Inspiration Point (Whitewater State Park, MN)
The Saturday that we spent in Minnesota was full of fun and games. We started the day off with bacon and eggs (what better way to start a day than that?), then made a visit to the Rochester farmer’s market, which is awesome for us local food lovers.
After that, Eric and Kat led us to a great day hike of Inspiration Point at Whitewater State Park and up the Mighty Mississippi to Lake Pepin, the widest point of the Mississippi River.
Nearest City/Town: Rochester, MN
Length: ~2.5 miles
Elevation: ~200 ft
Time: 1-2 hours
Inspiration Point Hike
The hike to Inspiration Point is mostly flat, with a single area that covers most of your elevation gain. Luckily, this area that would be up a rather steep slope is up a long set of stairs. Before and after this section, the hike is relatively flat all the way out to the Point.
You’ll start out from the parking lot by crossing a bridge over the creek, then heading left past the first trail leading up the bluffs to the second trail (maybe 1/4 of a mile from the parking lot). Here, you’ll see that long set of steps. Go up! Once you get up the steps, you’ll come to Chimney Rock, a cool rock formation with a hole right through the middle. The smaller and more intrepid explorers can actually crawl through the hole to get a great view of the forested valley floor and the beach below.
From there, you’ll follow the mainly flat trail all the way out to Inspiration Point. If you’re as lucky as we were, you’ll see an eagle soaring overhead. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a good shot of him to share with you.
After you walk out on the outcropping known as Inspiration Point (watch your step…it’s a long way down!), it’s time to round out the hike. You can either go back the way you came or take a trail off to the right. It’ll take you down a steep set of steps to the flat Dakota Trail and back to the parking lot.
All in all, it’s a great hike with beautiful views of the surrounding area. The part of the trail that runs to Chimney Rock and the immediate area is a heavily used trail, so you’re unlikely to have it to yourself during the warm months. Once you continue on to Inspiration Point and back around though, you won’t encounter many people and should be able to find plenty of peace and quiet.
Whitewater State Park is located on MN-74, about 30 miles from Rochester, MN (or about 120 miles from Minneapolis, MN). Getting there takes you through the beautiful rolling hills and farmland of southern Minnesota. For this hike, park as if you were going to do the Chimney Rock hike.
We didn’t snap a ton of pictures on this hike, but we think that just the few we have capture the beauty of the area just nicely.