Fall color drives are perfect for people of all abilities and interests, providing great opportunities to picnic, hike, or snap some photos along the way. Autumn displays vary from year to year depending on a variety of factors, but there is always beauty in Minnesota's 59 state forests. Don't miss an opportunity to get out and enjoy a fall drive!
St. Croix State Forest and Nemadji State Forest Loop.
What you'll see
Hardwood forests dominate this landscape, with a mixture of conifers for added interest. Numerous small streams wind through the forest and you will also spot vast spruce bogs along the way. You may want to plan a picnic at the Hay Creek Flowage (on Markville Road).
Where to go
From I-35, take Hinckley exit #183 and head east on State Highway 48 for 19 miles. Head north (left) on County Road 24, a gravel road (Tamarack Road & Tamarack River Road), and follow as it curves east and north for 7 miles. Turn right on County Road 25, a paved road (Mallard Lake Road), head east for 9.5 miles, to Markville. At Markville, head north on County Road 31, a gravel road (Cloverton Road), for about 5.3 miles to Cloverton. From Cloverton, continue traveling north on County Road 31 (Kingsdale Road), for 5.3 miles to a "T" in the road, (Junction of Kingsdale, Rocky Blvd and Rash Roads). At the "T" in the road, head west (left), onto the Rash Road. Continue traveling north on the Rash Road (also known as the Gandy Dancer Trail, an old railroad bed). Travel north 1.2 miles to the Rash/Park Forest Road (Park Truck Trail), and head west (left) for 13 miles. Turn north (right) on County Road 171 for 2 miles. Head west (left) on County Road 154/Kerrick Road for 5 miles. At Kerrick, head south on State Highway 23 for 18 miles to I35 exit #195.
You can extend your day in the great outdoors by visiting St. Croix State Park which is within the St. Croix State Forest. If you plan to visit the state park, be sure to purchase a park vehicle permit online before you go.
What you'll see
Drive past a variety of hardwoods and interesting attractions. Hike to the top of Barn Bluff on the south end of Red Wing for a dramatic view of the city and the Mississippi River.
You might want to bring a bike. The Goodhue-Pioneer State Trail offers 4 miles of paved bike trail from Red Wing to Hay Creek Forestry Unit. You can access the trailhead from the intersection of Hay Creek Trail/Twin Bluff Road and Pioneer Road.
Where to go
From downtown Red Wing head south on Highway 61 for 10.5 miles. At Frontenac, turn onto Country 2 to head east for 9 miles. Take a right onto County 3 to head east for 4 miles. Take a right onto State Highway 58 to head north for 1.5 miles. Take a left onto Hay Creek Trail to head north for about 4.5 miles. Hay Creek Trail turns into Twin Bluff Road at Pioneer Trail. Continue on Twin Bluff Road for 1.5 miles and turn left on East Ave to return to downtown Red Wing.
While you're in the area - consider stopping at Frontenac State Park for scenic hiking through prairies and hardwood bluffs or visit Lake Pepin. State park visitors should purchase a park vehicle permit online before you go.