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La Crosse's Marsh Trail Network is a collection of paved and unpaved trails occupying the 1000 acre wetland where the La Crosse River meets the Mississippi River. The marsh, which lies minutes from downtown, has long resisted development pressures, although more than half its area has been lost since World War II. Efforts to restore and protect the marsh are ongoing, as are efforts to turn around the image of the low-lying wet areas from hinderance to natural and recreational asset. That's where the trails come in.
Vietnam Veterans Trail is one of the paved trails in the network. The trail begins near the north end of Riverside Park, one of the city's most popular recreation spots, located at the confluence of the La Crosse and Mississippi rivers. The park is a favorite place for picnics, viewing boats and barges, and watching the sunset over the Mighty Mississippi. The neighboring Riverside International Friendship Gardens is a collection of gardens each celebrating one of La Crosse's sister cities across the world. The Vietnam Veterans Trail begins as a wide, paved trail meandering through the gardens, crossing from one side of the complex to the other, and then continuing east, following the La Crosse River upstream. The trail ducks under 3rd Street, then enters the famous marshlands. Lush vegetation hems users in until the trail emerges onto Lang Drive, across from which another Marsh Trail, the Willow Trail, picks up the journey.
The Vietnam Veterans Trail also connects to the Jim Asfoor Trail via a bridge over the La Crosse River near its west trailhead.
At the west end of the trail, users can park in front of the Riverside International Friendship Gardens (345-, 405 E Veterans Memorial Dr, La Crosse).
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