Beginning with a list of six hiking trails in the Chippewa Valley published a few years ago by Volume One, Rob Reid and his wife, Jayne, have traversed scores of trails in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Step by step, Rob has compiled information on each trail, including its description, difficulty level, fees, and location. Here are some of the easier trails in the Chippewa Valley you may want to check out this fall with your family. For a fully interactive list of local trails – complete with maps and pictures – visit ChippewaValleyFamily.org/hiking.
1. PUTNAM TRAIL
Trail description: Easy. Dirt road goes through a wooded area that follows Little Niagara Creek. Deer and wild turkeys often seen. From campus heading west, the trail follows the Chippewa River.
Directions: From downtown Eau Claire, take South Farwell Street to Putnam Drive and go to the end of the paved road; or take State Street to Roosevelt Road to campus and the parking lot behind the Davies Center.
2. FAIRFAX PARK
Trail description: Easy. Small woods trail that doubles as ski trail goes into small prairie area past a few ponds and re-enters woods.
Directions: Access Fairfax Park Drive from either Golf Road and park in the Fairfax Pool lot, or go down Fairfax Street and park near the ball fields south of South Middle School.
3. HOFFMAN HILLS
Trail description: Challenging elevation changes for some folks but the reward of the lookout tower at the top is worth the climb.
Directions: Located 10 miles northeast of Menomonie. Directions available on their website (dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/hoffmanhills). Plenty of parking available on two paved lots.
4. IRVINE PARK
Trail description: Easy. Woods trails above the zoo area double as ski trails. Loop back down and visit the zoo afterwards. Trails also go past Glen Loch Lake.
Directions: Irvine Park is located in Chippewa Falls off Highway 124. Trails can also be accessed from small parking lot on County Road S or on the parking lot above the zoo off Ermatinger Drive.
5. LAKE WISSOTA STATE PARK
Trail descriptions: Easy. Several trail options go through woods and meadows. Many double as ski trails. One-mile Beaver Meadow nature trail loop for families with small children. Scenic lake trail is also a highlight.
Fee: Yes. Daily and annual state park vehicle admission passes vary in price. for details, visit the park’s website at dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/lakewissota.
Directions: Located on the northeast section of Lake Wissota. Directions available on website. Ample parking at several spots throughout the park.
6. BJORNSEN RECREATION CENTER
Trail description: Easy. Trail loop options through woods with creeks and several footbridges as well.
Directions: From Interstate 94 take the Highway Q exit and drive north to 700 Avenue. Turn right and head to 160th Street. Look for signs. You might have to park at the gate and walk to the center. Otherwise, there is ample parking at the center.
7. MENOMONIE LIONS GAME PARK
Trail description: Easy. Very short trail starts near animal exhibits and features a little boardwalk. Fun stroll for families with little kids.
Directions: From Interstate 94 head south on North Broadway Street, turn left on Pine Avenue East to Game Park Road. Plenty of parking spaces on paved lot.
8. LAKE MENOMIN PARK
Trail description: Easy. Walk through the woods, emerge next to Lake Menomin, and then through meadow before re-entering woods.
Directions: From Interstate 94, head south on County Highway B, turn right at 3M Drive, turn left at Stokke Parkway, turn right at Red Cedar Street/Domain Drive.
9. BEAVER CREEK RESERVE
Trail description: Moderate. There are several trail loop options. Scenic, winding trails on two separate sections of the reserve, offer views of two creeks and the Eau Claire River. One of our favorites in the area.
Fee: $% for adults, $3 for children (15 and under, no charge for children under 2), free for Beaver Creek members.
Directions: Located north of Fall Creek on County Road K. Park near the Nature Center by the south trails to pay.
10. EVERGREEN SKI TRAIL
Trail description: Easy to moderate. About 2.2 miles of trail loops are open for hikers in the spring, summer, and fall. The westernmost trail follows Coon Fork Creek.
Directions: Located 5 miles north of Augusta on County Highway CF (across the road from Coon Forks County Park). Park at a small dirt lot.