Hello all and Happy Spring! As I type this, I can look outside and see the maples and lilac bushes budding out, and yesterday I saw my first open Trillium of the year! I can’t say for certain that spring in Wisconsin is my favorite time of the year, but it’s VERY close if it isn’t. With spring and nice weather comes outdoor activities. You’ve waiting all winter long – cooped up with nothing but the Tiger King to keep you entertained. Now, it’s hiking season. My wife and I are big hikers and we like to take advantage of some of the local places to go for anything from a short stroll to a half day hike! Most folks know about the bike paths and more popular places to hike in the Chippewa Valley, but I figured I’d give you guys a list of hidden treasures where you can beat the crowds and enjoy some fantastic hiking that maybe you haven’t heard about or been before! Enjoy some peace and natural beauty at these great hikes in our local area!
- Wissota State Park Hiking Trails. These trails are beautiful, relatively flat, and extensive. In college, I used to go do longer runs on these trails and could easily complete a 10 mile run on these well maintained paths. There are seven miles of hiking and biking trails, the one mile Beaver Meadow Nature Trail, nine miles of horse/bike trails, and snowshoe and cross country ski trails as well. Most of the trails are wooded, but there are a few prairie hikes and nice lake views. If you’re looking to do a longer hike or trail run, I recommend these trails! Here are directions to the Wissota Park Trails: https://goo.gl/maps/b4VvKjmGojYnWfVQ7.
- Keil Birch Creek Preserve in Menomonie, WI. The Keil Birch Creek Preserve is certainly going to be one of the more “under the radar” trail networks on this list. It’s an old-growth forest with about 1.5 miles of trails on the southside of Menomonie. It borders the east side of the Red Cedar River, and there is a beautiful trail that goes down to the confluence of Birch Creek and the Red Cedar. There are scenic sandstone dells that tower above the creek, and mature woods for viewing wildlife. This is a great short hike to take your kids to, especially if you don’t mind them playing in the creek! Here are the directions to Keil Birch Creek Preserve: https://goo.gl/maps/3NyHEnfQ6gD4JQwq5.
- The Coon Fork Ski Trails! This 3.2 mile course follows the picturesque Coon Fork Creek and meanders through beautiful timber. The trails are wide and easy to walk and traverse. The creek itself is the highlight of the trails. It pours over large boulders, and is bordered by gigantic white pines. It’s a great trail to walk and have a picnic with the family. You could also take a fishing pole and fish both the creek and Coon Fork Lake. Here are the directions to Cook Fork Park (the trails are on the north side of County Rd CF): https://goo.gl/maps/aqKnhhV7d77hNXwB9.
- The Devil’s Punch Bowl. This natural area is truly a sight to behold. While this is not a hiking destination per say, it is a great place to go and bask in the glory and beauty of nature. This rock formation, that is now in the general shape of a bowl, was carved out by water over thousands of years. One neat thing about the Devil’s Punch Bowl is that is lies just a short distance below Paradise Valley Road, but is not at all visible from the road. It’s a secret little treasure that has to be explored off road to be truly enjoyed. In the winter it’s also stunning due to the layers of icicles that drape the 360 degrees of the Punch Bowl. This is a great add on to a hike on the Red Cedar State Trail or a little detour from Hoffman Hills. I highly recommend stopping at Lucette Brewing Company on the way out, they serve great craft beer and pizza and are located just a couple miles down the road! Here are the directions to the Devil’s Punch Bowl: https://goo.gl/maps/oCquoVT698EhYEnX7.
- The Tower Ridge Ski Trails. These trails are pretty well known for cross country skiing, but they’re also great for a summer hike or run! There are about 12 miles of trails in total. These trails can be challenging, with steep inclines and declines. If you’re looking for a hard trail run, or practice for cross country running, this is the trail system for you. These trails are also just a short drive from Eau Claire, so the location is ideal for a run or walk after work! Here are the directions to Tower Ridge: https://goo.gl/maps/MJgfrQJiKJCiS5uR9.
We are fortunate to live in an area that provides so many opportunities to get out and ENJOY the outdoors and now is just the time to take advantage of them. The grass is short, the temperatures are mild, the sun is not too hot, and it gives your partner the opportunity to check you for wood ticks! If you’re thinking of making the Chippewa Valley your home or are looking for a Realtor that’s intimately familiar with the Chippewa Valley area, please reach out to me. I’m always looking forward to the opportunity to help!
Until next time… enjoy the great spring weather!
~ Tim Nelson | RE/MAX Affiliates | 715-529-0239