Monday, September 28, 2015

Trails head through Wisconsin oak forest

Fifteen miles of hike-worthy ski trail crisscross the Tower Ridge Recreation
Area. Photo courtesy of Town of Seymour. 
Map of Tower Ridge trails. Click for a larger version.
Day hikers can enjoy a pleasant walk through an oak forest on the Tower Ridge Recreation Area trails near Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

About fifteen miles of cross-country ski trails run across both flat and hilly terrain at the rec area. The largest cross country ski complex in the Chippewa Valley, the trails can be hiked during other seasons.

To reach the rec area, from U.S. Hwy. 53 in Eau Claire, take County Road QQ east. In about five miles, turn left/north onto County Road L then take the next right/southeast into Tower Ridge. Entrance passes are required.

With the vast number of crisscrossing trails, getting lost is surprisingly easy in the small woodlands. You’ll definitely want to bring a map. Fortunately, trail junctions are nicely numbered.

An easy 1-mile loop over flat ground starts at the parking lot’s northeast corner. At junction 10, go right/east.

Follow this to junction 24; once there, go left/north. Continue straight/north at junction 23 then turn right/west at junction 22. Head straight/west at junctions 21, 19 and 20 on the loop’s north side. After junction 20, the trail curves back to junction 10; from there, turn right/south and head into the parking lot.

The forest sits atop a plateau about a 100 feet above the Eau Claire River. A small knoll rises about a hundred feet above the plateau just northwest of the loop.

As cross-country ski trails, all of the rec area paths are wide and open, so you’ll want to don a sunhat or sunscreen.

Learn more about nearby day hiking trails in my Day Hiking Trails of the Chippewa Valley guidebook.