Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Willow River State Park is located on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix border. It is open year round and offers hiking trails, camping, lake activities, and a wonderful waterfall at Willow Falls.

Once you have purchased your pass, there is a parking lot off of County Road A that will be the most direct route to the waterfall. If you park here, there is a trail right off of the parking lot, and you will want to go to the left at the fork. This will take you to a very steep downhill. During the winter, this can be a treacherous climb; use caution! You can walk through the woods next to the path in order to make the trek down a little easier. During summer, this is a wonderful walk beneath a canopy of trees with a great view of the river. It will be about a mile from here to the waterfall. Once you have made it to the bottom of the hill, you will go to the right and walk along the river.

If you choose to go into the main entrance, you can continue to drive through the park down to Little Falls Lake and park in the lot. There are restrooms here and a nature center. Right now, the lake is drained, so you are unable to swim or go boating. As of 2019, state authorities are fixing the dam, and once completed the lake will be refilled and stocked. There is a paved path that will take you next to the lake and through the campsites leading to the waterfall and along the Willow River. This is a longer hike that utilizes the other parking lot, but if you bring your bikes it is an easy ride through the park. It is about a 2-mile walk or ride to the falls from this parking lot.

Once you have made it to the waterfall, you can continue on the Burkhardt Trail, which will lead you to a crow's nest high up on the bluff that has sweeping views of the falls along with the bluffs and valley that it is located in. In order to get to the crows nest, you will have to climb a very long set of stairs or take the long way around that has a gradual trail that winds up the bluff to the top. During the summer, many people swim in the pools on top of the falls. Use caution when doing this; if the water is high you could be in for a ride.

Willow River State Park also has a few playgrounds for the kids and eight different hiking trails that you can explore. All of the trails are easily accessible, and there is a mix of loop trails and out-and-back trails, depending on what you would like to do. The area is filled with beautiful trees and great views of Willow River. There are multiple picnic areas that are covered for all-weather picnics. You are required to purchase a day pass from the ranger station or one of the pay stations in the parking lot areas unless you have a Wisconsin State Park pass.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Car fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great hiking. Paved trails. Waterfall. Camping. Multiple access points. Big views.

Cons

Winter can make it tough to access waterfall.

Features

Near lake or river
Family friendly
Potable water
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Fishing
Wildflowers
Flushing toilets

Location

Nearby Adventures

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