• Danielle St. Louis

Kinnickinnic State Park

Updated: Jun 3

Before heading back to Madison from Interstate, we made one final stop at Kinnickinnic State Park, which is just west/southwest of River Falls, WI. When we get to a park, I always stop in the office and ask where dogs are and are not allowed. The attendant at Kinnickinnic said what I expected. She told me where the pet picnic area is and that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach near the swim area. But she did tell us that dogs are allowed on the beach to the left of the swim area. I thanked her for the information, and off we went.

Lucky Exploring the Beach at Kinnickinnic State Park

Now normally, when there is a section of beach where dogs are allowed, it’s usually the worst section of beach—you know, the section where people don’t want to go. So as we made our way down to the beach, I was anticipating a narrow, rocky strip of shoreline where Lucky could wade in the water a bit. I wasn’t expecting someplace we’d want to spend any length of time. We walked along the back of the people beach, headed down towards the water, and then looked left. What I saw amazed me! It was an actual BEACH. It was sandy and wide enough for plenty of towels, picnic baskets, and sunbathers. There were several boats moored offshore in the St. Croix River, and there were a couple dogs chilling on the beach. Surveying the entire shoreline, I was impressed that the area left of the swim area accounted for roughly two thirds of the beach!

I let Lucky off leash so he could go for a swim, and he waded in among the power and pontoon boats. Despite having to share the area with all of these vessels, I was really loving the vibe of this beach and would be happy to go back again for a longer visit. After his swim, Lucky made friends with another dog on the beach, but we quickly departed after Lucky got too friendly and started humping his new friend. He can be so naughty. ☹

Next we went for a hike through part of the old growth oak forest and the extensive prairie. The afternoon was warming up, and by the time we got to the lengthy stretch of trail through the prairie, we were welcoming the brooding clouds to our vicinity. The temperature was tolerable as long as the sun remained cloaked by the clouds; the trail no longer offered any shade. By the time we made it back to the car, we’d drank most of our water, and we’d also worked up an appetite. We had to go all the way back to the park office to refill our water bottles, and then we backtracked to the pet picnic area.

On our way back from getting the water, we encountered a doe and her two fawns in the road. She was leading them across the road, but they were reluctant to follow. She continued to walk across and then down the other side of the road, until finally, they both crossed to her side. But just as they did, the doe changed her mind and went back across the street, jumping headlong into the woods and brush. The fawns were less reluctant now and hightailed it across the road, leaping into the dense vegetation after her. Thankfully, Lucky didn’t seemed to notice the deer, and we were able to enjoy the encounter peacefully.

Back at the pet picnic area, we enjoyed some lunch in the shade and said hello to other hikers passing through on the Blue Trail. At this point in our long weekend that included four days of hiking, three nights of camping, and three state parks, Lucky was finally acting tired. We climbed back into the car and headed to our final destination—home.

Want more information about hiking with your dog at Kinnickinnic State Park? Order your copy of A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks now!

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