Summer Vacation-worthy Workouts in the St. Croix Valley
The St. Croix Valley is naturally equipped for outdoor adventure and exercise, and well-suited to a relaxed and social vibe. From the City of Trails to the Scenic Waterway to some out-of-the-way spots to discover, the St. Croix Valley has all the terrain (and gear!) you need for a fun and fit vacation with friends.
Hit the Ground Running
There are so many trails in the St. Croix Valley, each with unique terrain and usage. St. Croix Falls, WI has been dubbed the City of Trails for its expansive web of pathways throughout the town, and Taylors Falls, on the other river bank, boasts nearly as many.
Interlink Trail Run, St. Croix Falls, WI
From Interstate Park in Wisconsin, the paved Interlink Trail pursues a north and east course for approximately 2 miles to connect with the Gandy Dancer Rail-Trail. From there, you can choose the crushed stone of the Gandy Dancer, which loops back to Interlink at the Polk County Information Center, or backtrack the same way you came. The moderately challenging uphill stretch is eased by views of the unique local landscape and rewarded by the downhill portion on the way back.
Railroad/Curtain Falls/River Trail Loop, Taylors Falls, MN
For runners with a bit more experience and a hankering for awe-inspiring views, this 5K loop has it all. The terrain includes a smattering of crushed rock, roots, stairs, hills and flat dirt, while the scenery takes you from woodland to bluffside, past a waterfall and glacial potholes, to a stretch along the St. Croix River. There are three trailheads, two located within Interstate Park and one behind the historic Taylors Falls Community Center.
The View from a Bike Seat
The City of Trails is not just for hikers. From the heart of St. Croix Falls, WI, spans a vast network of bike trails stemming from the city and continuing over rolling hills, through wooded forests, and across flat, open farm country.
An extensive, always improving, ever-expanding network of mountain bike trails is maintained by the Woolly Bike Club in St. Croix Falls. Single- and double-track trails run right though the town and beyond. Check their event calendar for races and specialty rides this summer.
What once was a railroad line, is now a nature trail of hard-packed crushed limestone, ideal for biking. The Gandy Dancer, named for the railroad repair workers who rhythmically wielded their gandy tools in unison, originates in St. Croix Falls and spans 47 miles to Danbury, WI.
Master the Mighty Waters
Whether you focus on your arms in a canoe or go for a bigger core workout in a kayak, the scenery is just as magnificent. Opt for an easier 6-mile paddle with breathtaking bluff views from either of the Interstate Parks to Osceola Landing or challenge yourself on the more northerly stretch which contains Class I and Class II rapids. From Sand Creek Landing it is about 14 miles to Highway 70 Landing, but there are many other entry points along this route (Norway Point, Nelsons, Head of the Rapids, Fox, Snake River, and Soderbeck) so you can tailor your trip to your schedule and stamina. It is about a 20-mile drive from Highway 70 Landing back to St. Croix Falls.
Paddleboard on Lake Alice, William O’Brien State Park, Marine on the St. Croix, MN
Stand-up paddlebaording is the fastest growing paddle sport in the nation. Maybe it’s because of its numerous physical benefits: it provides a combination of cardio and strength training for the entire body. Maybe it’s because it is low-impact exercise which makes it less likely to cause injury to joints, ligaments and tendons. Or perhaps it is because the rhythmic paddling motion and the soothing properties of water are a great stress reliever.
Rental links: Eric’s Canoe Renal, St Croix Falls, WI (canoe & kayak), Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rental, Taylors Falls, MN, Riverwood Canoe & Kayak, Osceola, WI (canoe, kayak & stand-up paddleboard), William O’Brien State Park, Marine on the St. Croix, MN (stand-up paddleboard)
The aerobic aspects of swimming get your heart pumping, while the natural resistance of the water works your core and tones your limbs without the stress of weights. Plus, it’s fun and relaxing!
There’s just something so peaceful about swimming laps that sets the mind on a meditative journey. The echoes of regular aquatic center conversation that seem so loud on the pool deck fade away to virtual silence once you hit the water. The physical benefits and mental clarity that come with swimming make it an idyllic vacation workout.
Lake Swimming, Lake O’ the Dalles at Interstate Park, St. Croix Falls, WI
Alleviate tense muscles after a long day of adventure with a refreshing lake swim. Lake O’ the Dalles is a relatively shallow lake (12-foot maximum depth) and does not allow motorized watercraft, helping to keep the waters calm and safe. Hiking trails emerge on the beach making it easy to cool down or warm up with a beautiful nature walk.
Fuel Your Body
After a great workout, you’ll need to refuel. On one hand, you might want to keep the health train rolling, but on the other hand, you’ve certainly earned a bit of indulgence. So, what’s it going to be? Naughty or nice?
Nice – The Vegetarian, St. Croix Falls, WI
You won’t find any fries on this menu! Authentic, meatless Indian food ranges from mild to spicy and is served in a cozy, yet modern setting with local art on the wall.
Nice & Fast – Juneberry Café, Taylors Falls, MN
It’s fast food without the deep fryers and greasy grills. Easily grabbable food items, packaged ready to take on your adventure, please a variety of healthy eating lifestyles from gluten-free to organic to vegetarian to vegan.
A Little Naughty, A Little Nice – Our Place Café, St. Croix Falls, WI
Salads and sandwiches, burgers and fries, coffee cake and omelets…The menu features options to please those in your group seeking lighter fare as well as those craving satisfying comfort food.
The article "Summer Vacation-worthy Workouts in the St. Croix Valley" was produced by Linda Shober Marketing + Design and written by Karen Lawrence. Linda Shober Marketing and Design is located in the St. Croix Valley and specializes in providing content, strategy, management, design, and creative for digital and traditional marketing projects.