Monday, May 19, 2014

La Crosse Bluff Hikes, by Danielle Cook

            La Crosse residents have the unique opportunity to explore nature when the weather gets warmer and spring approaches western Wisconsin. The Myrick Hixon EcoPark provides a hub to many bluffland and marsh trails. Grandad Bluff Park is another popular location for visitors, offering a complete view of the city below, from La Crosse’s most famous bluff, part of the Hixon family gift to the city.

            The EcoPark is a collaborative nature reserve supported by community organizations such as the earlier Hixon Forest Nature Center, seven local Rotary Clubs and the City of La Crosse. In 2007, the Myrick Park Zoo was transformed into a community nature attraction designed to be environmentally friendly and teach visitors about La Crosse’s wildlife and natural landscape. The EcoPark has six suggested hiking paths, and bikes can also be ridden on some trails.

            Grandad Bluff Park was first made accessible to the public in 1912. It is celebrated for its spectacular vista of the city of La Crosse down below the bluffs, with an expansive view of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa from the top. Wisconsin Trails readers voted it “the most scenic view in the state.” Grandad Bluff is the largest bluff in the La Crosse area, with an elevation of 600 feet.

In April 2012, a renovation of Grandad Bluff Park was completed. The park itself has a shelter, coin-operated binoculars and picnic areas. The connected bluffs also have six trails suitable for hiking, trail running, or biking. In the winter, specific trails like the Medary Quarry or Welch Trail can be used for snowshoeing and skiing.
            “I love hiking the bluffs,” noted UW-L sophomore Dani Cox. “There are different trails you can take depending on how adventurous you want to be. No matter which one you choose, the view is always worth it!”

            Some trails close temporarily, for safety and to prevent damage during wet Spring and rainy weather.