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The 30.4-mile Chippewa River State Trail kicks off at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers in downtown Eau Claire’s Phoenix Park, where visitors can access a walking labyrinth, amphitheater, farmers market, restrooms, parking, and the southwestern endpoint of the 28-mile Old Abe State Trail, which heads to Cornell. Heading southeast, your journey begins over a 500-foot-long trestle that used to carry train cars of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.
The trail hugs the shoreline of the Chippewa River as it winds south to Owen Park, which features the Sarge Boyd Bandshell, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Riding past, you may witness an Eau Claire Municipal Band concert, wedding, play, or other lively public events.
Long, straight stretches of trail await as you leave the city and enter farm country; enjoy the fresh air and the fragrant aroma of the many wildflowers that dot the region. Near the trail’s halfway point you’ll reach the Caryville trailhead, just off WI 85, which provides restrooms, drinking fountains, and ample parking. The route then winds along the banks of the river in a deciduous forest until you reach Meridean, an unincorporated community in the town of Peru.
At about 22 miles, after passing two trestles over the snaking Cranberry Creek, you’ll enter Old Tyrone, a ghost town marked by an interpretive plaque. A shelter perched above the trail, just a few steps up the cliffside, offers picturesque views of the nearby river bend.
The trail terminates at the Tarrant Park trailhead in Durand, approximately 6.5 miles past the junction of the Red Cedar State Trail. Here, you’ll find ample parking as well as a registration office for purchasing State Trail Passes. About a mile and a half farther west of Tarrant Park, Lower Chippewa View Park provides beautiful waterside views. Snowmobiles are permitted between Porterville Road and Durand.
NOTE: A State Trail Pass ($25 annually/$5 daily) is required between Eau Claire and the Pepin County line for bicyclists and in-line skaters ages 16 and older. Snowmobilers must display either a Wisconsin registration or a snowmobile State Trail Pass. For information, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html
In Eau Claire, metered parking is available in a municipal lot just east of the trailhead off N. Farwell St. From I-94, take Exit 70 onto northbound US 53. In 3.8 miles, take Exit 89 toward River Prairie Dr. Head west on River Prairie Dr. for 0.6 mile, and turn left onto Galloway St. just after crossing the Eau Claire River. In 1.8 miles, turn left onto N. Farwell St. The Railroad Street parking area is located midblock to your right.
The eastern end of the trail is located about a block west in Phoenix Park. Additional on-street parking is available here on Riverfront Terrace (2-hour parking from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Friday) by following the directions to the Farwell St. lot above and continuing on Galloway St. for an additional block. Turn left onto N. Barstow St. and then right onto Riverfront Terrace. Look for parking on the left. The trailhead is on the left, just after you pass the Royal Credit Union.
To reach the Tarrant Park trailhead in Durand from I-94, take Exit 88 onto US 10 in Osseo, heading west. Drive 38.8 miles, and turn right onto E. Prospect St. After 0.3 mile, turn left onto 14th Ave. E. The parking lot is 0.1 mile ahead on your right, just past where the trail intersects 14th Ave. The endpoint is located 0.8 mile southwest along the trail.
I'll throw my 3 cents in and agree with the reviewers from the last couple years that the "chip seal" surface between the Red Cedar trail junction and Caryville is bumpy and potholed. I started at the Highway 85 rest area and got to ride a couple miles of nice smooth asphalt, which I expect continues into Eau Claire. But on my route west, the change to the "sort of paved" surface was sudden and unwelcome. Too bad, because the scenery is not unpleasant, it doesn't track right next to a highway, there are few road crossings of consequence, and no hills to worry about.
There are limited views of the Chippewa River, but those few stretches are particularly lovely. And a short side-trip up the Red Cedar trail brings you to a spectacular bridge over the river. I turned around here and returned for about 33 miles round-trip. The pavement at the junction became very good again and I think continues the last 7 miles to Durand, though it's been several years since I rode that section. The Red Cedar is well-packed stone. I've ridden that one often and would definitely choose that surface over the potholes.
