Saint Paul’s Slot Canyon (Minnesota) 09-Jan-2023

Sure, we’ve hiked slot canyons in Arizona, Utah, California, New Mexico, and Nevada. But in the Midwest? No way. So when Pinterest coughed-up the location of possibly the only slot canyon in Saint Paul, we had to see it for ourselves. That it might now be festooned with a waterfall of ice only added to its allure.

This slot canyon is supposed to be a secret but thanks to the Internet, it’s not. Even Pinterest offered us its GPS coordinates (along with two recipes and a fashion hint). It’s located off a social trail about half way along the northwest side of Lake Crosby in Saint Paul’s Crosby Farm Regional Park (Hike #4 in our 60 Hikes guide).

We figured this slot was so popular the best (least crowded) time to visit would be on a weekday morning. And we also figured there would be a well stomped path right to it, so there would be no need for snowshoes. Right on all counts!

From the parking lot, we followed the main trail for a short bit, then jogged left on to a well packed social trail along the base of the bluff. Then it was a straight shot out to the slot canyon – the mouth of which was obvious and well trodden.

On the social trail on the northwest side of Crosby Lake
On the social trail on the northwest side of Lake Crosby
The unassuming mouth of the slot canyon
The LovedOne goes first
Packed with slippery snow and ice
The frozen waterfall at the back of the slot canyon, Crosby Farm Regional Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota
The 30 foot (9 m) waterfall at the back of the slot

As slots go, this one is pretty short. It’s likely deeper – and maybe has a little narrower entrance – in summer when it’s floor is not elevated by layers of snow and ice. The frozen waterfall probably assumes any number of shapes and sizes depending on water flow and weather conditions.

Today it featured a lower fan of what The LovedOne said looked like frozen moon jellyfish. The drop above that reminded me of jellyfish tentacles. This is one of the more unique frozen features we’ve seen lately.

The frozen waterfall at the back of the slot canyon, Crosby Farm Regional Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota
The pile of ice moon jellyfish at the base of the frozen waterfall
The frozen waterfall at the back of the slot canyon, Crosby Farm Regional Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota
A cascade of ice jellyfish
Ice jellyfish I
Ice jellyfish II
Ice jellyfish III
The frozen waterfall at the back of the slot canyon, Crosby Farm Regional Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Upper part of the frozen waterfall

We were gazing at these ice features when a woman joined us in the alcove. She said: “I’ve lived here my whole life but this is my first visit here. It’s really interesting.” We started to leave so she’d have an unobstructed view. But, before we could do so, she spun around and scrambled back out through the slot. Thirty seconds total. ๐Ÿ™„ Well, at least she saw it. We soon followed her out.

Exiting the slot
The icy ramp was best negotiated sitting down
This part may be narrower when the snow melts and the floor drops

It was still sunny when we exited the slot, so we said why not continue on around Lake Crosby? We followed the social trail to the parking lot at Elway and Shepard, then took the wide Crosby Farm Trail back to the main parking lot.

Continuing on the social trail
High, wispy clouds kept trying to block the sun
Open water on Lake Crosby
Ice, hoarfrost stars, and water
More clouds
Going back along the southeast side of Lake Crosby
Snow covered Crosby Lake, Minnesota
Lake Crosby
The sun escaped the clouds
And back to the main parking lot

There were all kinds of boot, ski, and snowshoe tracks everywhere, so this place must have been real busy over the weekend. But, aside from the woman in the alcove, we saw only two people with dogs entering the slot as we were leaving and about a half dozen folks on the main path going back. So, good timing, crowd-wise, on our part. And there was sunshine during our visit ๐Ÿ˜Ž – which wouldn’t have been true later in the day.

Our loop came to just 3.1 miles (4.9 km). An easy walk to a truly unique feature in Saint Paul. A fun for the whole family kind of hike. Clearly not Minnehaha Falls, but well worth a visit regardless. The waterfall at the back of the slot will likely be constantly changing (and probably disappearing at times), so each visit will be unique. ๐Ÿ˜

Our path to the slot canyon (S) and on around Crosby Lake

8 thoughts on “Saint Paul’s Slot Canyon (Minnesota) 09-Jan-2023

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  1. This location is apparently one of the most widely known”secrets” in the Twin Cities. But it was a unique place to visit and we loved that waterfall of frozen jellyfish! ๐Ÿ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They do look like jellyfish. But maybe now that we live 1,000+ miles from the nearest ocean, a lot of things will start looking like sea creatures. ๐Ÿ™„


  3. I guess the woman in the alcove had a fast shutter speed on her eyes and only needed a brief exposure. (maybe her pupils were dilated i.e. her lens was wide open).
    Those ice formations were great, I wonder if they would have been half as interesting without the comparison to sea creatures.


  4. I didnโ€™t know this place existed. Thanks for including your map! The frozen waterfall does look like moon jelly fish.


  5. We certainly didn’t. I guess you could speculate that there might be deep clefts in the sandstone bluffs but finding those notches might be hard. Or involve lots of ticks and poison ivy. ๐Ÿ˜ข This one was fun because it was easy to find. We’ve seen a lot of waterfalls, frozen and otherwise, but those jellyfish ice were unique.


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