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Minneapolis, MN: Afton State Park

From bluffs to beaches to a bluebird trail, this 3.5-mile lollipop loop samples Afton State Park and the shores of the federally-designated wild and scenic St. Croix River.

Rating

Habitats merge and, even on busy summer days, hikers find solitude on over 20 miles of hiking trails in Afton State Park. This 3.5-mile day or overnight trip begins at the visitor center and heads north down 100-steps toward the St. Croix River. The trail turns left after passing a popular swimming beach and goes under an old railroad bridge to begin a 2.3-mile loop. Winding under hardwoods, through remnant farmlands and uphill to a 150-year-old pine plantation, the trail intersects a left-hand spur trail at mile 1.4. Turn left for an overnight at the 24-site hike-in campground, or turn right to complete the loop in one day.

As the trail heads north it passes the old Oliver Charlie farmstead and traverses a recent oak woodland restoration area before a few short switchbacks to the river. From there it’s 1.1 miles on the railroad-grade trail or, if the water level is low, along the river’s rocky beach to the picnic area. Look for eagles and ducks near the water’s edge and pileated woodpeckers and kingbirds along the forested cliffs. From the swimming beach and picnic area it’s just 0.5 familiar miles—100 steps, remember?—uphill to the visitors center.
 
-Mapped by Afton State Park

To Trailhead

Take I-94 E to MN-95S and drive 7 miles south to 70th St S. Turn left onto 70th St. In 3.5 miles, turn right at Peller Ave. and drive 1.8 miles to the visitor's center and trailhead.

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