Tuesday, May. 1st, 2018

4 Local Sunrise Spots That'll Take Your Breath Away

MOUNT SIMON PARK • IMAGE: SHANE NEWMAN
MOUNT SIMON PARK • IMAGE: SHANE NEWMAN

Rise and shine, folks!  The Valley is packed with adventures, and you’ll want to start yours early with something beautiful and easy to catch. You know what they say, the early bird gets an incredible view of the sunrise.

I promise you won’t miss the sleep! Over the summer, the sun awakens just before 5:30am, with the sunrise getting closer to 6:30am by the end of August. Set your alarm and treat yourself to a stunning view from one of these local spots.

1. Mount Simon Park

It’s no surprise one of Eau Claire’s highest peaks has a spectacular sunrise! This one stretches across the sky with its striking colors reflecting off the lake. While there are plenty of places to soak it all in, you’ll want to head right down by the boat landing. Planning to stay for a while? Take a seat at the bench nearby.

2. County Farm Park

Tucked away on the west side of Eau Claire is this lovely neighborhood park, overlooking Dove Healthcare, May’s Floral Garden, and Nestle. After you enjoy a spin on the merry-go-round, hit up the trails where wildflowers greet you, and the sun rises in the distance, creating a scene that is mesmerizing.

COUNTY FARM PARK • IMAGE: TINA ECKER
COUNTY FARM PARK • IMAGE: TINA ECKER

3. The Boat Landing Across from the View by Lake Wissota

To catch the first rays of the morning sun peeking over The View on Lake Wissota outside Chippewa Falls, you’ll want to hang out on the boat landing across from the restaurant. Experience all the magic as the sun casts its beams in every direction, touching the trees and reflecting off the water. Mother Nature truly is the finest artist.

4. Wissota Dam

This hidden gem in Chippewa Falls has got an epic view of scenic bliss. To get there, drive down the gravel road toward Rod and Gun. You’ll see a fence directly in front of you with some space for parking on the right. Park yourself, walk around the fence, and take the gravel road all the way to the Wissota Dam. The bike trail on your left will lead to a wooden bench and plenty of tree stumps for seating. Nothing beats the sunrise and solitude of the early morning hour.

You’ll want to catch that glowing orb as it emerges from its slumber and puts on a remarkable show for all of the Valley to see. Don’t forget your cup of Joe and start your adventure early!

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Monday, Sep. 19th, 2016

GOODBYE, GAP: Federal funds will complete missing Old Abe Trail miles

PEDAL PUSHER. Users of the Chippewa River Trail, shown above, will be able to bike all the way to Chippewa Falls – and beyond – when the final gap in the adjacent Old Abe State Trail is completed as early as 2018.
PEDAL PUSHER. Users of the Chippewa River Trail, shown above, will be able to bike all the way to Chippewa Falls – and beyond – when the final gap in the adjacent Old Abe State Trail is completed as early as 2018.

Even though the Chippewa Valley has become increasingly friendly for bicyclists in recent years, there’s still something missing – literally: There’s a 2.4-mile gap in what otherwise would be a continuous trail system connecting Menomonie, Durand, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Cornell, and points between. The gap in the Old Abe State Trail between Lake Hallie and Chippewa Falls has forced bikers to find alternate methods of traveling between where the trail ends abruptly at 40th Avenue near the “tank farm” in Lake Hallie and begins again at the Highway 124 bridge across the river from downtown Chippewa Falls.

Soon, thanks to a federal grant, the two ends of the trail will be connected. The West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission announced Sept. 2 that $508,000 from the federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) would go toward a joint effort by the Village of Lake Hallie and the City of Chippewa Falls to build the missing segment. The grant will cover 80 percent of the cost of the project, the remaining 20 percent of which (about $127,000) will be shared by the two municipalities. The funding is expected to come in 2018, so you still have time to train for 80 miles of continuous pedaling.

Jeremy Gragert, northwest ambassador for the Wisconsin Bike Federation, is among those praising the news. He points out that this will be the first time since the original bike boom of the 1890s that Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire will be linked by such a trail. “Communities connected by this corridor see it as a great benefit for tourism, transportation access, the environment, quality of life, and economic development, and I agree,” he said. “We are in the midst of a new bike boom, but we need to work even harder as advocates to assure it is here to stay, and we all need to get our butts on bikes even more to continue the momentum.”

According to Jason Duba, assistant transportation planner with the regional planning commission, the funds will cover design, state review, and construction of the trail. The City of Chippewa Falls already owns the right-of-way for the segment I the city limits, while the portion in Lake Hallie is owned by Xcel Energy, which will allow of its right-of-way at no expense.

Back in 2010, the City of Chippewa Falls had received a $688,000 TAP grant to finish the trail connection. However, the state Department of Transportation rescinded the grant four years later because the money hadn’t yet been spent. (A potential frac-sand facility had caused a planning delay.) After that, the regional planning commission helped the two municipalities successfully seek the new grant.

“This completes a long process to connect the Chippewa River State Trail with the Old Abe State Trail and Red Cedar State Trail and is the last segment that will now provide a safe riding space between Durand, Menomonie, Downsville, Altoona, Eau Claire, Lake Hallie, Chippewa Falls, Jim Falls, and Cornell,” Rick Rubenzer, Chippewa Falls director of public works, said in a press release. “The City of Chippewa Falls is honored and excited to cosponsor construction of this final leg of the journey and welcomes bicyclist to this city and region.”

In addition to the money for the trail, the regional planning commission will receive $140,000 in federal funds to develop a regional bike and pedestrian plan for Dunn, Chippewa, and Eau Claire counties.

Gragert, of the Bike Fed, said such steps are necessary to help offer safe transit options for those who don’t drive. “There is a long way to go to build connectivity to and from the trail to places where people live, work, shop, and go to school,” he said. “We still need to create public transit (bus) connections between Eau Claire, Lake Hallie, and Eau Claire – and I think projects like this will showcase the benefits of making transportation that is accessible to people of any age, income, or ability.”

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Friday, Jun. 5th, 2015

Free Admission to Wisconsin State Parks (June 6–7)

Red Cedar State Trail
Red Cedar State Trail

Calling all nature lovers. June 6-7 has been declared Free Fun Weekend across the state. Wisconsin residents will be able to enjoy all of the state parks and trails with free admission. The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel’s Wisconsin Trails has put together a list of 15 places to enjoy Wisconsin’s natural wonders this weekend. Some highlights include the Elroy-Sparta state trail, Wisconsin’s first abandoned rail line-turned-bike trail; the Open Door Bird Sanctuary at Whitefish Dune State Park, and the Red Cedar State Trail’s sandstone formations just outside Menomonie. Grab some hiking shoes and hit the trail!

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Monday, May. 18th, 2015

Lowes Creek Mountain Bike Trail Ranked Most Popular in Wisconsin

Trailin' at Lowes Creek County Park
Trailin' at Lowes Creek County Park

Break out your wheels and head over to Lowes Creek Trail, mountain bikers. Singletracks – a blog and online discussion forum for mountain bike enthusiasts — has declared Lowes Creek Trail of Eau Claire the most popular mountain biking trail in Wisconsin. The site took an aggregate of its users quality rankings and favorite trails around the country to declare a most popular trail for each state. Singletracks describes Lowes Creek as being flat with a few log obstacles, hills, and creek crossings with plenty of opportunity for discovering new trails on repeat visits.

 

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Wednesday, Apr. 23rd, 2014

Coming Soon: Chippewa River overlook/access point

The Chippewa River near Water Street.
The Chippewa River near Water Street.

Eau Clairians will soon have a new way to enjoy the view of – and get to and from – the Chippewa River near Water Street. The Eau Claire City Council voted nearly unanimously Tuesday to OK plans by the Water Street Business Improvement District to build a 45-foot-by-30-foot overlook and deck at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Menomonie Street. The deck will be linked to the river by a pathway, which supporters say will provide access for tubers and other river users who now have limited options for getting back and forth to the water.

The deck and trail project was first suggested in 2009, but the idea had languished for five years until this spring. Now that the council has given its thumbs up, construction could begin as soon as this summer.

The project will be paid for by Water Street-area businesses, but construction required city approval. The deck and trail project was first suggested in 2009, but the idea had languished for five years until this spring. Now that the council has given its thumbs up, construction could begin as soon as this summer after backers iron out a few details with city engineers.

While the project has been promoted as a way to foster river recreation, safety worries were a sticking point in the council’s discussion. At a hearing Monday, Police Chief Jerry Staniszewski and Fire Chief Lyle Koerner expressed skepticism about increasing river access so close to taverns and strong river currents. These concerns led City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle to propose an amendment at Tuesday’s meeting that would have removed the trail from the plan.

Several council members, notably Eric Larsen, a former deputy police chief, spoke strongly in favor of the amendment. Larsen said that drunk people who may be in danger of wandering into the water and drowning will do so at easy access points – such as the proposed trail – rather than by climbing down the riverbank.

However, the majority of council members said the benefits of the privately funded, publicly accessible project outweighed the potential hazards. “If you put something off limits, it creates more weird behavior,” said Councilman David Klinkhammer. “You can’t legislate morality; you can’t legislate stupidity.”

Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell agreed, saying the project is good for river users and for merchants. “We should build this trail and work to make it a safe place, partly by developing a culture of use along Water Street,” Mitchell said. She suggested installing something akin to a bike rack that tubers could tie their crafts to when they exited the river.

Ultimately, Emmanuelle’s amendment failed 7-3, and the council voted 9-1 to approve the project, with Larsen casting the lone dissenting vote.

A concept drawing from 2012.
Wave to the tubers! (A concept drawing from 2012.)

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Thursday, Apr. 10th, 2014

New Eau Claire baseball park to open by next year?

Like this.
Like this.

This week (as seen on WEAU TV-13), the Eau Claire community Foundation announced that it would begin construction on a large project for Jeffers Park, located on Eau Claire’s northwest side. The Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association has volunteered the contractor labor - to build a multi-field baseball/softball complex, complete with a pavilion, playground, and trails. Most of the money will be generated by donations and many of the youth sport leagues involved have been working diligently to raise their portion of $300,000. More announcements are supposed to be coming at an upcoming Parks and Recreation Dept. meeting. The park could open by the spring of 2015.

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Tuesday, Jun. 4th, 2013

No laughing matter?

(That's a hyena.)
(That's a hyena.)

Look out Simba! Rumor has it that the hyenas are in town!   The Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls added two hyenas to its summer line-up last week according to this Chippewa Herald article.

Hyenas, who are typically found in parts of Asia and Africa, are “dog-like carnivores” whose origins go back nearly 22 million years.   The pair is currently making a home where the cougars were previously kept and will remain at the zoo until August.   Among other furry friends at the zoo this summer are zebras, lemurs, grey foxes, a yak, and many more.

These lovable carnivores will be chuckling as they bask in the Wisconsin sun all summer long, so stop by and say hello. But please, no petting!

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Monday, May. 27th, 2013

Fishing Downtown Eau Claire

 

We give a lot of credit to the Chippewa Valley’s rivers for making our home here in northwestern Wisconsin what it is. Heck, we even dedicated an entire issue (and a section of our website) to our waterways.

We might not be the only ones recognizing our watery attributes, either. 

We found a nice little article in the Wisconsin State Journal about a fishing trip with Dave Bakken, an Eau Claire native and avid fisherman, on the Chippewa River – right in downtown EC.

Our man Dave, along with his father Ron Bakken, has built himself a drift boat out of plywood that he uses to fish the waters around town. It’s a pretty cool piece of equipment that is 16 feet long with two identical ends you steer with oars.

If you’re into the more technical aspects of boats, this is a story for you. It’s a pretty amazing process that took the Bakkens from a drift-boat fishing trip near Hayward to fishing on their own handcrafted boat here in Eau Claire.

There’s no place like home for the Bakkens, especially when home is the quiet waters and old-school architecture of the surrounding structures that make the Chippewa River a great spot to fish.

Watch out though, the pictures accompanying this article are taken on the Eau Claire River, not the Chippewa (as stated), just a stone’s throw from the Volume One World Headquarters.

Oh, one cutline on the WSJ’s website even talks about Bakken navigating “rapids.” Perhaps that’s a little dramatic for the water running through downtown Eau Claire, but we’ll take it.

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Friday, May. 10th, 2013

Bike to work, you say?

Next week is Bike to Work Week throughout the great state of Wisconsin, and Volume One is ground zero for Eau Claire's two-wheeled, pedal-powered promotion of the healthy habit. The city's official kick off event will be held on Tuesday morning at the V1 World  Headquarters in downtown Eau Claire, starting at 6:30am (details below). Many Volume One staffers will be participating all week long, and we hope to post pictures and stories of getting to work on our bikes both here and on our Facebook page, so be on the look out. You may want to shield your eyes.

Learn more about Bike to Work Week here!

Bike to Work Week Kick Off Event   Tuesday, May 14 • 6:30-10:30am • The Volume One World Headquarters Parking Lot (205 N. Dewey St.) • free • Sponsored by Volume One, this event features a kickoff party at 8am including free coffee/snacks, "local celebrities" riding in, local bike trees, cool custom bikes on display including pedicabs, unicycles, tandems, and vintage bikes. Also the Wisconsin Bike Fed will be on hand in full force. Pedal on over!

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Wednesday, May. 1st, 2013

Nature is ready for its close up

It’s time to submit your very best(est) photos to the Beaver Creek Reserve for their annual nature photography contest. Contestants may enter up to ten photos each with a $2 fee per photo, while youth photographers pony up $1 per photo. Each photo entered has the chance to appear in the Reserve’s 2013 calendar with the winning photos exhibited in the Wise Nature Center, September through November.  

The categories include Mammals, birds, dynamics of nature, landscapes and plant life, man and nature, a student category, and “other wildlife.”  The photos must be submitted with no frames or signatures and cannot extend larger than 12”x 16”. Winning entries will receive a gift certificate to Sharp Photo. All photos need to be submitted before Friday, May 31. You can download this PDF with more details.

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