Friday, February 19, 2016

Western Wisconsin trail follows lakeshore

Coon Fork Lake, courtesy of
Trail is dotted orange. Map courtesy of Eau Claire County
Parks and Forests.
Day hikers can enjoy a wooded trail along a scenic lake in Wisconsin’s Coon Fork County Park.

The 2.6-miles round trip Coon Fork Lake Trail hugs the shoreline of picturesque Coon Fork Lake in southeastern Eau Claire County. A number of mountain bike trails and more than three miles of ski trails also can be found in the park.

To reach the trail, from Augusta, take U.S. Hwy 12 south. Turn left/northeast onto County Road CF. After crossing Coon Fork Creek, go left/north onto Horse Creek Road. The dirt lot is immediately on the left/west. Carefully cross County CF and pick up the hiking trail as it heads south.

From there, the trail passes the east side of the dike that backs up Coon Creek to form Coon Fork Lake. Built in 1963, the dam is 20 feet high. The county park was created the year after the dam went into operation.

Beyond the dam, the trail then slips between lake and Campground D and passes a boat landing. The looping campground is the newest one at the park.

The wooded trail parallels the lake’s edge the rest of the way, offering several tree-framed vistas. Coon Fork Lake covers 62 acres. Musky, largemouth bass and panfish all are plentiful in the lake. At the southeast side of the lake, the trail crosses a small beach on it.

Songbirds are ubiquitous on the trail. You’re also likely see whitetail deer or at least signs of them such as their prints. Racoons and even porcupines also have been spotted on the route.

When the trail curves east, the lake significantly narrows and becomes Black Creek. Upon reaching the mountain bike trail at junction 28, the hiking trail ends, marking a good spot to turn back.

If a dog owner, the county park trail is a good spot. Pets are allowed here on leashes of up to eight feet.

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