Week 2 of 52 Week Hike Challenge 1/7/18–1/13/18
After the stress of jury duty and running some errands it was finally time to go hiking. For the first time in awhile Jason and I got to go together with Phoenix on this adventure. Being that Jason and I work opposite schedules and a lot of his spare time during winter is spent trapping this doesn’t happen to often. My brother Cole also tagged along for this one. Jumping in the SUV we let the long curves of the back roads wind us through the unique backwoods of Wisconsin and the people that make it home. Passing by a homemade wind mill, snowman made of hay bales, coonhound breeding grounds, targets in the middle of fields, small town bars and people stocking their wood piles yup that’s Wisconsin, that’s home.
We followed those roads all the way up to the beautiful Granddad Bluff area. The trail itself is not in Granddad Bluff Park but near. Parking for the Upper Hixon Forest trails is next to the weather station off County Road FA in La Crosse. A bike park is right there and some of the trails here are for mountain/fat tire biking also. Restrooms are porta potties, and there is a large map to plan out your route but no paper map to take. There wasn’t when we were there at least. Always take a picture of trailhead maps weather you have a paper map or not!!!!! Finally with over 18-20 uniquely named trails available you can put together several different routes here. We hiked the Imberm, French Connection, Abys, part of Moonshine and the connector trails.
It was forecasted to be 45 and cloudy, in January I’ll take it. Although that was not shaping out. The wind had picked up, the sky started misting on us and temps were not getting above 36. We drove this far though I’m going for a damn hike (35 min drive).
The first part of the trail was wide open prairie leading up to a very short section of what we called the Enchanted forest with tall hovering pine trees paving the way. Feeling like ants in comparison I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like walking among the Sequoia’s, one day I will find out!
Once we dropped down off the ridge and more into the valley it started to become perfect hiking weather. With our blood flowing and excitement at what was around us starting to grow we were nice and toasty all over again. The trails were mostly snow covered interesting switchbacks with sometimes confusing intersections. There was a bridge we spotted that made us change up our route plan a bit. Side note all bridges are cool to me its just something different in the woods and I have to cross them.
I spotted a few more things that were a little different like this leaf that was standing straight up all by itself. I wasn’t going to take a picture at first but I was like really how often do you see that. Then we come up on this log that once blocked the trail but was cut and situated into what looked like a sitting log. We are unsure of its real reason but really liked the cuts so it was picture worthy.
Jason and I switched carrying Phoenix at the bottom of the valley so I got the luxury of hiking him back up the long steep hill. Thankfully it was a straight stretch so you could see the end…………… eventually.
All in all I really recommend these trails. We will be coming back several more times to check out all the trails they have to offer. When winter hiking I suggest trekking poles cause like all trails it can get slick and rocks are sporadic through the whole area.
Hixon Forest area host various trail runs such as the Great Pumpkin chase which I attended this past October which turned me on to this area in the first place. I honestly never knew these trails existed until then and I have lived in this area my whole life. That’s another reason for this 52 Week Hike Challenge to just get out and explore and really learn what your area has to offer. You will be surprised. I know most people like me look for any reason to get out of the area but during winter months when daylight is sparse you need trails close to home.
They also host Hixon Forest Epic in August which is La Crosse’s #1 Mountain Bike Races. Get out and enjoy this beautiful area. Thank you all for your interest.
You can also find me on Facebook as Wandering Nirvana!!