This is probably my last ride on this trail unless it's completely repaved. Next time I'll do a round-trip from Durand to the Red Cedar and turn around at Downsville or so, for a more relaxing ride of 25 or 30 miles. No potholes to dodge.
We biked this trail for the first time on May 22nd 2015. Leaving from Durand headed towards Eau Claire. It was smooth asphalt for 4miles till the split that heads to Menominee. We went another 8 miles and that section was a bit rough but not unbearable. We also saw and captured a photograph of a bear cub.
Rode this trail in early October of 2015 from Eau Claire to Durand and back for about 64 miles. We parked at a municipal lot in Eau Claire near Phoenix Park which is where we caught the trail. This trail is as flat as a trail can get. A variety of scenery including farmland, forest, hills and the river. The Cell Block in Durand was a nice place for a lunch break before turning back.
Our mileage included a short side trip up the Red Cedar trail just to check out the bridge which I would recommend.
My wife and I biked from the Durand trailhead to the small town of Meridean on Tuesday, September 8. The conditions were good between Durand and the intersection of the Chippewa River trail and the Red Cedar trail. However, the 4 miles between the intersection and Meridean was extremely rough, with moss/grass growing in the middle of the pavement and some pretty rough riding. For that reason, i don't recommend riding with anything other than a hybrid or mountain bike tires.
Great trail with lots of changing scenery. We started in downtown Eau Claire and biked just path Caryville and back. The trail is very smooth and even.
This has always been a favorite trail with me - shady and quiet with wooded and marshland scenery. Very even, no hills. On Jun 30th, 2015, we were about 4 miles west of Meridean and about 130 yds ahead of us we spotted a big black bear. Obviously we waited until he lumbered off.
The DNR might consider putting up a notice that there is a slight chance you might see a bear, and what precautions to take. But it is still a wonderful trail and this is the first bear I have seen since the trail opened.
My brother and I rode from Durand to Eau Claire 8/20/13. Although i appears to be 10 or more years old, it is in good repair and a bloom with wild flowers. It will be nice when the trail is completed between Eau Claire and the Old Abe trail in Chippewa Falls.
We rode the Chippewa River Trail from Durand to the junction with the Red Cedar trail and then up the Red Cedar Trail to Downsville. A great ride, with a nice mix of shade and sun exposure. The Chippewa trail is blacktop while the red Cedar trail is hard pack. Not a problem for my 700 x 320 tires. Would be OK for a true road bike as well. Nice view of the Chippewa River as you cross a long RR trestle bridge and then nice looks at the Red Cedar river as well. Take a short side trip up to the old Creamery in Downsville for a relaxing lunch (Sunday Brunch served).
I took Timbee's advice and tried the Chippewa River State Park Trail with a background of Fall colors, although I probably missed the peak by a week. The trail is pleasant and varied in scenery. The big thing to be aware of, however, is the severe damage from the summer 2010 storms. One section is technically closed, but you can get past it by carrying your bike through the washout. Repairs are in process.
I enjoyed riding the Chippewa the day before I did the Red Cedar (trails join at southern end of RC); very peaceful & quiet, few others on it during the week. The in-between towns are very small with limited amenities. Both Durand & Eau Claire have many restaurant choices and pleasant parks.
The surface was quite variable; it's paved all the way from Durand to Eau Claire. The two ends are the best with Durand having very nice, smooth asphalt. The middle sections aren't so hot--many rough places even with weeds growing up in the middle of the pavement. The scenery along the Chippewa is very nice & it's not at all hilly. I'm sure a fall ride would have spectacular color.
My husband and I rode from Eau Claire to Caryville in June, 2008, and had a wonderful ride. I don't have a lot to add to Dennis's excellent and thorough review, but here are a few random notes.
This is a good summertime trip because there is quite a bit of shade, plus the cooling effects of the river. Even the section of trail that runs through Eau Claire is shady and pleasant, tracking right along the river near the college. There is an amazing variety of scenery on this trail, ranging from city to wetland to rolling prairie to the occasional soybean field. We were charmed to come upon a pair of enormous Sandhill Cranes spearing frogs in one of the swampy areas. We were also amused by what seemed to be hundreds of baby bunnies scampering frantically back and forth across the trail. And if you like bridges, this is your trail! I looked back at pictures I took on the trip and they seem to be one arty bridge shot after another.
