Minnesota History series
Before embarking on your journey, be sure to solve all the clues. Your hike will take you approximately one hour (not including stamping time) and will be over slightly rocky and uneven terrain. The hike isn’t difficult, but be sure to bring water and wear comfortable shoes for hiking. There are some boxes that require walking through light underbrush so wear appropriate pants. Also, some areas might be muddy depending on recent rainfall.
Bring a COMPASS, water, and stamp pads.
Begin your journey at the park that contains the waterfall made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 poem. Enter at the south end of the park near the off-leash dog park at the intersection of Hwy _____ (the year that Prince was born in Minneapolis, minus the year that “The Little Brown Jug” Minnesota vs. Michigan tradition started) and _______ St. E. (the answer above minus 1).
Park at any of the metered spots within the first small lot that you’ll see soon after the road curves to the left (there is also parking along the street that’s immediately to your right after your turn into the park). All parking spots are metered so be sure to bring plenty of quarters.
Box #1: "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow"
(History: Longfellow never actually visited these falls, but his words made them instantly popular.)
After parking, walk away from the highway and across the picnic area to the short, black chain-link fence that follows the woods. There is a cement path that follows along the fence. Follow the path northwest until there is a break in the fence. Find the map on the stone and make sure you’re at marker 13. Continue down the larger path to the left. Follow the path until you come to three choices: 1) stairs on your right, 2) path directly ahead, and 3) large rock on your left. Choose the rock. At the rock, take a reading of 258 degrees and head in that direction for 22 steps towards the tree supporting a fallen comrade. Your first box is at the base of this tree under rocks. Be discreet and rehide him well!
Box #2: "Song of Hiawatha"
(History: The "Song of Hiawatha" is based on Indian legend and was finished in 1855)
Return back to the path you were on and venture down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, take the path to your left. Continue past the campfire area to the first stone bridge, but don’t cross. From the stone bridge, continue for 69 steps to a large, dead tree on the left. From there, take 23 steps. In the woods on the left of the path, there will be a gnarly tree about 6 steps from the path. At this tree, take a reading of 188 degrees. Hike to the tree that is at this reading at the base of the steep incline (there will be a lone tree to the right that stands in front of moss-covered boulders). At the base of the tree, you will find the box in the “root cage” covered by rocks. Be discreet and rehide well!
Box #3: "The artist formerly known as 'the artist formerly known as Prince'"
(History: Prince was born in Minneapolis in 1958)
Return back to the path and continue on. Walk over the boardwalk and continue until you come to the second stone bridge (don’t cross!). Ahead you will see a Y in the path marked by a post. At the post, take the path to the left for 60 steps. Follow the small path on the left into the woods for 12 steps. Look to your right at the fallen giant. You’ll find this box behind a rock in the hole that is about 3 to 4 feet from the wishbone. Again, be discreet and rehide well.
Again, return to the path and continue on. You will pass the third stone bridge. From this point, the rest of the boxes are on the other side of the river and the third bridge will be your cross-over point. However, a short walk will bring you to the fourth bridge for a great view of the falls. Up the stairs is a lovely park, restrooms, and a refreshment area with beverages, sandwiches and ice cream.
Box #4 "Dandelion"
(History: Some reports say that the first dandelion introduced into the United States was planted by Jacob Webster in Caledonia, Minnesota)
Back to bridge number 3! This time, cross over to the other side of the river. At the end of the bridge, take the path to the right along the river. Stay on the “main road”. You’ll come back to bridge number 2 on your right (don’t cross!). From bridge number 2, take 58 steps to a 3-trunked giant on the right of the path. At this giant, take a reading of 105 degrees. Take fifteen steps at 105 degrees towards a railroad tie barrier. Continue on at 105 degrees into the woods for another 15 steps to the feet of a fallen tree covered with small rock slabs. At the left of his feet, under his smallest toe, remove the smaller pieces of slate (Don’t remove the larger, “roof” slate) to find the box. Rehide well.
Box #5 "The Little Brown Jug"
(History: In the early 1900's, after a tie football game between Minnesota and Michigan at the University of Minnesota, the custodian discovered that the Michigan coach had left one of their earthenware water jugs behind. When the Michigan coach wrote to have the jug returned, the Minnesota coach told him, "if you want it, you'll have to win it". To this day the jug is still presented to the winner of a Minnesota vs. Michigan football game.)
Continue on down the main path until you see a large boulder on the right and three benches in front of you. Follow the path to the right of the boulder until it curves to the left. Immediately after the path curves, turn into the woods on your left and you will see a small rock wall. Walk to the right side of the wall and look for the three slabs on the top shelf and a lighter, triangular slate further right. Look for the box two rows directly beneath the middle of the three slabs behind small slates that are easily removed. Rehide well.
There will be no more boxes, but if you cross back over the river and walk past the stairs, you’ll meet the point where Minnehaha Creek meets the Mississippi River.