By Amy Bayer
Majestic bluffs, verdant valleys and incredible rivers make Trempealeau County a destination abundant in natural beauty. The name itself means “Mountain Soaking in Water,” and was designated by Native Americans and French Explorers. Part of the unglaciated Driftless Region, the area is rugged with steep hills and picturesque farmlands interwoven by quiet backroads.
Whether you start or end your adventure at the Mississippi River it is a sight to behold, and Trempealeau County offers numerous opportunities for scenic overlooks, as well as chances to explore the Black, Trempealeau and Buffalo rivers that weave through the county.
Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers, this state park is home to some of the most challenging hikes with breathtaking views in the state. Brady’s Bluff and Perrot Ridge offer two opportunities to hike to the top of scenic overlooks with the river valley below.
To the west of the park, Trempealeau Mountain rises from the water and is a beautiful backdrop to the wetlands below.
There are opportunities to kayak and canoe the surrounding bay in the spring, summer and fall, as well as cross-country ski through the ridges and valleys of the park during the winter. Perrot State Park offers natural wonders around every corner during all four seasons.
Thousands of waterfowl and migrating birds travel each year through this refuge located along the Mississippi River migration corridor, with peak seasons for birdwatching in the spring and fall. More than 5,000 acres make up this protected area that is bordered on the north by Wisconsin's Great River Road and to the south by the Mississippi River.
Visitors can hike, bike, drive, snowshoe or ski around the property to explore the wide variety of plants and animals in the wetlands, prairie and forest.
The Lakes Coulee protected area is located just southwest of Blair and in addition to allowing public hunting, the grounds also offer a Class III trout stream. There are no designated hiking trails; however, the public is welcome to explore the property which is a prime location for wildlife viewing and bird watching. Rabbits, squirrels, deer, turkey, ruffed grouse and pheasants all dwell here.
The river, locally known as “the Beef,” was named “Riviere de Beeufs” by early French explorers for the many bison that once inhabited the area. The trail is built on a former railroad corridor and passes by farmlands, woods, hills and wetlands on a level, easy trail. Although it closely follows the River’s route, the winding waterway is mostly obscured by the dense woodlands, hills and wetlands that contribute to the area’s beauty.
If biking is your passion, head down to the southern part of the county for additional biking and hiking along the Great River State Trail in Trempealeau.
More than 1,300 acres of hardwoods, marsh and grassland, this wildlife area is located north of Independence. Be sure to check out the Wisconsin DNR's map to locate the several parking areas throughout the property.
Even though there are no designated trails, the land offers great opportunities to hike and explore, especially on some of the lightly traveled roads that wind through the hills and valleys of the property.
Approximately five acres in size, this park showcases natural beauty and wildlife viewing along Beaver Creek. Along the nature trail are cliffs, natural springs and a cave. Located in the southeast side of Galesville, the entrance can be a little tricky to find. Parking is available at the south end off of East Mill Road.
Paddling enthusiasts can take this 4.5-mile loop through the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
The slower-moving water and intricate network of sloughs and islands are a haven for wildlife. During the spring and fall, this is one of the best ways to observe the migrating birds that flock to this backwater habitat.
The boat landing is located at the end of Lake Road on the south side of Trempealeau.
Want to read more? Check out these seven statewide natural wonders, and keep an eye on TravelWisconsin.com as we roll out more articles on scenic wonders by county.