Friday, March 18, 2016

Parks, trails abound in Chippewa Valley

Brunet Island State Park. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.
Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley – loosely defined as Chippewa, Eau Claire, Dunn and Pepin counties –boasts a number of parks and trails ideal for hiking.

Highlighting those attractions are two state parks. Brunet Island State Park covers 1300 acres on the Chippewa River and boasts several quiet lagoons. To the south, Lake Wissota State Park spans over a thousand acres along a reservoir on the Chippewa.

Several minor state public areas as well as county and city parks can be found in the region.

The Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area at more than 3000 acres in size preserves several unique landforms created during the last ice age. Hoffman Hills Recreation Area covers a little more than 700 acres and includes an observation tower at his highest point.

Each of the Chippewa Valley’s three largest cities operate large parks. Chippewa Falls’ Irvine Park includes a zoo, cave and walk along a creek. Eau Claire’s Carson Park offers historical museums and a trail near the Chippewa River. Menomonie’s Wakanda Park sits on Lake Menomin and adjoins a game park with nature trail.

Four lengthy trails crisscross the valley. The Chippewa River State Trail runs 26 miles along its namesake from Durand to the Lake Hallie area north of Eau Claire. The Old Abe State Trail heads 19.5 miles along the Chippewa River from Chippewa Falls to Brunet Island State Park. The Red Cedar State Trail hugs the Red Cedar River for 14.5 miles from Menomonie to northeast of Durand. Each of those three trails were built on old railroad grades. A fourth trail, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, marks the farthest advance of glaciers in the last ice age, and runs for 23 miles in Chippewa County, from north of Stanley to northeast of New Auburn.

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