Monday, June 6, 2016

City of Eau Claire offers array of great trails

Putnam Park. Photo courtesy of UWEC.
At one time the world’s lumber capital, the west-central Wisconsin city of Eau Claire recently has undertaken an effort to make it a trail-friendly community.

Located about 90 minutes east of Minneapolis-St. Paul and four hours north of Madison, the city of Eau Claire offers a number of excellent day hiking opportunities, whether you be a resident or a visitor.

Among them:
Chippewa River State Trail segment – Though most of the Chippewa River State Trail runs through rural areas, its most used portion sits in the middle of Eau Claire. A 3.7-mile round trip segment of the trail links the Historic Water Street District to beautiful Phoenix Park. Leave your vehicle at the 10th Avenue trailhead lot.
City Wells Area Trail – A 3-mile looping cross-country ski trail in the City Wells area can be day hiked the other seasons. Start the loop off of Riverview Drive near the southeast corner of Riverfront Park.
Eau Claire River Route – Walkers can walk across a unique S-shaped bridge on 0.6-mile round trip urban trail that leads to the Banbury Park area. Park at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library then cross South Dewey Street, heading east onto the paved trail.
Fairfax Park walking paths – About 1.17 miles of walking paths (turned cross-country ski trail in winter) run around two ponds and through a small woods at Fairfax Park. Leave your vehicle in the parking lot for the outdoor pool then cross Fairfax Park Drive for the trailhead in the wooded area.
Fairway Trail – The 1.4-miles round trip linking Boyd and Archery parks, running between Fairway Street (on its south) and the Eau Claire River (on its north).
Lakeshore Trail – The Carson Park trail runs about a mile one-way. A side trail of the Chippewa River State Trail, it’s less of a wilderness route than an urban walking path. Use the parking lot next to the park’s baseball stadium.
Pinehurst Park trails – Nearly a mile of hilly trails (used as a cross-country ski trails in winter) sit in the park on the city’s north side. Leave your vehicle in the parking lot off Delbert Road between Eastlawn and Oakland streets.
Putnam Park State Natural Area trails – Several undesignated trails runs through the 230-acre natural area owned and maintained by the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. The western section sits on the Chippewa River; access it from campus parking lot #4, following the interpretive trail. The much larger eastern section is largely centered on Little Niagara Creek; access it by walking alongside Putnam Drive, which starts across from campus parking lot #14.
Sherman Creek Park walking paths – Foothpaths run alongside and cross Sherman Creek in the 30-acre wooded park located just east of Eau Claire in Union Township. Enter the trail off of West Vine Street between Deblene and Redwood lanes.

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