Having read Dennis's description of the rest of the trail, I look forward to seeing more of it next year.
I Rode this trail in early October with my Scorpion Fx recumbent trike. It was a beautiful fall day, and the trees were just beginning to paint the landscape with brilliant colors of red and gold.
You can either begin your ride at Carson Park or Owens Park in Eau Claire. I started at Owens Park which is on the Eastern end of Eau Claire just off of Menomonie Street. The trail takes you across the campus of the University of Eau Claire, down a steep hill, and then along the Chippewa River. After approximately a mile the trail ends on the streets of Eau Claire. You'll need to ride on the street for about two blocks, before the trail reconnects. You'll cross a steel railroad trestle just North of Grand Ave. at which point the trail takes you through some of the older neighborhoods of Eau Claire, and then winds along the wooded banks of the Chippewa River as you leave Eau Claire going West.
At around mile marker 7 you'll reach a rest area with a view of the Chippewa River. It's beyond this point that the trail turns from a smooth asphalt to a course asphalt giving you somewhat of a bumpier ride.
In approximately another 5 miles you'll reach the small village of Carryville. Here you'll find another rest area with picnic tables as well as a grocery store, for stocking up on supplies.
6 miles beyond Carryville you'll reach the quiet little town of Meridean with it's vistas of the Chippewa River.
In approximatley another 7-8 miles you'll reach the Dunnville nature preserve and the 860 foot railroad trestle crossing the Chippewa River, and the start of the Red cedar Trail going North to the town of Menomonie. This is a good place to rest, and just enjoy the Spectacula view of the Chippewa River. At this point you can decide whether you would like to cross the trestle to ride the 14.5 mile Cedar River Trail, or continue on another 6 miles to the village of Durand.
This 24 mile trail has a lot to offer with it's beautifull vistas of the Chippewa River, and numerous wooded areas and praries you'll encounter.
This trail is an easy trail to ride with virtually no hills, or steep grades, and plenty of solitude.
I would highly reccommend this trail to anyone who loves being among the beauty of nature.
"The extension to Durand is completed with a smooth asphalt finish. This adds 6.5 miles or so to this trail.
The two things I didn't care for about this section were the lack of a sign for available services when you get to Durand. Not knowing the town how do you go about finding food, etc.? Not even a near by gas station to ask at.
The other thing about this trail is the 12 stop signs on this section. Only 3 are necessary I feel. The rest you stop for driveways, farm field driveways and even an ATV path. So you won't make any good time on this path, but it'll give you alot of practice unclipping from your pedals. "
"We started our ride in Caryville and rode west to the junction with the Red Cedar Trail, then up to Downsville. The trail often runs adjacent to the River-far from any roads or highway noise. The only sounds are the birds singing in the trees.
The asphalt black top, while not as smooth as some trails, is nowhere near bone- jarring as stated in your ""Mixed Bag"" review in 2002. In fact, it seems to be well maintained, which contributes to making it a great trail to ride."
"This trail is now open all the way to Durand, about 8 more miles than the trail used to be. The trail is paved with smooth asphalt until about mp 10. After that it's rough asphalt until the junction with the Red Cedar state trail. After that the surface for about a half mile is crushed limestone, then it becomes hard packed gravel. About two miles from Durand the surface again is paved.
The packed gravel section isn't for every bike. Even though the surface is packed hard the trail is best ridden with a larger width tire. Hopefully, they'll pave this someday.
Between the rest area on Wis. 85 and Caryville the trail doesn't have much scenery, since it runs though mainly farm fields. There's not much shade either.
West of Caryville the trail stays fairly close to the Chippewa River. Here you get plenty of views of the river and a lot of shade. Also Caryville is the last place to get water until Durand which is about 17 miles. So be sure to fill your bottles up."
"There are a number of scenic spots along this trail, and it certainly takes advantage of the Chippewa River, but after the smooth limestone of the Red Cedar River Trail, the rough asphalt of this trail is a bit bone-jarring. Because of its connections, it's a nice trail for overnighters. "
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