If you're looking for yet another little known hike, look no further than Scandia, MN. Here you will find two parks side-by-side: Wind in the Pines Preserve & Falls Creek SNA. Both of these parks are tricky to find as there isn't any signage on Hwy 95 indicating they are there. That's what makes them so awesome! You will often find yourself all alone in these parks which makes for a neat experience so close to the cities. Dogs are not allowed at either park so leave Spot at home.
The parks also sit alongside private property so please stay within the park boundaries and be respectful of the neighbors.
Wind in the Pines is part of the Scandia park system and is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers. You start out on some wide, fairly flat trails which then splinter off into single track paths that wind their way across the top of steep-sided ridge lines and down into the ravines below. At the bottom you will find a slow moving stream that has a few log crossings you must navigate. Signage along the trails is limited. The trail near the stream can be a little illusive in the fall but if you look closely you can find your way. It really is beautiful.
Just north of Wind in the Pines (about a 1/4 of a mile) is the Falls Creek SNA maintained by the DNR. This outdoor space is like other SNAs where there are no trails or grooming done. This makes for a completely wild, self-guided experience. It's pretty hills in spots but fun and beautiful to just be out in nature exploring. At the low part of the park there is a nice flat section to hike and some large fallen trees to hop over or take a break and just be quiet.
I hope you'll take some time to go check out these two wild places as they offer something a little different than some other parks. Finding them is half the fun and exploring with your family and friends is even better!
If you'd like to view a video I put together on these two parks, please visit here.
Wind in the Pines Preserve & Falls Creek SNA
Open 4 am - sunset daily
From downtown Stillwater:
Road to Wind in the Pines:
Just north of Wind In The Pines is the Falls Creek SNA: