Action and Lesiure

your Best of the Chippewa Valley 2009 winners for sports and recreation

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson |

1st Place: Summer
2nd Place: Fall
3rd Place: Spring
In a huge upset, the reigning seasonal champion, Fall, has been trumped by Summer as the most beloved season in the Chippewa Valley. It’s not hard to see why, what with tubing, bike riding, cliff jumping, picnics, cookouts, swimming, tanning, Fourth of July, Ski Sprites, all the outdoor music, farmers markets, and a bazillion outdoor festivities. Besides, apple pie completely owns pumpkin pie. Oh, and Spring came in a very distant third. Only because Wisconsin winters suck. – Bailey Berg

1st Place: The Great Outdoors
2nd Place: Highland Fitness
3rd Place: YMCA

With the open bike paths, tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, who wouldn’t want to exercise outdoors? The Chippewa Valley has many places for people to get fit, which is why The Great Outdoors holds the top spot for the second year. People work up a sweat from walking, rollerblading, biking, and running along the Chippewa River trails while we ease into fall. Kicking it up a step in services offered and placement in the poll is Highland Fitness. With three locations, personal trainers, and lenient hours, their popularity has increased from third to second place in the past year. The YMCA of Eau Claire provides a weight room, cardio room, and pool for those who want to take a dip, and the convenient location downtown is vital for a lot of the members. – Emily Diehl

1st Place: Hickory Hills
2nd Place: Action City
3rd Place: Wild Ridge (tied)
3rd Place: Lake Hallie (tied)

I’m a golfer. I hit the ball with a ferocity that is unmatched, but with an accuracy that can be far surpassed. In first place for the second year in a row is Hickory Hills, the reason: affordability and difficulty. The Hills offers reasonable rates that the recreational golfer can enjoy and a course design that everyone can be challenged by. In second place is Action City mini-golf. You may not need to bring your driver, but you should bring a little sense of adventure and of course, action! Action City offers plenty of hazards at this course so keep a wandering eye. In third place we have a tie between Wild Ridge Golf Club and Lake Hallie Golf Course. Wild Ridge is a beautiful course with a higher level of difficulty than most in the area, while Hallie offers a newly restored course under new ownership for the 2009 season. FORE! – Mark Koenig

1st Place: I’ll never tell
2nd Place: Bullfrog Fish Farm
3rd Place: Chippewa River (tied)
3rd Place: Half Moon Lake (tied)

There must be a few good places to fish in the Chippewa Valley. I’ll never tell has won two years in a row (meaning voters are staying true to their promise), and with that many votes, I need to get in on this daily dose of omega-3. Second place goes to Bullfrog Fish Farm. Open casually year-round, the fish farm allows people to catch some trout and get ’em cooked up on the spot. This can involve some quality family bonding time on weekends. Tied for third are Half Moon Lake and the Chippewa River. Surrounding Carson Park, Half Moon Lake is a great place to treat fishing as recreation. Lastly, the trail along the Chippewa River allows many people to cast their lines and enjoy the scenery. – Emily Diehl

1st Place: Seven Bumps/East Hill Cemetery
2nd Place: Pinehurst Hill
3rd Place: Mount Simon

The sledding hill in the East Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire, more commonly known as Seven Bumps, has topped the Best Of Poll for the second time. Perhaps it’s because of the cemetery, which adds a more frightening appearance, or possibly it’s just the sheer bumpiness that defines the hill. (Word to the wise: Use inflatable snow tubes, rather then sleds with metal runners – they’ve been known to lead to concussions.) Pinehurst comes in a close second, but its out-of-the-way location may have hurt its standing in the polls. Third place Mount Simon offers two sled courses, carved out by local snowboarders, one of which is a winding trail through a thick growth of trees, whereas the other is a straight downward plunge, known to make even the most macho of men to scream like little girls. Short children and the faint of heart need not apply. – Bailey Berg

1st Place: Memorial Hockey
2nd Place: North Boys Basketball
3rd Place: Memorial Swimming and Diving

