February 8, 2015
I made a quick trip to Minneapolis and had a few hours on my hands. Being the national park geek that I am, I headed to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area to scratch one more NPS unit off the list. So I pointed towards the river, starting out at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the home base for the MNRRA, where I picked up my traditional NPS items: a passport stamp, a patch, and a hiking medallion.
After a quick intro, I departed for my driving and hiking tour of the area. As I tend to like waterfalls, I was attracted to the signs for Minnehaha Falls. Consulting my map, I saw that I could park at Coldwater Springs and hike to the falls. Coldwater Springs was nice, though a complete different type of spring than Wekiva and Blue Springs I visited in Florida last week. This one was very small (look carefully at the base of the building), with a few tranquil water features. Maybe it was just the dead of winter, but I’d guess it does not get that much more water in the summer. Still, a nice site and a nicer sound.
My hike continued generally north along the river and I soon found myself in the Minnehaha Park Off-Leash Recreation Area. What a cool park! Tens of acres of woods, streams, hills, and of course the Mississippi River. How awesome to have such a gigantic park to take your dog! I wish I had brought Denali (though she is such a nut I would have been chasing her for hours)! Beyond the dog park I soon found myself looking at some falls over a dam in the main channel of the river.
I consulted my map and was relieved I did not just spend an hour walking to see that. Those are not the falls you’re looking for 🙂 A bit more city hiking and I got my first glimpse of the falls. While I had expected falls that were flowing, I was instead greeted with evidence that it was indeed winter in Minnesota! A very cool view from street level, and as all the staircases leading down towards the falls were closed, I thought this was all I would get to see.
After checking out a few options, I followed the rest of the herd and disregarded the signs, soon making my way down to the base of the falls. A pretty amazing site.
I then threw my fears of falling on the slick ice to the side, and inched my way up the side and behind the falls. So incredibly worth the effort. Just look at that amazing blue ice!
What an amazing afternoon! I am so thankful to have discovered these falls! Thank you Minnesota.