The Safer At Home order issued by Governor Evers has banned non-essential travel with few exceptions. One of the exceptions defined in the order relates to outdoor activity.  Outdoor activity is essential to provide both physical and mental health benefits during these unprecedented times.  Here in the La Crosse Region, there are great outdoor resources and opportunities for you to enjoy while practicing safe social distancing.

Hiking & Biking

A perfect way to stretch the legs and let your furry friends burn off some energy is with a quick stroll down (or up) one of the many great trails the area offers.  The Great River State Trail, La Crosse River Trail, and Three Rivers Trail are great options for easy, flat walking or biking with beautiful scenery along the routes.

Looking for something to burn the legs a bit more?  A multitude of options for more difficult terrain, climbs, features, and scenic lookouts at the Hixon Forest Trails and La Crosse Blufflands Trails.

*Please be aware that hiking on muddy trails causes permanent damage to sensitive habitats. If you come upon a muddy trail, go back – don’t go around.  During the spring thaw, some of the Hixon Forest Trails and Upper Hixon Trails are closed to protection and sustainability to enjoy in the future.  For up-to-date information on trail closures, visit the Outdoor Recreation Alliance website at www.oratrails.com.

If road cycling is more your style, be sure to check out the numerous routes from Bicycle La Crosse that highlight the area, which offers some of the best bicycling in the Midwest.  Listed, you will find easy in-town rides to moderate or hard routes to get the blood flowing and the legs burning through some of the area’s best and biggest hills and bluffs!

Fishing

Spring is primetime for phenomenal fishing, no matter the species you seek.  As fish prepare for the spawn and recovery afterward, they will be eating anything that passes within striking distance.  This is the perfect time to check out some of the pristine streams for trout, hit the main channel for big walleye, perch, and sauger, or navigate the scenic backwaters for tasty bluegills, crappies, big northern pike or largemouth bass.

For more information and tips to enjoy safe fishing during this time, be sure to check out #FishSmart in the La Crosse Region.

Hunting

The spring turkey-hunting season begins April 15th and extends through May 26th.  All public hunting grounds remain open to turkey hunters, including those state parks closed by Governor effective April 10th, 2020.  Additional public lands open to hunting in the La Crosse region include the Coulee Experimental Forest, Van Loon Wildlife Area, and several Mississippi Valley Conservancy nature preserves.

Don’t have a turkey tag but interested in trying your luck at bagging a bearded bird?  Bonus harvest authorizations (remaining turkey tags) are still available online at the DNR’s website on a first-come, first-served basis.

Is waterfowl hunting more your style?  While that season is not currently open, now is a great time to gear up to hunt the Mississippi River Migratory Flyway, one of the best waterfowl hunting destinations in the country.  Wisconsin Ducks Unlimited Online Auctions provide an opportunity never before offered outside of an event setting.  Wisconsin’s DU team will host a different auction weekly for your chance at exclusive gear while supporting waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

Enjoy Nature Virtually

Nature offers endless opportunities for exploration, and now you can enjoy it from the comfort of your couch!  Thanks to the partnerships of the Raptor Resource Project and multimedia organization, explore, you can view incredible live feeds of falcons on Great Spirit Bluff in La Crescent, MN, or two separate bald eagle nests located in Decorah, IA.  Decorah Eagles and Decorah North Eagles show stunning live looks inside the nests of the 7-foot wing-spanned national bird.

As a reminder, keep it local…

You don’t need to travel for any of the aforementioned activities. Take this time to make plans for great future excursions outside your community once the Safer At Home order has concluded.

Continue to practice safe social distancing.  Be sure to keep at least 6 feet between you and anyone you may encounter while on the trail, field, or water and only enjoy these activities with those in your immediate household.

Safer At Home may mean social isolation, but it still allows for some much needed enjoyment of the outdoors.  This means more time with the family in the woods, on the water, on the trails, or planning that future family excursion.  So enjoy it!