Cascade Falls

June 2005

State: Wisconsin

Location: Osceola, Polk County

Height: 25

Crest: 30

Water Source: Osceola Creek

Waypoint: 45.32056N 92.70472W

Summary: This pretty waterfall is located along Route 35 in the middle of the village of Osceola along the St. Croix River. It is easy to visit, and close to many other scenic sights. Definitely worth a visit.

Cascade Falls is located in the small village of Osceola along the St. Croix River. It is a familiar story: the much larger St. Croix has carved out a deep gorge into which the much smaller Osceola Creek falls. A set of stairs located right off the main road into Osceola leads you down into the gorge and to the base of the falls. The trail continues to the shores of the St. Croix. The Osceola Creek drops 100 feet between town and the river, but this is the only big drop.

The falls were the reason for the founding of the village. They once supported a mill, and a brewery. Some ruins of the old industry remain above the falls. There is also a second small falls where an even smaller creek falls into the Osceola just above the main falls. This is called Geiger Falls and was named for the brewer.

Here is a short movie of the falls.

Just south of the falls is the Osceola Bluff, which rises over 100 feet above the St. Croix river. You can hike to the top of it. Nice views of it can be had from the Minnesota side of the river.

The St. Croix river has cut a deep gorge. A lot of the work was done at the end of the last Ice Age when the glacial lakes drained south, carving out the river valleys. Is is a bit surprising that there are not more, or taller waterfalls here or nearby, given how much work a smaller stream would have to do to catch up. If you want to get an idea of the erosive power the St. Croix once had drive ten miles north to St. Croix Falls and check out Interstate State Park. Unfortunately the falls on the main river have been dammed, but the gorge carved through the basalt is spectacular.

Nearby Falls

Willow Falls is 25 miles to the south. Vermillion Falls is another 30 miles past that. Minnehaha Falls is 50 miles to the southwest. Like Cascade Falls, these are all the result of smaller rivers or creeks falling into the gorges of the much larger Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Big Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park is 2.5 hours to the north.

Photo Gallery

Geiger Falls

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