Sunscreen, Bug Spray, and Hats: Grab Your Gear & Explore These Trails

trails in and around the Chippewa Valley, recommended by Landmark Conservancy

Kelly Carlson, Zaria Whitacre

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR! Get outside and enjoy the vast amount of stunning scenery we get to enjoy here in the Chippewa Valley, including its plethora of trails. Pictured is the Red Cedar Trail. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth
IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR! Get outside and enjoy the vast amount of stunning scenery we get to enjoy here in the Chippewa Valley, including its plethora of trails. Pictured is the Red Cedar Trail. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Finding your go-to hiking spot this summer is easy thanks to Landmark Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization based in Menomonie.

As a land trust, Landmark works with local government, organizations, and individuals to create public preserves and trails for all to enjoy. Here are a few special trails protected by Landmark with a few other recommendations sprinkled in from Rick Remington, conservation director and interim executive director at Landmark Conservancy.

Preserved by Landmark: 

1. Elk Creek Bottoms

Off 960th Street, five miles west of Eau Claire • Overlooking both Elk Creek and The Lower Chippewa River, this unique property features trails that follow almost 70 acres of stunning topography. With a winding creek and scenic bluffs; grab your bug spray and your binoculars to enjoy all this property has to offer. 

2. Town of Union Conservancy Area

Off Crescent Avenue, west of Eau Claire • One mile east of Elk Creek Bottoms is the Town of Union Conservancy Area. This area, originally 84 acres, grew in size by 43 acres thanks to the partnership of Landmark Conservancy. Although close to Elk Creek, the Town of Union differs in terms of forest composition and the character of the trails.

An overlook at the Town of Union Conservancy Area.
An overlook at the Town of Union Conservancy Area.

3. The Devil’s Punchbowl

410th Street, Menomonie • “Everybody’s favorite,” Remington laughed. With a newly installed stairway, this 3-acre property hits the spot for quick & easy outdoor access. Travel down the stairway to an iconic preserve that features a unique natural rock amphitheater and fern-covered cliffs. A 45-foot waterfall along the walls of the Punchbowl can be seen after heavy rain.

4. Sherman Creek Park

West Vine Street, Eau Claire • Owned by the Town of Union, this park is located just down the street from Sherman Elementary School. Here you’ll find beautiful landscapes right in the city for hiking, birdwatching, and mountain biking. With a pavilion right along Sherman Creek, this park is perfect for your summer picnicking needs.

5. Mary Fitz Park

County Highway Z near Highway 37, between Eau Claire and Mondovi • Located near Highway 37, this park is a bit of an untold gem. “We’ve converted a pine plantation to a prairie with hiking trail(s),” Remington said. “The prairie is looking better now, being planted a few years ago … and burned twice.” The park is currently open to the public, but improvements such as proper signage and trail maintenance are ongoing.

Mary Fitz Park.
Mary Fitz Park.

Recommended by Landmark: 

6. The Red Cedar Trail

“It’s (a) relatively short trail,” Remington started. “People love to bike to Menomonie to Downsville and back. It’s a quick ride and I love it!” Located near Menomonie at its start, this trail connects to the Chippewa River State Trail and passes along small towns, significant rock formations, farmlands, and follows parts of the river for a beautiful outdoor experience.

7. The Lower Chippewa State Bike Trail

“A lesser used segment of (The Red Cedar Trail) that’s kind of wild and kind of remote is The Lower Chippewa State Bike Trail," Remington said. You won’t see many people along this segment running from the Red Cedar Trail in Downsville up to Eau Claire. “We are so lucky to have a public bike trail system in Wisconsin and we’re even luckier to have those resources right in our backyard, whether you’re walking or biking!”

8. The Ice Age Trail

Going north, the segments of the Ice Age Trail in Chippewa County and within the Chippewa Moraine are gorgeous year-round. “You’d be hiking along the terminus of the last glaciation, our tension zone we like to call it, where you see northern species meet southern species, so there’s a lot of diversity,” Remington said. Going further up North out of the Chippewa Valley, you can visit another segment of the Ice Age Trail at Straight Lake State Park near Luck, protected by Landmark Conservancy.

Learn more about Landmark Conservancy and its protected areas at, and learn about upcoming events and volunteer days on their Instagram (@landmarkwisconsin) and Facebook (@landmarkconservancywi). The co-author of this article, Zaria Whitacre, is a communications specialist with Landmark Conservancy.