralizing day I never wanted to look at a backpack again.

It has been more than a month now and my legs are finally starting to look normal. While I do want to go on more backpacking trips in my life, I think I will steer clear of the BWCA again unless it's in a canoe. The Sioux Hustler trail, at least during mid summer, is, in my opinion, completely impassable. I have read all the other reviews on here and I have no clue how anyone could ever describe this trail as "excellent" or "easy to follow." How are we even talking about the same trail?? Do not attempt the Sioux Hustler Trail unless you enjoy being lost in the wilderness while being eaten alive.

hiking
4 months ago

Go in the morning to avoid crowds.

Nice hiking trails, well marked, all trails loop so you can choose the length of your hike. Waterfall was a trickle today, but still worth seeing.

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