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Stay and Play: Walking, hiking opportunities abound in St. Croix County

Paperjack Creek Trail is one of 13 walking trails available in New Richmond. The trail is one mile long and runs along County Road GG -- consisting of both street sidewalk and paved trail. The paved trail loops in the southeast corner of County Road GG/East 11th Street and Highway 65/Knowles Avenue amid a prairie grassland.

One hundred years ago, walking was a means of transportation. Today, it's more of a recreational activity.

Whether it's a casual stroll with the family or a solitary trek in the wilderness, there are plenty of trails in the area to accommodate your needs. Below is just a sampling of what is available in the area.

Walking paths

New Richmond offers several walking trails that measure approximately one mile. Many of them are paved and this is good for those families with strollers or those needing handicapped accessible assistance.

According to the New Richmond's Guide to Trails and Parks brochure, there are 13 trails in the city - two with two separate sections. Some are nature trails, some are sidewalks, others are paved trails in a scenic environment. However, most of them connect with each other through Knowles Avenue.

Hatfield Lake, just off Highway 64 and Highway 65, has three different trails, one of which is a nature trail on the west side of the lake totaling one mile. It hooks up with the second one-mile trail that is paved on the south side of the lake. A third paved trail is on the east side and is only half a mile long.

The longest continuous trail in New Richmond is the Rail Bridge Trail at 1.7 miles. This paved trail is located between West Sixth Street and Richmond Way and takes the back way down to the business park amid trees and open fields.

The shortest is Mill Pond Trail located off Knowles and West First Street. At one-tenth of a mile, it is a quick walk around the fountain in downtown New Richmond.

For more information about New Richmond's trails, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 715-243-0440.

Hiking trails

For those people who like their walking a little more rugged, hiking trails are available throughout St. Croix County. Not all these trails will be paved and they are usually a bit longer, but they afford some spectacular scenery.

Willow River State Park at 1034 County Road A, has 13 miles of trails that vary in degree of difficulty. For a day pass of $4 or an annual pass of $20, people can hike right up to the Willow Falls and see scenic overlooks of the valley.

Homestead Parklands at Perch Lake at 550 Perch Lake Road in Hudson is another state park that offers hiking among its many amenities. A day pass is $4 or an annual pass is $20. Call the Perch Lake office at 715-549-6515 for more information.

The Wildwood Trail starts in Woodville and heads south to the St. Croix County line. It used to be a railroad right-of-way, but now serves as an off-road jogging, hiking and bicycling trail that is closed to motorized traffic. The trail is managed by the St. Croix County Parks and Recreation Department, and is open to the public.