|And from Mary's body language, nobody will mess with my stuff!|
|See? It DOES look just like someone's driveway.|
So..........how to find the trail end. Travel south on Hwy. 35 to Marshland, a blip in the road between Fountain City and Trempealeau. Marshland is on Hwy. 35 and 54 which join together in this particular stretch. If approaching from the north, look for the Marshland sign, and then a railroad track crossing. The trail access road is IMMEDIATELY after the tracks, and the road is to the right (going south). If approaching from the south, the access will be JUST before the tracks, turn left (going south). It looks like this:
|There is a sign, but it is easy to miss.|
|Looks like a driveway, right by someone's garage!|
|This is what you will find after driving less than a block.|
Driving to Onalaska from the north on Hwy 35, get off on Business 35 to go through the town of Onalaska at the first exit to do so, otherwise you will miss the trail head and have to approach it from the south, most likely having to go through LaCrosse and turning around. Just remember to get to the trail head, go on Business 35, not the Hwy 35 bypass.
|This helpful sign on Business 35 tells you where the trail information center is.|
You can certainly go to the Visitor Center, because the helpful people there will tell you how to find the trail head which is about...........a half mile?..........away. When you drive down Bus. Hwy 35 from the north, and turn left (east) on Main Street, be patient and just keep going. The Visitor Center will appear on the left side of the street. The Visitor Center used to be located on Oak Forest Drive, but not anymore.
|This is it, and you know EXACTLY what corner it is on.|
|Go inside. Buy a trail pass, get a trail map, or other area info. Use the "facilities".|
|2nd Avenue South and Irvin|
|Park here! The trail starts at the north end of the parking lot.|
|Dressed in orange for hunting season, and ready to hit the trail.|
|The long and (not) winding road. 24.4 miles.|
|Beyond the shrubbery, next to the river: the railroad and many trains.|
|The trail features environmental and historical info about the area.|
Creek crossings and river crossings means you will be meeting many bridges. No trolls. Some bridges were under repair:
|The small community of Brice Prairie.|
|Brice Prairie porta-potty sighted!|
|Mileage markers are a good thing. Encouragement!|
|"I hear that train a-comin', it's comin' round the bend.........."|
|Watching freight cars makes clear China's trade dominance.|
|Lytle's Landing, another one of the many places to access the trail.|
I am unfamiliar with the rules about hunting, where one can/cannot shoot. I met two fellas on the trail, toting rifles of some sort, and it looked very much like they were shooting right from the trail. Squirrels. Black, gray, red squirrels........they held no prejudice to squirrel color, said the guy with no front teeth. His spiky haired companion agreed. Miles of river bottom surrounding me, I just exchanged pleasantries, and hoped I bore no resemblance to a squirrel.
|Black River bridge.|
|Looks like a great swimmin' hole.|
|Say yes, Stacy, say yes!|
|He left without his hat.|
|The first day of fall (autumnal equinox) and it is beginning to look like it.|
|Bear poop? It has corn, kinda loose..........I think bear.|
|Imagine. Two thousand years ago. The Hopewell tradition.|
|Arrival in Trempealeau. Potties!|
|Cross Hwy 35 here in Trempealeau. Maybe time for a break at 14.3 miles.|
|The sign at the Hwy 35 crossing. Perhaps you want to see the hotel.|
|And here it is! Quainty.|
|Views of the Mississippi, of course.|
|Enough fooling around. Wipe that beer foam off your nose and hit the trail.|
|Trempealeau behind. Perrot State Park to the left. More wildlife refuge ahead.|
At this point, the trail turns into a bicycle turnpike, with four lanes. For some reason. Whatever. I took the high road, because that's what I do.
Marshland to the left, marshland to the right, and the town of Marshland ahead. During this time, I was hearing continuous gunfire. There must be a shooting range nearby. I was a bit apprehensive, imagining stray bullets, but this did not happen, and I am here to blog. Happy about that.
|Trails end. No bullet holes.|
On the way home, we stopped in Alma, one of my favorite river towns. We had a wonderful meal at:
|In good weather, sit on the patio.|
And then we strolled around the town. 'Cause we can.
Trail head location: Onalaska, Wi (Business Hwy 35/2nd Avenue South, corner of Irvin and 2nd Avenue South) or the trail end at Marshland (Hwy 35/54, see above post for more info)
Length: 24.4 milesUsage: (Summer) Biking, hiking, non-motorized. (Winter) Snowmobiling, cross-country ski (ungroomed).
Surface: crushed limestone
Highway crossings: Multiple small highway crossings, one major highway crossing (Hwy 35) in Trempealeau
Scenic: It's just great
Signage: I appreciated all the environmental information. Many historical signs, and yes: mile markers.
Regional trail system: 4 trails in the southwestern area: Elroy-Sparta State Trail, the Great River State Trail, the La Crosse River State Trail, the 400 State Trail. See the link above for Friends of the Four Trails.
Rest stops: Onalaska, (the Visitor Center, numerous gas stations, restaurants) Brice Prairie (porta-potty), Lytle's Landing (porta-potty), Trempealeau (toilets, and the town offers gas stations and restaurants, coffee shop), and there is a supper club in Marshland, but it is a supper club. Not always open, you know.
Those are the facts, Jack. I really like this trail, and the drive home along the river can't be beat.
Mantra: I may not get there first, but I'll get there.