Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trails explore St. Croix Cnty.’s geography

Willow Falls on the Burkhardt (Pink) Trail east of Hudson.
A number of great day hiking trails explore St. Croix County’s diverse geography.

The west-central Wisconsin county largely can be broken into three distinct geographical areas: the St. Croix Valley, the central plain, and the western uplands.

The western third of the county consists of a thin slice where the St. Croix River runs while the area overlooking it is moderately hilly as creeks drain into it and the tributaries of the Apple, Willow and Kinnickinnic rivers. Collectively is known as the St. Croix Valley, this area actually stretches south into Pierce and north into Polk counties. Willow River State Park near Hudson offers several excellent trails that are representative the river valley, including the Whitetail (Red) Trail, the Burkhardt (Pink) Trail, and the Knapweed (Orange) Trail.

The central and eastern thirds of the county are largely a flat plain with slightly rolling hills. This region once was an outwash plain at the end of a previous ice age. With such little change in elevation, much of it today is prime farmland rather, but there are a few trails here, most notably the Wildwood Trail, a former rail line turned into a bicycling/walking path.

A third area consists of high-relief hills and valleys that mark the northwestern edges of Wisconsin’s western uplands. This hilly terrain is particularly noticeable around Glenwood City, east of Wilson, and north of Spring Valley. A day hike that gives a good sense of this landscape is the Glen Lake East Trail at Glen Hills County Park.

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