Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Variety of trails found in Chippewa Valley

Lake Wissota from Lake Trail in Lake Wissota State Park.
Imagine a place where you can walk beneath rare giant conifers and over nearly 2 billion-years-old rock, where you can traipse the scenic routes of old railroad lines along majestic rivers that feed the Mississippi, where you can whistle as passing rustic trout streams and turtle ponds or pause in reverent silence by ancient effigy mounds.

The place is real: It’s called the Chippewa Valley.

Located along the Chippewa River in west-central Wisconsin, the valley is an outdoor recreational paradise. Cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers zip across trails while ice fisherman dot frozen lakes each winter. Those longing to see colorful leaves and to pick fresh apples drive along its winding river valleys come autumn. And every summer, hikers and bicyclists alike explore its many woodlands, historic sites, and geological wonders.

Though the Chippewa River stretches 183 miles across Wisconsin, the Chippewa Valley refers to the lower Chippewa River area. Originally the term “Chippewa Valley” referred to the Chippewa River watershed but in the public’s eye soon came to more narrowly mean the Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls metro area. As the nearby communities of Menomonie and Durand grew increasingly intertwined economically with that metro area, the term has broadened to include them, which better encompasses but still offers an incomplete overlay of the Chippewa River watershed. Today, the Chippewa Valley includes all of Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Dunn counties and eastern Pepin County.

Seven great Chippewa Valley trails to hike include:
Jean Brunet Nature Trail
Big Falls Trail
Chippewa River State Trail (Pepin County)
Red Cedar State Trail
Elk Creek Fishery Trail
Interior Loop
Lake Trail

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