The highly anticipated Grandad Bluff trails are now open, as crews finished the last phase of construction on the series of multi-use trails last week.
The trail system includes more than five miles of hiking, biking and multi-use segments, through one of the most well-known destinations in the La Crosse area, just in time to see the fall foliage.
Users can access the trails either below or on top of the bluff through three entry points: a series of natural rock staircases on Ebner Coulee Road, a bike and foot traffic-friendly access point on 29th Street, or near the parking areas along Grandad Bluff Road on top of the bluff.
“The new trails will provide an outstanding additional recreational resource for residents of La Crosse, while also drawing vital recreational tourism into the area,” said Jay Odegaard, director of the city’s parks department.
The trail system initially received push back from neighbors, even through a short-lived lawsuit, many neighbors concerned about the environmental impacts of trail-building and potential increased traffic to their narrow residential streets.
But those in favor of the trails saw the project as a chance to gain more access to the bluff and protect it, often susceptible to rouge trails, litter and graffiti.
“The increased recreational advantages coincide with a positive environmental impact through trail stabilization and directed human travel, avoiding sensitive natural areas,” Odegaard said.
“Developing Grandad Bluff Park into a multi-use trail system will provide neighborhood access, alleviate pedestrian road traffic and will help clear out litter and invasive species that have built up over the years. The ecological benefit is great,” said Randi Pueschner, vice president of Outdoor Recreation Alliance Trails, the city’s partner in the project.
A naming committee made up of community members has chosen names for each of the trails, and the city of La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners will adopt the recommendations this week at its Thursday meeting.
Officials said users should be cautious when using the new and sensitive trails, and that to protect them, users should to turn back if the trails are damp enough to leave tracks.