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On the Minnesota edge of Wisconsin’s Western Region, Kinnickinnic State Park is a 1,242-acre park in which the Kinnickinnic River, locally known as Kinni River, joins the St. Croix River. The mouth of the Kinnickinnic River forms a sandy delta upon which boaters can picnic and camp.Kinnickinnic State Park is a large park that offers something for everyone. It has over 1,000 acres of land with trails to enjoy and forests to explore.
If you are using this guide as an introduction to the park, we recommend starting at the Park Office where you can find detailed maps of all of the different areas in Kinnickinnic State Park. You will also find helpful staff members who can answer any questions that you have!
A Complete Guide To Kinnickinnic State Park
Wisconsin has a rich park system that is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors of America’s Dairyland. Kinnickinnic State Park offers something for everyone with its plentiful activities, breathtaking landscapes, and opportunities to connect with nature.
Since this is a day park – it is set up for that perfect picnicing experience! Tables and grills are available at a variety of locations throughout the park. The largest picnic area is at the St. Croix overlook. Another popular picnic area is near the swimming area.
History of Kinnickinnic State Park
The area of what is now Kinnickinnic State Park has been a favorite summer destination since roughly 1883. Being located close to the twin cities, it was the perfect place to get out of town and relax.
There is a funny story about this – in the early 20th century, when Wisconsin was looking over land for state parks, this area along the Kinni river was looked at. It just took quite a few years before they finally did something about it!
In a memorable effort to make the park a reality, three families donated parcels of their land to the state. Carl and Alice Pemble, Homer and Mildred Creswell and George and Wilma Richter donated a total of 45 acres to the Department of Natural Resources for the creation of a new state park. These gifts, combined with the overwhelming support of the remainder of the affected landowners, so impressed the Natural Resources Board that they established Kinnickinnic State Park in 1972.Wisconsin DNR
Kinnickinnic Park was established in 1961 as a camping park. Today, it is still one of the most popular parks among campers for its easy accessibility and scenic beauty.
In 1976, the Kinni River’s mouth became part of Kinnickinnic State Park. The St. Croix River offers challenging kayaking or canoeing on some days while other days are perfect for beginner paddlers looking to enjoy nature at their own pace.
Volunteers have always been a huge part of the Kinnickinnic State Park history – they have restored about 50 acres of prairie, developed almost 7 miles of hiking trails, and then planted more than 20,000 trees!
That is a serious commitment to nature!
Kinnickinnic State Park Camping
Here is the thing with this park – it is what they call a “day park” – which means that there are no campsites available. At. All.
It is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round, but not 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.
You simply can’t stay there overnight, unless you are on your boat and in the designated mooring area.
Have no worries- there is a ton of stuff to do during the day – and plenty of places close enough to rest your head at night.
There are plenty of options available at night so don’t worry about not being able to stay overnight here! One option would be camping down south by Stockholm where there is access for RVs/trailers as well as tent sites (or head back north up Highway 35E) and camp at one of the many primitive campsites on the Kinnickinnic River.
Kinnickinnic State Park Activities
Have no worries- Kinnickinnic has plenty of other activities to fill your time! Here’s just a few:
Hiking, biking, running (you can borrow bikes), canoeing and kayaking in the Kinnickinnic River, picnicking by the lake, or on any one of many scenic picnic areas inside the park.
As for wildlife viewing? Head up Highway 35E past Stockholm and you’ll also find access to hunting grounds where you might spot deer, turkeys, and Canada geese during the winter months.
Let’s get more into detail!
Kinnickinnic State Park Water Sports
Kinnickinnic State Park has a beach area located on the Kinnickinnic River. Bring your paddle board, kayak or canoe and hit the water!
Kinnickinnic State Park Park Fishing
If fishing is your thing then this is an amazing place for it! You’ll be able to hit the water from either bank of the Kinnickinnic River. This stretch also offers fly fishermen plenty of access points where they might catch brown trout, steelhead fish, and Chinook salmon too!
If you like German brown trout – the Kinnickinnic River is the perfecta trout stream for you!
If walleye is more your thing – the St. Croix river will let you wiggle your worm from either shore or your boat.
You can also go fishing off of the pier in warmer months for largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill and other fish species found locally.
Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.
Kinnickinnic State Park Swimming
There is a great sandy beach at the park, and the swimming area is marked with buoys. You won’t have a lifeguard to look over you, but the sandy beach and gorgeous view more than make up for it.
We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload
Kinnickinnic State Park Kayaking
During the summer, you can rent kayaks at the Kinnickinnic State Park area and explore nearby lakes or head upstream to find some rapids.
It is a great place to bring your boat, kayak, or even canoe. Water skiing, sunbathing and windsurfing are very popular here.