The Chippewa Valley loves its local high school sports. Adults like to point to the TV during Sports Scene 13 and proudly say, “I remember when that kid was just a little tyke and in diapers.” Topping the list of local high school sports that make Chippewa Vallians get the “warm and fuzzies” is the Memorial’s Boys Hockey team, and it’s not hard to see why. After the Memorial men took the state championship two years ago, more and more parents were seen sporting MHS apparel. Coming in second is North’s Boys Basketball, the Husky fans’ little pride and joy, and state contenders the past two years. Wrapping up the top three is Memorials Girls Swimming and Diving, which boasts a handful Olympic hopefuls and a diver who has taken second at state. You RAH RAH! – Bailey Berg

1st Place: Coon Fork Lake County Park
2nd Place: Lake Wissota State Park
3rd Place: Brunet Island State Park

The classic combination of campfire, s’mores, friends, cheeky raccoons, and a starry night sky is all one needs to enjoy summer in Eau Claire. But where do you pitch your tent? Location is everything when you are seeking a rural hideaway to escape the city. Rated number one in the Chippewa Valley is Coon Fork Lake County Park, with private, woodsy sites that make it tricky to spy on your neighbor (a bonus or hindrance, depending). Campers have a wide variety of recreation from swimming, canoeing, and hiking, to horseback riding. Lake Wissota, northeast of Chippewa Falls, slides into second place with its 1,062 acres of forest abounding in furry woodland animals, secluded sites, beach, and hiking trails. A mere hop, skip, and jump further north is Brunet Island State Park, which also boasts 1,200 acres of breathtaking beauty and recreational activities. Plus it’s an island! How cool is that? – Heidi Kraemer

Really?: About 30 people prefer pitching a tent “Outside Wal-Mart.”

1st Place: Big Falls
2nd Place: Chippewa River
3rd Place: Lake Wissota

Wisconsin has a bunch of lakes. We have a gigantic water park. Heck, we even build water parks inside buildings for when it gets cold outside. We love the water, and since it was discovered as an awesome place to hang out and maybe drink beer, Big Falls has been a perennial favorite for folks of all ages to hang out and keep cool. Rivers are neat, too, and the Chippewa River has been an especially nice place to float, canoe, or kayak for anyone who isn’t afraid of water that moves. Last but not least, the landmark Lake Wissota stands out as a suitable venue for boating, water-skiing, swimming, and fishing. Maybe when you’re tired of all that pull up to the shore and have a bite to eat or enjoy the beauty of Lake Wissota State Park. – Aryn Widule

1st Place: Bowl-Winkles
2nd Place: Wagner’s Lanes
3rd Place: Action City Mini Bowling

For the first time in the history of the Best Of poll, Bowl-Winkles tossed a perfect strike in the final frame to win the game. The alley up on Clairemont with the animated moose just barely edged out Wagner’s Lanes, which narrowly missed a turkey and instead picked up the spare. Gliding into third is the Action City Bowling Alley, with its kid-friendly sizes of balls and pins on a short alley recalling the old days of duckpin bowling. – Bailey Berg

1st Place: Chippewa River State Trail
2nd Place: Eau Claire River Route
3rd Place: Red Cedar State Trail

The Chippewa Valley is an active person’s paradise with its rolling hills, rushing rivers, and hiking/biking trails. The Chippewa River State Trail was voted the No. 1 place to get sweaty, running 30 miles between Eau Claire and Durand with the trailhead in Phoenix Park. It is paved slick and smooth up to the 11-mile mark near Caryville. From there the trail connects to the third place Red Cedar State Trail, which is a sealed asphalt emulsion suitable for bikes, but not necessarily for rollerblades, extending all the way to Menomonie. Whether you are zipping along on your bike or rollerblades or taking a relaxing walk, the trail is mostly flat and shoots along the Chippewa River allowing you to rest your eyes on green leaves and rushing water. Rated second for best hiking/biking trail is the Eau Claire River Route, running parallel to the Eau Claire River, as part of the Chippewa River State Trail. – Heidi Kraemer