5 "GET OUTSIDE & HIKE" SPOTS ALONG THE WISCONSIN GREAT RIVER ROAD
It’s the time of year we all need to GET OUTSIDE! No better place to do that than on the West Coast of Wisconsin! The beautiful Lake Pepin area is perfect for a day trip or weekend outdoor adventure. You can fish, you can kayak, you can hike! We love the 5 local Get Outdoors and Hike options, along with a few other nearby awesome spots along or near the Great River Road on the West Coast of Wisconsin you will find:
1. Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area
Just outside of Stockholm Wisconsin, about 3 miles up County J, you will find this State Natural Area. The Area is the home of several rare animal and plant species, including nesting peregrine falcons, golden and bald eagles, and 250-year-old red cedars. The approx. 2-mile trail takes you through ancient the cedars, native prairie and to one of the most iconic views on the whole of the Mississippi. Sunsets here are breathtaking and beyond compare. You can find out more information at:
Photo Credit: Emily Burton
2. Tiffany Bottoms Wildlife Area
Down River from Pepin WI is one of the most important, biodiverse wildlife areas in the country. Tiffany Bottoms State Natural Area is a small portion of the most extensive river delta in the Midwest and contains 13000 acres of the larger Tiffany Bottoms floodplain forest. The site captures the transition between a typical floodplain forest of silver maple, river birch, ashes, and basswood in the southern portion and the more oak dominated forest in the northern part. One of the more unique ways to explore this area, although not a hike, is the Tiffany Bottoms Train Ride which follows an old railbed through the Tiffany Bottoms. You can learn more about the train here at http://chippewavalleymotorcarassociation.ellawisc.com/.
Do be aware that trails throughout the wildlife area are not marked and can be flooded at times. Bring bug Spray. For more information about the Wildlife Area, you can go to https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=30.
3. Five Mile Bluff State Natural Area
The Natural Area is technically a part of the greater Tiffany Bottoms Area, but on the west side of the grand Chippewa River. A trail takes you through a diverse and fragile ecosystem that gets you close to floodplain forests, wild grasses, and oak barrens. The trail runs about 3-miles total. From a parking lot at the end of 16th Creek Road, the trail heads north at the base of Five Mile Bluff then loops to and over its top, which is more than 300 feet above the river. Information can be found at:
4. Swede Ramble Trail
Also part of the Tiffany Bottoms Wildlife area, the trail can be found on the west side of the Chippewa River. The trail is about 4-miles one-way through a meadow and the bottomland hardwood forest. Start at the parking lot off Swede Ramble Lane southeast of Little Plum Creek and end at another lot off of Tulip Lane east of Big Hill Road. A bit more info can be found here: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/documents/tiffany.pdf.
5. Thrive! Center and Thrive! Park
Thrive! Park, a public park, of the Village of Nelson. The Park is unique in that it consists of over 25 acres of Mississippi River bluff top and bluff side. The primary bluff is the Sisters and Lost Brother. The three southernmost bluff tops are in the Park and accessible via hiking roads and trails.
On the bluff tops and bluff sides are “goat prairies” that have recently been cleared as part of a larger prairie restoration effort around Nelson. Thrive! Park is east of Highway 35 in Nelson (WI). Take Cleveland Street toward bluffs. As you enter woods, turn left on Christopherson Road. Just after turn, there is a parking lot on right to park. Park entrance and road/trail markings are just left of parking lot. There is also parking up the paved road below the Fish Pond. Free maps are generally available at the park entrance. More information about the Center and trail can be found at http://www.thrivepark.org/.
Nearby and worth the drive
Nine Mile Island State Natural Area. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=236.
Holden Park Trails: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=236.
Chippewa River State Bike Trail: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/chipriver.