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River Safety

As you spend time enjoying the Kinni, please remember safety first. The Kinni has many remote areas that, while beautiful to visit, are not easily accessible by emergency personnel. Please consider the following notes as you enjoy your outing:

  • Understand entry/exit points. The lower Kinni is a canyon with very few access points.

  • Check river levels by using the U.S. Geological Survey water gauge data.

  • Plan sufficient time for your activities. Areas of the river can get dark earlier than expected. Be sure to plan enough time to enjoy your visit during daylight hours.

  • Share your plan for the day with family or friends.

  • Cell phone reception can be difficult in remote areas of the watershed.

  • If canoeing/kayaking, wear a personal flotation device (PFD).

  • Please remember to take out what you brought with you. This includes all garbage and personal items.

City of River Falls, Wisconsin

There are public hiking/walking trails throughout the City of River Falls. Some of these trail systems intersect with The Community Forest Nature Preserve - KRLT.

Kinnickinnic State Park

Another area along the Kinnickinnic River to visit is the Kinnickinnic State Park, where the Kinnickinnic River meets the St. Croix River.

The state park was established in 1972. The park is located at the downstream end of the Kinnickinnic River and includes the delta, where it flows into the St. Croix River. The delta at the mouth of the Kinnickinnic River constricts the St. Croix River to about one-quarter of its normal width. This constriction causes a substantial increase in the amount of current and keeps this area free from ice. Bald eagles fish in this open water during the winter. Large numbers of waterfowl and other migratory birds use the marshy bottomlands during their fall and spring migrations.

River Falls
DNR Properties

Nagel Wildlife Management Area

At the most northwestern point of the Kinnickinnic River Watershed lies the 204-acre Nagel Wildlife Management Area (NWMA). This property, which is now owned and managed by the WDNR, was transferred from the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust; it consists of grassland, prairie, and restored wetland habitat. It is part of the larger Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area (WPHRA) that was established in 1999 to permanently protect and restore 20,000 acres of grassland, wetlands, and oak savannas in Western Wisconsin. The project area includes 350,000 acres within St. Croix and Polk counties. The acreage goal is approximately 10 percent of the historic grassland acreage within the project. Through the generosity in the form of a bargain sale by Vern and Becky Nagel and partnerships with the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited, and the Kinnickinnic, Indianhead, and Racine chapters of Pheasants Forever, the 204 acres were purchased and protected forever.  


The Swinging Gate Public Fishing Access 

53 acres owned and managed by the WDNR. It is a popular Kinnickinnic River access point located north of the City of River Falls off of STH 65. The property was being sold by auction, and KRLT had only a week’s notice. Thanks to the KRLT Conservation Buyer program, the property was purchased by an individual and then sold to KRLT for permanent protection. The funding for the property is thanks to the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), the State Chapter of TU, USDA, and individual donors. WDNR took ownership of the Swinging Gate property in 1999. A gravel parking lot with signage was constructed, and the historic swinging gate was incorporated into the parking lot perimeter.


Fun Fact: The previous landowner, William Lubich, willingly allowed anglers to park and enter his property through a swinging gate in the fence line along STH 65. The landowner used the area as access to farm fields across the river and pastured cattle along the waterway. A sign at the entrance gate read, “Warning Beef Bull in this Field with Cows”.


Quarry Road

The property is upstream of the City of River Falls and neighbors the Swing Gate Public Fishing access. The property had a high risk of becoming a large housing development neighboring the banks of the Kinnickinnic River. Purchased by the KRLT in 2010 from the First National Bank of River Falls and then immediately donated to the WDNR. This 112.8-acre parcel became part of the larger Swinging Gate Fish and Wildlife Area. This restored prairie was protected with the help of Knowles Nelson Stewardship Funding, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Conservation, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Central U.S. Division, and the McNeely Foundation, as well as individual donations, including support from the KRLT Protect the Kinni Campaign. 


Manion Wildlife Area

A 158-acre property south of the Drewiske Family Preserve, the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, in cooperation with the Kinnickinnic Chapter of Pheasants Forever, donated it to the DNR in 2010 to be managed as a state wildlife area. The property is home to beautifully restored grasslands, an oak savanna, central hardwoods, and a stunning view of the lower Kinnickinnic River valley.


To learn more about these locations and other public land in the Kinnickinnic River Watershed, visit the Wisconsin DNR Public Access Lands website.

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