Hiking in Rum River North County Park

St. Francis/Anoka County • No vehicle permit needed

birch trees along the Rum River in Rum River North County Park
The Rum River, a nice variety of mature hardwoods and some hills make Rum River North a nice hiking spot if you live in the area

Rum River North County Park in St. Francis has both paved and natural-surface hiking trails with lovely views along the river.

Since neither the Park’s page on the website nor the PDF map lists distance, I relied on my pedometer to tell me how far I hiked. I parked at the south parking lot where the canoe and kayak access is.

My route took me first south toward Highway 24, then up the hill and around the loop past the next parking area, then followed the river east and north and around the northern-most loop by the canoe campsites and back. It was approximately 2.5 miles.

(Park folks, please mark distances on your maps! I’m surprised how many parks don’t do this—both online and onsite.)

Dirt hiking trail Rum River North County Park, fallen leaves in early spring
The north loop of in the park is natural-surface with great views of the river

What’s Great about Rum River North

Rum River North is in the heart of the community of St. Francis, right across County Rd 72 from the high school. So while it’s in the far reaches of the 7-county Twin Cities metro, it’s not in the boonies.

This is an 80-acre pocket of mature hardwood forest alongside the Rum River. A few hills and lots of twists and turns make the trail interesting. And there are several short spurs that lead to wooden overlooks of the river, both along the bank and up higher on hills.

(Looks like one is intended as a fishing pier, according to the map.)

On this hike, being early April, the river was very high and moving fast:

A flooded Rum River in early spring
A fast-moving and slightly flooded Rum River this first week of April

Also being April, the leaves weren’t out on the trees yet, so there were great views of the river all along the trail. Because its’ so wooded, these views will be obscured once the leaves are out.

There are picnic tables all over the place in the park, as well as a couple small picnic shelters.

There’s actually more natural-surface trail than the map labels. Much of the loop up by the canoe campsites are natural surface. That also means it was muddy! So if the weather’s been wet, mind your footwear.

A muddy trail along the river in early spring
Still some snow here and there and plenty of mud on this section of the trail!

What’s So-So about Rum River North

The trails are nice, but it’s a short network. So if 2-3 miles is your go-to length, this is very pretty and has some hills. But for runners and anyone wanting longer length or more to choose from, this isn’t the park for you.

As I said above, this park is right in the heart of St. Frances. There’s traffic noise, especially if you happen to be hiking when the high school gets out for the afternoon as I was (unintentionally!).

There are a lot of homes on the west bank of the Rum, as well as along the northern border of the park. A beautiful place to live, but not so nice to hike if you’re looking to get out of town and away from traffic.

Unless you live in the area, this is more of a paddling destination than a hiking one.

fishing pier on the Rum River
Short spur trail to a small fishing pier on the river

What Else is There to Do There?

Paddling and canoe or kayak camping is popular here. This would be the place to launch if you want to head downriver to either Rum River Central or Rum River South Parks. Or you can launch further upriver in Isanti and come out here.

Click here for details about the Rum River State Water Trail.

As mentioned, picnic tables are abundant. There’s a playground in the park, too.

How to Get There

Rum River North County Park is at 23100 Rum River Blvd NW in St. Francis.

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Sharon Brodin
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