By Brennan Trimble
Exploring La Crosse can mean a lot of different things, from checking out a new café in town to fishing in the mighty Mississippi to taking the motorcycle out on some of our beautiful, winding highways, but today I challenge you to really explore. Grab a backpack with some trail mix and water, and lace up your boots, because I’m going to share with you a few great trails to hike and areas to off the beaten path to get out and discover!
Human Powered Trails
The Human Powered Trails are a part of a growing non-profit organization with a goal of maintaining and developing sustainable and environmentally-friendly hiking and biking trails in the La Crosse area. Located on County Highway FA next to the National Weather Service Station, explorers of all ages and skill levels are invited to come and immerse themselves in the nature that surrounds them. Because the organization is growing, the opportunities on the trails are endless – and constantly changing and expanding. Open for hiking, biking, birding, trail running (or just walking, picnicking, and enjoying the outdoors), Human Powered Trails is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or two with the kids, friends, or loved ones while taking in the spectacular bluffs of the coulee region.
John A. Latsch State Park
Located north on Highway 61 a few miles past Winona, MN is the entrance to John A. Latsch State Park, a hidden gem of hikers situated at the base of the bluffs. The path takes hikers a half-mile up the deep ravine to an overlook rivaled by none. From here, visitors can take in view that encompasses much of the Mississippi River Valley, the lush forest, or the bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the fall. The hike itself winds hikers under the canopy of trees, past rock faces and alongside trenches filled with rainwater. Pack a lunch and head north for a hike, view, and afternoon you won’t soon forget!
If you drive out past the weather station on County Highway FA and turn left on Rim of the City Road and follow it until it ends in a cul-de-sac, you’ll reach the Miller Bluff trailhead. As a more challenging hike, it isn’t recommended for the very young or very old, and will keep even the most experienced hikers on their toes. Miller Bluff path is a bit deceptive, starting out paved before quickly turning into a dirt path lined with boulders, logs, and stretches of steep incline. It also catches you off guard when you emerge from under the cover of the woods and realize just how high up you are, looking down on the city itself and Grandad Bluff. Bring a lunch to enjoy from the rocky summit, and enjoy the views, breeze, and birds that call the bluff their home.
About the Author:
My name is Brennan Trimble, and I am junior at Winona State University in Winona, MN. I am majoring in Marketing with a minor in International Business. I am a passionate basketball fan, a Seinfeld connoisseur, and I sometimes wish I had the opportunity to be a pirate. In my spare time I can usually be found on a beach or spending time with my roommates – that is, when I’m not exploring.