With COVID restrictions increasing throughout the summer and my plans to go to Europe all but gone, I decided I would take advantage of this and travel throughout my home state. I had planned to go to every waterfall in the state by the end of the summer. My first stop was Banning State Park, which is an hour and a half drive from the Twin Cities.
The cost to enter the park is USD 7 and you can pay online or pay at a dropbox. Once COVID restrictions are lowered you will payable to pay by card at the park, currently, there is no one working the permit office.
Day 1 – Day Hike & 2 Waterfalls 07.07.2020
Banning state park is split by the Kettle River. The first stop was to see the Wolf Creek falls. There are a few options to do this, you can either drive to the Banning Campground or you can park by the Kettle River and hike there. I parked by the kettle river and walked around a bit and tried to walk to Hell’s Gate, the hike gets a bit more challenging, and being by myself I’m more risk-averse so I had to turn around. The hike to Hell’s Gate is approx. 3.2 km (2 mi).
On the way back I found a trail (High Bluff Trail) that led directly to Wolf Creek Falls, this trail is 1.4 km (0.9 mi) long. This is not the most scenic hike, a lot of it is in the middle of the woods and has a lot of mosquitos. The trail then merges into Wolf Creek Trail which is 300 meters (0.2 mi) to the falls.
Once you get to the falls there is a little swimming hole, it may be deep enough to jump off the falls but there looked to be a lot of rocks and trees so I wouldn’t do it.
The next stop was to Big Springs Falls, which you can walk to from Wolf Creek Falls but it would be a long alk and you would have to walk through the town of Sandstone. I drove instead, there is a small parking lot near the entrance and your parking pass from Banning also works here.
The walk to the falls is short, about 1 km (.62 mi). Before you get to the falls there is a nice overlook of the Kettle River. The falls are nothing impressive but in the middle of the summer, you can walk directly to them.
Two waterfalls down, a lot more to go! Minnesota Waterfall Counter:
- Wolf Creek Falls – Banning State Park
- Big Spring Falls – Banning State Park
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