Hiking on the Wisconsin Great River Road
Travelers on the Wisconsin Great River Road have many opportunities to get out of the car and onto the trail. With four state parks, a national wildlife refuge, and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy lands just to start, there are a wealth of choices.
Hiking in the blufflands and backwaters that make up the landscape along the Wisconsin Great River Road offer many different nature experiences. Forests, oak savannas, prairies, river bottoms, and majestic overlooks can all be found. Each type of environment provides its own flora and fauna unique from each other.
You will find many trails as you explore along the Road. Western Wisconsin is full of beautiful locations to discover, and we wanted to share with you four of them that are worth the stop.
Buena Vista Trail – Alma, WI
This hiking trail will not only lead you to a beautiful overlook of the Mississippi River Valley, but it will give you a workout in the process. The trail begins on Second Street in the town of Alma, WI. It can get steep in parts as it winds it way up the bluff to Buena Vista Park, 500 feet above the town. From the park you can watch barges going through Lock and Dam #4 from the largest natural balcony to overlook the Mississippi River. Put on the back pack and fill it with snacks to take advantage of the overlook’s picnic tables before you begin your trip back down.
Mound Point Trail – Nelson Dewey State Park
This is an easy trail for a leisurely hike in popular Nelson Dewey State Park. It’s a 2.2 mile, there and back, trail that welcomes your dog (as long as they’re on a leash). The trail features the Mississippi River and takes you to pretty overlook, although you will be hiking through hardwood forest for the majority of the trail. This trail is also great for observing the wildlife of the park, with benches available. As you hike Mound Point you’ll pass by the Native American mounds that give the trail it’s name.
Jersey Valley – Westby, WI
There are 3.1 miles of trails that circle Jersey Lake just north of Westby, WI in Jersey Valley County Park. This park is beautiful and ripe for trail expansion. Work is ongoing to provide more access to hikers and mountain bikers and you may find there are trail builds in progress. The trail sticks close to the lakeshore at times, and at times it climbs upwards of 250 feet. You’ll find a mix of easy and intermediate hiking difficulty. You may wish to bring along the swimsuits or fishing poles as there is both a beach and plenty of fishing access.
Hidden Falls Trail – Kinnickinnic State Park
Hidden Falls Trail is also known as the Red Trail in Kinnickinnic State Park. The trail is a 2.9 mile looping trail that takes you through prairies, pines and hardwood forests. It follows the Kinnickinnic river bluff, one of the tributaries that adds its water to the Mississippi River. The ‘hidden falls’ is off of the trail and has its own side trail down to the water. It’s very steep. If you are going to give the side trail a try, use caution, take your time and be sure to wear sturdy shoes. But hikers of the trail will tell you the crystal clear water is worth checking out.