A Little Time and a Keyboard: Forest Bathing and Chasing Waterfalls at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Forest Bathing and Chasing Waterfalls at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin

Forest Bathing and Chasing Waterfalls at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin

Forest Bathing and Chasing Waterfalls at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin

Willow River State Park in Hudson, Wisconsin easily entices visitors with the rush of Willow Falls and the spectacular landscape of the Willow River Gorge. Several drops add to the splendor of the falls. However, 12 miles trails fanning out into the forest are not to be missed.


Summer day enjoying the splendor of Willow Falls in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Summer day enjoying the splendor of Willow Falls.

We began our hiking adventure at Willow River State Park by descending down to the bottom of the falls. To descend down to the falls, we hiked down a paved path. Some parts were particularly steep. Trails do spin off of the main trail allowing for exploring more of nature's wonders.

Wooded paths invite forest bathing at Willow River State Park.
Wooded paths invite forest bathing at Willow River State Park.

While Willow Falls is an incredibly popular point of discovery, Willow River State Park includes an incredible 2,911 acres ready for an array of nature adventures. So, when you visit plan to spend more time than what it will take you to explore the waterfalls.

Summer sun beckoning exploration of the trails in Willow River State Park
Summer sun beckoning exploration of the trails.

During our visit, we quickly discovered trails that spindled off from the trail to the falls greeting us with green tree-lined trails. These trails seemed not quite as busy as the trail to the falls, so we enjoyed some peaceful forest bathing. We also spotted quite a few birds adding to the rich natural experience.

Bridge crossing the Willow River with a view of Willow Falls.
Bridge crossing the Willow River with a view of Willow Falls.
Of course, we were swept up in the beauty of Willow Falls. A bridge provides a different vantage point for views as well as a way to cross to other trails. There also are overlooks that we did not wander to during this visit.

Up close view of Willow Falls in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Up close view of Willow Falls.
While waterfalling, you can bask in moments pretty close to the falls. Some explorers waded in the water which was surely quite refreshing on the hot summer day of our visit!

Willow Falls features several cascade drops.
Willow Falls features several cascade drops.
Willow River State Park maintains historical significance. The area was first inhabited by Native Americans. Archaeological digs have discovered a collection of settlement artifacts. Burial grounds add sanctity to the area as well as that along the St. Croix River. Battles between the Chippewa and Santee Sioux waged over the rice lakes of the St. Croix Basin. Later, European settlers would use the area as a fur trading post. Then, farming and logging became important to the economy of the region.

Wetland views uplift.
Wetland views uplift.

At times, dams were used along the river to generate electricity. However, the uneven flow of the Willow River provided an unreliable supply. Throughout time, dams were removed from Willow River and the river was restored to its natural flow. There is still a dam at Little Falls Dam.

Spectacular moment standing in the gorge at Willow River State Park
Spectacular moment standing in the gorge.

Willow River State Park opened to nature enthusiasts in 1971. Today, we can enjoy a range of nature activities at Willow River State Park including hiking, camping, fishing and more. The natural wonders of Willow River State Park rewarded us with a much needed nature getaway. Truly one of Wisconsin's nature gems!

Forest Bathing and Chasing Waterfalls at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin

1 comment:

  1. This is one Wisconsin state park I'm not familiar with. I know my kids will love it... maybe we can make it there this summer!

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