Wellness Recreation Outdoors

Take a Hike: Great Local Hiking Spots

see the leaves, feel the sun, suck some of the crisp autumn air

V1 Staff |

Eau Claire River Route

Downtown Eau Claire to East Side Hill

Start at the paved trailhead hidden across from L.E. Phillips Memorial Library’s underground parking entrance on South Dewey Street. The trail brings you across to the north side of the river on an old railroad trestle S bridge, then across the footbridge into Boyd Park. Take an immediate left after the Boyd Park Bridge and go along a wood-chipped hiking path. Before the trail ends you have to catch a left turnoff into the woods near the end of the clearing, onto a trail that eventually reaches Archery Park. 

Trip Falls & Devil’s Punchbowl

From Menomonie, go west on Hwy 29, turn left after crossing the Red Cedar River, and left again on Rustic Road. Pull over when you get to a small bridge with metal guardrails; path will be on right.

The trail is not too difficult and it is short (about 1/2 mile), but requires some agility to climb up the small cliffs alongside three waterfalls. The gully widens and the path gets easier after about 500 yards. Check out the Devil’s Punchbowl, where you can take four flights of stairs down into the ravine, or walk around the rim. 

Tower Ridge Recreation Area

From Eau Claire, go east on Hwy Q and take a right on Hwy L, and go south about a mile to the ski area parking lot

The Tower Ridge trails are wide and wind through the oak forest, around and over a number of steep hills. Several spots even have wooden benches to stop and admire. Although the trails at Tower Ridge can be a bit maze-like, just follow the signs and you’ll get back to your car. 

Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area

10 miles out of Menomonie near Hwy E

Hoffman Hills has nearly nine miles of hiking trails, chosen based on length and difficulty (lengths vary from 1.7 to 4.4 miles). At the north end of the park is a 60-foot observation tower. It’s almost never crowded, so pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the three picnic areas.

Putnam Trail

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

UW-Eau Claire warns hikers to stay on the Putnam trail’s wide dirt path as everything else that’s natural is studied for scientific research. The trail starts where the Little Niagara flows into the Chippewa River, marked with a gorgeous arched stone bridge. A semi-steep climb on newly constructed steps that takes you above the river for some photo ops. 

Big Falls County Park

10 miles east of Eau Claire off Highway Q

Big Falls is the site of considerable summer activity, though pleasantly devoid of such for the next half-year. The trails, though not extensive, cut through forest either side of county roads Q and K. Broad sand beaches and stout granite outcroppings make for good picnicking. 



Also check out Volume One's
Chippewa Valley Hiking Trail Guide.


Other great hikes to check out:

Hickory Ridge Trail This nine-mile trail, located in northern Chippewa County in the County Forest, begins in a parking lot off of 225th Ave. (Bob Lake Rd.).

Irvine Park This two-mile trail is a gently rolling path for bikers and hikers. The trail is located in Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls on Bridgewater Avenue. 

Lowes Creek County Park Lowes Creek’s 11 miles of multi-use trails appeal to runners, walkers, and bikers. Located off S. Lowes Creek Rd. Parking pass required.

Old Abe Trail Twenty miles of paved, multi-use trail from Chippewa Falls to Cornell, winding through agricultural and forestland. One of the trailheads is northeast of Chippewa Falls on 97th Ave.

Red Cedar Trail A 15-mile trail connects Menomonie to Dunnville and shadows the steep walls of the Red Cedar Valley. Wildlife includes woodpeckers, songbirds, turkey, grouse, pheasants, fox, and deer. 

Willow River State Park From I-94, take Exit #4 and go north on Hwy 12. Then straight onto Hwy U to Hwy A. Continue north for 1.5 miles. The park entrance will be on the left. With more than 13 miles of trails, this is a natural playground for any nature lover. Trails offer plenty of riverside panoramic views and scenic overlooks of gorgeous waterfalls.