Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trail follows ridgeline overlooking creek

Lowes Creek County Park includes about 18 miles of multi-purpose trails.
Photo courtesy County of Eau Claire.
Lowes Creek County Park trails map,
courtesy of Chippewa Off Road Bike Association.
Day hikers can enjoy a forested walk overlooking a popular trout stream in west-central Wisconsin.

The Ridgeline Trail and the paths leading to it runs 1.22-miles round trip at Lowes Creek County Park south of Eau Claire. About 18 miles of multi-purpose trails - frequented by hikers, runners and off-road bicyclists - can be found in the park, which hugs the creek’s course.

To reach the trailhead, from Eau Claire, take Wis. Hwy. 93 south. At Golf Road, turn right/west. In 1.5 miles, turn left/south into S. Lowes Creek Road. The park entrance is in another 1.5 miles; go left/east onto Palomino Road. A parking lot, is at the road's end. An entrance fee is required.

From the parking lot’s northwest side, take the wide trail heading straight north (Two other trails go east.). At the first trail junction, in 0.1 miles, turn right/east, crossing a footbridge over Lowes Creek.

Flowing out of the slope between the Chippewa and Buffalo river valleys to the south, Lowes Creek is a Class II trout stream that eventually makes it way into the Chippewa. Native brook trout can be found between the mouth of Clary Creek north to the Chippewa, but the stream is restocked with brown trout for sports fishing.

At the next trail junction, in 0.08 miles, go right/southeast. You’ll parallel the creek for about 0.25 miles, passing the junction with the Onion Trail, and at last reach the Ridgeline Trail. Go right/south on the Ridgeline, which overlooks the creek about 50 feet below.

While much of the upland surrounding Lowe Creek consists of pine forests, the moist soil along the creek bed yields other trees, including birch, making this a nice trail to see harvest colors in autumn.

Follow the Ridgeline Trail for 0.18 miles until it intersects the Nemesis and Skull trails. This marks a good spot to turn back.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.