Kinnickinnic State Park Kayak Rental
While this park doesn’t offer rentals, there are many places close by that can assist you:
Kinni Kayaks, River Guide Kayaks, and even Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters ae close, and all offer tours of some sort. It these crazy Covid-19 times, it is always advisable to do a quick Google search, and contact them directly to make sure their hours and offeirings are still the same as many websites are never updated.
Hiking at Kinnickinnic State Park
All of those volunteers had been busy as Kinnickinnic State Park offers about 9.2 miles of hiking trails winding through hills, woods and prairies. Off-road bicycling is allowed on the Red Trail only…so you can enjoy the other trails without worrying about getting run over.
The 8 trails are named by color: Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown. They range from half a mile long to almost 3 miles and all offer slightly different scenery.
Keep in mind that there are rattlesnakes at Kinnickinnic State Park – should you encounter one on the trail, use your head and follow precautions.
This is a quick overview of the trails
– The Pink Trail is a mile and a half long and is accessible from a number of parking areas near the park office. This relatively open and flat trail leads along the forest edge around a few small prairie areas.
– The Red Trail offers almost three miles of hiking in either direction. The trail is relatively easy and winds through prairies, pine plantations and open hardwood forests. It follows the contours of the Kinnickinnic bluff and provides scenic views of the Kinnickinnic River valley.
Hidden Falls is actually a hidden waterfall and you can only see a small glimpse of it at the bottom of the ravine.
– The Orange Trail is only a half mile long, but will give hikers a challenge as they go along a wooded trail that follows the steep bluff edge atop of the Kinnickinnic River valley. This trail has some hills and more difficult terrain so make sure you have the proper footwear before heading out on this adventure!
– The Yellow Trail is just over a mile in length. This trail is accessible from the Kinni Overlook lot and is a loop along the forest and prairie edge. This trail is relatively flat and is a great spot to see wildlife such as deer, pheasants and turkeys.
– The Green Trail is a favorite for kids with its one mile loop that takes them around the perimeter of a large prairie area and is accessible from the Yellow trail. These native grasslands are being restored and are home to many birds and other animals. Even timber rattlesnakes are occasionally seen on this trail.
– The Blue Trail is an easy hike of less than a mile which leads hikers on a wooded trail that connects the east half of the park with the west half. There are some steep hills on this trail as it dips in and out of the gorges and coulees that run into the Kinnickinnic River valley.
– The Purple Trail with a one-mile loop, this wooded, rolling trail bisects the picnic area and leads southwest along the bluff atop the Kinnickinnic River Delta, intersecting with the Orange and Yellow trails.
– The Brown Trail is the shortest at about a tenth of a mile and leads to a small overlook.
Most trails allow dogs too – if your furry friend wants some exercise along side you then bring them along! Just remember that all pets must be leashed while visiting the park grounds.
Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map
You can access it here and print off a copy for yourself:
Golfing in the area
While there is no golf course IN the park, Clifton Hollow Golf Club is close, in River Falls. Awesome golf course with a fun layout of holes, and great pricing.
Kinnickinnic State Park Hunting
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.
You need to follow general safety precautions like wear the trusty blaze orange gear and know where you can and can not point that rifle.
Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails.
Kinnickinnic State Park in Winter
During winter, the Red, Blue, Brown, Pink and Black trails are packed and open as multi-use trails. Hiking, snowshoeing, skate or classic skiing, skijoring and pets are allowed on these trails. Fat tire bicycles are allowed on the Red Trail only.
Classic-only cross-country skiing is allowed on the Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange trails. Winter use and directional designations apply to these classic ski trails once the trails are snowcovered and groomed. NO hiking, snowshoeing, skate skiing, skijoring or pets are allowed on these trails.
Kinnickinnic State Park and Dogs
Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.
They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.
ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the St. Croix Animal Friends at (715) 749-3763.
Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.
Other animals like white-tailed deer, raccoons, American minks, red- and gray fox, Eurasian red squirrel, rabbit, weasel and North American beavers have all been spotted at Kinnickinnic.
Hotels Near Kinnickinnic State Park
If you want more time in the area, make sure you book an overnight room at one of the area hotels.
Best Western Plus Campus Inn
This 3-star hotel has rooms that are larger than you might think, and an awesome “Continental” breakfast. Not your typical muffins, fruit and cereal – they have things like ham omelets, Cinnamon French toast and biscuits and gravy with eggs. 100 Spring St, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-1045
Country Inn River Falls
Off Highway 65, this relaxed, country-style hotel is a 3-minute drive from River Falls, and 2.4 miles from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. 1525 Commerce Ct, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-9500
Historic Afton House Inn
Country-chic rooms, some with river views, in a warm inn offering fine dining & a cozy wine bar. 3291 St Croix Trail S, Afton, MN 55001•(651) 436-8883
Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides
Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.