Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Great day hikes abound in Menomonie area

Scene alongside the Red Cedar Trail.
River views, an observation tower, and large North American fauna await day hikers in the western Wisconsin city of Menomonie.

The city – whose name is derived from the local Native American word for “wild rice people” – is centered on Lake Menomin, a former marshy area along the now dammed Red Cedar River. Interstate 94 cuts across its north side and U.S. Hwy. 12 through its center and southeast side.

Among the many great day trails in and near town are:
Caddie Woodlawn Historical Park walking paths – The pioneer homestead home of the girl who inspired the 1935 Newbery Medal for children’s literature is preserved off of Wis. Hwy. 25 about nine miles south of Menomonie. No formal paths exist, but there’s plenty of space to walk about between a log cabin to a more modern farmhouse.
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area trails – Several trails run through the state-protected woodlands, including one around two ponds and another to an observation tower. The 705-acre park is off of 740th Street north of County Road E northeast of Menomonie.
Menomin Mountain Bike Park – Five miles of mountain biking trails and several walking paths head through woods and fields and over water and hillsides; some of them follow Lake Menomin’s east shore. Access the park from a lot at the end of a dirt road off of Domain Drive west of Stokke Parkway.
Junction Trail – The former rail line turned hiking trail runs between the city library and Oak Avenue on the north side of town. Park along Oak Avenue east of North Broadway.
Lion’s Club Game Trail – At Wakanda Park, a half-mile nature walk heads past bison, elk and reindeer. Parking is along Game Park Drive north of Pine Avenue.
Menomonie Dog Park trails – Dog owners can take Rex and Queenie on a variety of walking trails at the 11-acre park off of Brickyard Road north of Wis. Hwy. 29. Dogs must have license and a dog park tag (the latter is available at a park kiosk near the entrance).
Red Cedar Trail – The former rail line runs 14 miles along the Red Cedar River to the confluence with the Chippewa River. With a limestone surface and fairly flat grade, the easy-to-hike trail offers great views of the two rivers, wooded bluffs, high rock walls, and plenty of wildlife including bald eagles. In Menomonie, park at the Depot Visitor Info Center off of Wis. Hwy. 29 immediately west of the Red Cedar bridge.
Stokke Trail – The mile-long trail heads alongside a cascades-filled section of the Red Cedar River between Riverside Park off of Wis. Hwy. 29 (where there’s parking) and Second Street NW near the dam that holds back the river to form Lake Menomin.

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