Driving into Minneapolis, you’d never guess that a valuable gem lies hidden deep within the city’s maze of freeways and city streets. Unscathed by surrounding development, Minnehaha Creek winds lazily through the city on its way to the Mississippi River.
As you hike along the creek—which is surrounded by oak savannas, streams, springs, and marshes—it’s easy to imagine yourself far away from city life. This historic hike gives you an idea of what Minneapolis must have looked like during pre-settlement days and later when hundreds of visitors traveled by rail to see these popular falls.
"Three of the city’s landmarks rich in natural geography combine for this walk: first, a lovely section of the Grand Rounds, Minnehaha Pkwy.; second, a charming business district, 48th St. and Chicago in McRae Park; and finally, a lake, Lake Nokomis.
The proximity of nature and small town–like business districts is relatively common in the Twin Cities, but this walk stands out. Minnehaha Pkwy. is one of the seven byway districts in Minneapolis’s Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Minnehaha Park passes through the neighborhood en route to Minnehaha Falls a few miles away, and just over the hill lies a quaint and quirky shopping district with numerous independently owned businesses. Nothing could be better on a hot summer day than enjoying a delicious organic ice cream at the Pumphouse Creamery after exploring the parkway and Lake Nokomis." Read more
"Minneapolis is well known as the City of Lakes, and more than 150 parks make for an impressive list of locales for recreating in the great outdoors. Minnehaha Creek makes its leisurely, scenic tour of the city from Lake Minnetonka to the Mississippi River, showcasing some of the prettiest areas of town along the way. Dignified mansions and quaint cottages, secluded ponds and wetlands, and miles of wooded greenways are all on display.
The creek concludes its journey in dramatic fashion at Minnehaha Regional Park, just upstream from the Mississippi. Camouflaged behind clusters of dense green foliage, Minnehaha Falls bursts through a slice in the vertical cliff walls and thunders 53 feet to a large pool below. It is a lively waterfall, announcing its arrival in a cacophony of frothy, vertical rapids echoing off the bluffs." Read more
"If you’re a fan of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry, or simply interested in 19th-century Americana in general, then a stop at Minnehaha Falls is an absolute must. The falls, which share the name of Longfellow’s tragically fated heroine and translate from the Dakota to mean “laughing waters,” were a major tourist attraction long before the area was designated as parkland in 1883. In the spring and summer, visitors are treated to picturesque waterfalls cascading over a tree-lined chasm and into Minnehaha Creek below; in the wintertime, the falls are frozen into glistening blue, white, and green gigantic icicles.
They’re probably not the tallest waterfalls you’ll ever see, but they are unique in their surroundings—an exquisite park with waterfalls, wildflowers, sandstone cliffs, and big, open wilderness spaces, all located in the heart of a busy metropolis." Read more
"Before you set out along the creek below the falls, it’s well worth checking out the falls from the upper walkways along the parking lot and across the bridge on the other side of the creek.
You’ve got to see the statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha—their love story inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write his famous epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. Once you’ve enjoyed the view from the upper falls area, you can descend one of the steep stairways that wind down either side of the creek into the basin created by the falls." Read more