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West Central Wisconsin: We’re Going Places

West Central Wisconsin residents embrace the outdoors in all seasons.

By Kevin Litwin on November 11, 2020

West Central WI
Eau Claire / Rachel Hershberger

Whether it’s on water, trails or ski slopes, West Central Wisconsin’s natural attractions promote an active and healthy outdoor-oriented lifestyle during all four seasons.

Numerous rivers and lakes, standout parks, nature areas and miles of greenways and trails are the perfect recipe for experiencing nature. That includes the winter season, with some of the Midwest’s best skiing occurring at Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area, with its 24 runs and comfortable lodge. Also available to winter recreation enthusiasts is Willow River State Park, with more than 200 miles of snowmobile trails and one of the most scenic waterfalls in the state.

West Central Wisconsin Offers Fun for All

The region features top destinations like Lake Wissota State Park, where hikers and fresh air lovers are enticed by more than 1,000 acres of rich forest and open prairie surrounding a 6,300-acre lake with a 285-foot swimming beach. Another popular destination in the region is Stout’s Island Lodge, located in forestland along Red Cedar Lake and offering activities such as fishing, boating, golf and ferry cruise rides.

The region’s communities boast quality parks as well, including Windmill Park in Baldwin. The two-acre park is named for a Dutch windmill constructed in 1987 by local volunteers, and the park has a small stream known as Baldwin Creek running along its northern boundary.

West Central WI
Eau Claire / Cameron Gillie

Naturally Speaking

Natural areas are a West Central Wisconsin staple, with choices like Perch Lake Nature Trail just west of Whisker Lake Wilderness. The region is also graced with the striking Ice Age Trail, which features distinctive rock structures that were sculpted by ancient glacial ice.

In St. Croix Falls, Fawn-Doe-Rosa Wildlife Educational Park is a family-run destination that educates visitors about wildlife and nature. The natural area has operated since 1963 with attractions like a deer yard, a barnyard, pony rides and a petting area.

Here’s to Your Health in West Central Wisconsin

Hikers and bikers can get a good workout and experience eye-pleasing views along various Rusk County trails in the Blue Hills, which are named for the misty color that envelops the ridges during the early-morning hours.

Recreation options there also include wildlife viewing, camping and ATV riding.

West Central WI
Eau Claire / Rachel Hershberger

Ripple Effect

Many rivers run through West Central Wisconsin, and some of the best whitewater paddling in the Midwest can be found on Flambeau River. Whitewater segments along the Flambeau are designated for novice paddlers, low-hazard rapids, medium-hazard rapids and several Class II runs for experts.

The Thornapple and Jump rivers provide more relaxing canoeing and swimming options in the region, and a popular spot for tubing is the Apple River, where attractions, such as River’s Edge in Somerset, offer camping, waterslides and swimming. Fans of sailing and river cruises can enjoy the St. Croix River, an official National Scenic Riverway.

Fun for All Four Seasons in Greater Eau Claire

For those who like to fish, hot spots for catching walleye, bass, trout, sturgeon and northern pike include Red Cedar Lake and Lake Menomin. Another popular fishing location in West Central Wisconsin is along the Chippewa River.

For something a little different, take a tour of Crystal Cave, the largest commercial cave in Wisconsin. Professional guided tours allow visitors to walk along paved pathways extending 70 feet beneath the Earth’s surface to view stalactites, stalagmites and other crystal formations. Four species of bats call the cave home.

If you’d like to learn more about West Central Wisconsin, check out the latest edition of West Central Wisconsin Economic Development

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