Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Heritage center, trail take hikers back in time

Footbridge over Paperjack Creek.
New Richmond Heritage Center/Paperjack Creek Trail map

One-mile walk combines two parks into one

In the city of New Richmond, hikers can combine a walk near a stream with a loop through a historical village and farm that show what life was like in western Wisconsin decades ago.

The New Richmond Heritage Center and Paperjack Creek Trail combine for a roughly mile-long stroll. All of the pathways and trails are well-maintained.

To reach the trailhead, take Wis. Hwy. 65 into New Richmond. Turn east onto Heritage Drive. When the road curves south, turn left/east into the Heritage Center’s parking lot.

Heritage Center
From the lot, head north to the Heritage Center’s historical farm. The barn, granary and Victorian Italianate farmhouse once were the heart of a working farm that since has been paved with streets and become part of the city. Walking past the windmill, though, you’ll feel like you’ve truly stepped back in time.

Due east of the farm, stop at the Pavilion, whose exhibits include pictures of the June 12, 1899, F5 tornado that leveled New Richmond and killed more than 170 people; it’s still considered the state’s worst tornado. The Pavilion building is modeled after a historic farm machine shed.

From the Pavilion, head south to the Northside House, which was built in 1890 with an addition in 1894. Next to it is a Heritage Church, constructed in 1891.

After the church, walk east then north past the other buildings, which include a 1902 schoolhouse and a general store for countryfolk from 1933. A log barn and a cabin built by immigrants in 1887 round out the heritage center’s 12 structures.

Paperjack Trail
Next, head west along the heritage center’s north side to behind the farm buildings. Look for a break in the woods where a path descends to a footbridge over Paperjack Creek.

The path enters Paperjack Creek Park, which once was pastureland for the farmstead at the Heritage Center. Today, the park preserves the wetlands surrounding the creek, which was named for a man who lived along its banks and sold rags for a living.

Two trails parallel one another in the park. The first one north of the footbridge is mainly for walking while the other is for bicyclists (though it can be walked as well).

Head right/east onto the footpath. It winds through wetlands and grassy areas and sometimes joins the wider bicycle path. Keep heading east at each intersection.

Eventually the footpath ends altogether. Follow the bicycle path to a section of the park with a playground. At the intersection of East Avenue and Bilmar Street, the trail ends. Retrace your steps back to the farmyard, which you can cut across to the parking lot.

Learn more about nearby day hiking trails in my Day Hiking Trails of St. Croix County guidebook.