It’s not as splashy and well-known as Minnehaha Falls, its close neighbor across the river, but the Hidden Falls in St. Paul have their own charm. Take a short hike through the woods to find the secret, spring-fed waterfall that hides just below Mississippi River Blvd. There is plenty of grassy space and areas to picnic in Hidden Falls Regional Park, plus you can get down close to the river on a quiet sandy beach. Enjoy the trails year round for seasonal views. It is a great park to visit for a low key family fun day. There is a restroom building and off-street parking is available. Note that the park sometimes floods in the spring and at that time Hidden Falls closes.
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7 Ideas for Family Fun at Hidden Falls Park
- Pack a picnic – There are grills available near the pavilion if you would prefer a hot meal.
- Hike to the waterfall – While perhaps not as grand as Minnehaha Falls, kids still love this hidden waterfall and the walk is an easy walk from either the parking lot or from River Road. The path is easy to find from the parking lot. However, this is a “hike” in that it is not stroller-friendly. For Families with smaller kids and strollers, check out the new plaza overlook. St. Paul Parks has added a temporary wood staircase to the overlook above the falls that connects to the Mississippi River Boulevard Trail. Eventually this wood staircase will be replaced with stone.
- Hike to Uŋčí Makhá Park in the new Highland Bridge development along the Mississippi River Boulevard Trail. Uŋčí Makhá Park is part of St. Paul’s re-imagining of the old Ford Motor Plant. It is only a half mile from Hidden Falls and offers a nature playground, hammock grove and space to picnic.
- Enjoy the “beach” – There is a quiet, sandy beach of sorts, but it is not guarded and the undercurrent can be dangerous. If you choose to wade or swim, we highly recommend life jackets for small children and that an adult supervise and be aware of the currents. This may be best for a bit of splashing about from the safety of the sand.
- Go fishing – The DNR recommends this park as a Fishing in the Neighborhood spot. Because this is part of the Mississippi River, their is a great variety of fish. The best fishing spots are are upstream from the parking lot
- Have a bonfire – There is a public fire pit near the river.
- Take a family bike ride – Anne lists this park as sitting along one of The Best St Paul Bike Trails for Families. Important to note: it’s not necessary to bike the steep descent into the park in order to view the waterfall – there is a place to pull over directly above it on the trail.
Goats at Hidden Falls Regional Park
In 2017, Saint Paul introduced 37+ goats to area parks to help reduce invasive buckthorn overgrowth. Hidden Falls was one of the first parks to participate. This program proved successful and goats are periodically brought in to help manage and restore natural areas throughout the city. Other municipalities have also started using goats in parks. Watch St. Paul’s social media posts to know when you might get a glimpse of these working goats.
Improvements to Hidden Falls Regional Park
The City of St. Paul has recently completed and adopted the Master Plan for this Park in 2019, which guides park improvements, natural resources management, and makes recommendations for changes within or adjacent to the park. Some of the upcoming improvements will be to add a nature play area and more restrooms, upgrade the utilities for cultural events like the Halloween Spectacular, to protect and restore natural resources, and to improve the trails (walking, skiing & biking) and connect them to other trails. They may add a river learning center. They are also considering a pump track for bicycles, but this idea isn’t even ranked, so don’t hold your breath.
Hidden Falls Regional Park & Trails Map
Print the park map to see both the bike and dirt walking trails as well as the location of other park amenities.