Monday, July 22, 2013

Northern Dunn County, Wis., day hiking areas often overlooked

Hay Creek State Wildlife Area
Most of Dunn County, Wisconsin, consists of splendid farmland, though the Red Cedar River corridor running south from Chetek through Menomonie to the Chippewa River offers outdoor recreational opportunities. An often overlooked set of hiking areas, however, are four public lands near State Highway 64 just south of the Barron County border:
g Big Beaver Meadow State Natural Area trails – A 0.6-mile round trip jeep trail runs through an intriguing area of wet prairie and sedge meadow in which plants common to northern and to southern Wisconsin mix. The trailhead is located on 280th Street about a half-mile south of 1210th Avenue.
g Bolen Creek State Hunting Grounds trails – If you don't mind bushwhacking a little, you can amble through a typical Wisconsin woodlands here. Park on the side of 1270th Street at the northwest corner of the public lands for a walk to Bolen Creek, a Class II trout stream.
g Hay Creek State Wildlife Area trails – Park in the lot north of the Hwy. 64 and 810th Street junction; a trail heads through woodland to a wetlands as closing on Hay Creek. The waterflow flows west to east through the public land.
g Otter Creek Oak Barrens State Natural Area trails – Bring a topo map for a little bushwhacking through an oak barrens that will impress. The large black oaks are at least 140 years old and may date to the 1810s while the smaller oaks are 70-110 years old. Access it from 1150th Avenue, where it curves north (east of County Road S); take jeep trail that zags about 0.6 miles to the public land's northern edge.

Read more about family friendly day hiking trails in my Headin' to the Cabin guidebooks.