Outdoors

7 Hidden Hiking Gems in the Chippewa Valley

see if you can spot these seven secret wonders of the area

Dez Lezotte |

Photo by Unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

1. Kemper Woods, Lake Hallie

Sunlit trails wind through upland woods and young pines in this 80-acre preserve, part of the 630-acre Hallie Marsh Wildlife Area. It’s excellent for bird watching, as it is the site of over 50 years of continuous bird banding records.

Location: 15433 50th Ave., Chippewa Falls, 1⁄2 mile east of Highway 29. There is a well-marked parking area.  


2. Huettner Preserve, Chippewa Falls

Hidden on a dead-end road, the trails in this preserve near Chippewa Falls take you through 67 acres of upland oak woods and floodplain low-lands on Paint Creek. Be aware that the trails are not maintained, so this one is a bit more adventurous.

Location: 19900 50th Ave, Chippewa Falls. The trailhead is marked with a small Chippewa County Land Conservancy sign on the left, halfway down the dead-end road.  


3. Pine Harbor Woods Park, Chippewa Falls

If you want to get lost in the woods without any chance you’ll be truly lost, head to Pine Harbor Woods. This smaller-sized park has lots of winding trails and is near Lake Wissota State Park for even more hiking adventures.

Location: Navigate to 77th Avenue, Chippewa Falls. There are multiple entrances to this woods, so note where you park.  


4. City Well Field, Eau Claire

For trails covered by mossy carpets with towering trees overhead, plus 14 structures that look like tiny homes out of an old storybook (Spoiler: they’re well houses!), check out the City Well Field. Hidden right in Eau Claire, you’ll find over three miles of trails swirling through the woods at different elevations for hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing.

Location: There are two parking areas on Riverview Drive across from Riverview Park. Coming from the North Crossing, one parking area is right before the water treatment plant and one is a bit past Riverview Park.  


5. Sherman Creek Park, Eau Claire

With trails that go up and down into the meandering Sherman Creek ravine, crisscrossed with bridges, this smaller 30-acre park makes for an interesting and beautiful hiking spot. It’s perfect for taking pictures or chilling on one of the benches high above the creek.

Location: GPS will take you to a residential neighborhood, so instead, navigate to Sherman Elementary School and continue down the road just a bit. You’ll see the small parking area marked with a sign on the right if you’re coming from Eau Claire.  


6. Guettinger Woods, Mondovi

Expansive, rolling upland oak woods greet you at this hidden gem located between Eau Claire and Mondovi. While there are lots of trees, the woods aren’t dense and brushy, so you may see some wildlife. Go far enough into this 123-acre woods and you’ll reach a pond!

Location: Head to Sandberg Road off Highway 37. The parking area is on the left side of Highway 37 if you’re heading from Eau Claire, and it is marked by a sign.  


7. Fairway Park, Altoona

For a hike with meadow, creek, and a unique mix of flora including lots of wildflowers, head to this park, right off the beaten path beyond the new builds in Altoona off Highway 12. Pair it with a hike at Altoona’s Otter Creek Hiking Area for a day of creekside goodness.

Location: The parking lot is on Whistling Straits Drive next door to apartment complexes. Follow the paved path next to the parking lot down past the basketball courts to hike along the creek.