When we think of waterfalls in Minnesota we usually think of the North Shore in the summer and all of the beautiful falls along Hwy 61 like High Falls in Tettegouche State Park. But, there is beauty to be found in the cold of winter right here in town. So grab some snacks, throw on your winter coats, and jump in your car to check out local gorgeous and natural “ice sculptures”!

Note: waterfalls are listed in proximity to Minneapolis, MN. 

1. Minnehaha Falls

I’m sure we all already know about Minnehaha Falls and have been there a million times. But have you been there in the winter? The ice and snow completely transform the falls so definitely don’t miss this one since it’s so easy to get to! If you do visit, please listen to the no trespassing signs and stay away from the falls themselves. There was an incident last week where people didn’t listen to the signs and the ice collapsed. Stay safe!

Park: Minnehaha Regional Park
4801 S Minnehaha Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Distance from MPLS: 5.4 miles (15 minutes)
Cost: Free if on the street, otherwise there are pay lots and parking meters available
GPS: 44.915328, -93.211147 Map it

2. Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls in St. Paul is another one that’s so close to town you have no excuse for missing it!

Park: Hidden Falls Regional Park
1313 Hidden Falls Dr.
Saint Paul, MN 55116
Distance from MPLS: 7 miles (18 minutes)
Cost: Free
GPS: 44.909000, -93.192352 Map it

3. Willow Falls

Ironically, the next closest falls to Minneapolis is across the border in Wisconsin. Willow Falls is an amazing tiered waterfall set within a 200-foot deep sandstone gorge. If you park in the falls parking lot off of County Road A it’s a short .25 mile walk to the falls. But if you want a longer hike check out their trail guide.

Park: Willow River State Park
1034 County Highway A
Hudson, WI 54016
Distance from MPLS: 34 miles (40 minutes)
Cost: $11 for Minnesotans (or have a WI State Park pass)
GPS: 45.019786, -92.674569 Map it

4. Cascade Falls

Another Wisconsin waterfall that’s close to the Minnesota border is Cascade Falls. This waterfall is right near downtown Osceola so after you check out the waterfall you can walk through this historic small town. In fact, the falls used to support a mill which is why the town built up around the falls.

Park: Mill Pond Park
1st Ave,
Osceola, WI 54020
Distance from MPLS: 47 miles (55 minutes)
Cost: Free
GPS: 45.3193, -92.7043 Map it

5. Hidden Falls

We’re back in Minnesota! This Hidden Falls (Yes, another one! There are a lot of waterfalls named Hidden Falls!) is just south of Northfield in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. A short .5 mile hike from the parking lot will take you to the falls. Be sure to bring some traction for your feet as when we visited a couple of weeks ago the trail was pure ice! Check out our blog post about our visit to the falls for more information.

Park: Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
9700 170th Street East
Nerstrand, MN 55053
Distance from MPLS: 57 miles (60 minutes)
Cost: $5 (or have a MN State Park pass)
GPS: 44.348062, -93.102645 Map it

6. Minnemishinona Falls

This 42′ tall waterfall was on private land until it became a park in 2007. Note that you can only see this falls from above via a bridge that crosses over it. There are no trails to the base of the falls making this a quick visit as the parking area is 150 feet from the bridge. You can see two waterfalls in a day if you check out this one along with Minneopa Falls as they’re right across the Minnesota River from one another.

Park: Minnemishinona Falls Overlook
40923 Judson Bottom Road
Mankato, MN 56003
Distance from MPLS: 83 miles (84 minutes)
Cost: Free
GPS: 44.169917, -94.085280 Map it

7. Minneopa Falls

Minneopa Falls is a series of two falls – one with an 8′ drop followed by a drop of almost 40′ into a scenic gorge. From the parking lot it’s a short walk to a bridge and large overlook over the gorge.

In our opinion, this is the most beautiful falls on the list.

For the more adventurous, you can follow a series of trails to the bottom of the gorge. Note that as of Dec 16, 2016 a section of the loop trail around falls is closed according to the DNR, but the other section of the trail will still get you to the bottom. Note that you will have to descend some ice or snow covered stairs to get to the creek bottom and the DNR has signs recommending that you do not walk on the frozen creek so please use caution.

Park: Minneopa State Park (southern unit)
547th Ave,
Mankato, MN 56001
Distance from MPLS: 85 miles (90 minutes)
Cost: $5 (or have a MN State Park pass)
GPS: 44.14861, -94.08996 Map it

Did we miss your favorite waterfall? Let us know in the comments!

For more information about waterfalls in Minnesota check out gowaterfalling.com.

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About the author

I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.


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