Photo Series: Places to visit for views of the La Crosse area’s fall colors


Views from Miller Bluff. (Photo taken by Sara Hafften).

Sara Hafften, Photo Journalist

Although La Crosse’s fall colors are drawing to an end, there is still some time to get outside and enjoy what the driftless area has to offer. Hopefully, you will be able to find a new favorite spot to relax and unplug after virtual meetings. 

Miller Bluff 

 Miller Bluff has a clear view of the fall colors of Hixon Forest and vistas of the city of La Crosse. If you look closely, you will be able to see both Minnesota and Iowa on the horizon. Be sure to bring along a camera to capture the views from three overlooks.  

 The hike from the bottom of the bluff can be steep and have occasional tricky footing, so aalternative to this hike is to park a half a mile from the county road FA trailhead on top of the bluff.  

 After exiting the hiking trail, the first vantage point overlooks Hixon Forest with Grandad’s Bluff in the distance. “Rivers” of golden birch trees flow through the forest beneath the bluff. As you walk through prairie grasses, the trail will split to the left and you will arrive at a sandstone overlook with a view of the city and the marsh below. Backtrack to where the trail splits, hike up the bluffs a few steps and enjoy another sandstone overlook with even more expansive views.  

Myrick Park 

Myrick Park is La Crosse’s oldest park, which features paved and unpaved trails, views of the marsh and bluffs, and the Myrick Park Center that hosts year-round environmental education as well as weddings, parties, and corporate events.  

The Myrick Park trail system connects to the Hixon Forest trails as well as the state trail system, which leads all the way to Trempealeau in the north or Reedsburg to the east. This is the perfect place to run, hike, bike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski, with views of the buffs to your left and right.  

Some other aspects to note are two boardwalk lookouts to view the marsh, a bridge that crosses the La Crosse River, and multiple benches if you need to take a break or want to stop to look at the scenery along the trails. While sightseeing, stay on the lookout for wildlife such as waterfowl and muskrats.  

Perrot State Park 

Perrot State Park’s 1,200 acres are nestled among 500-foot bluffs where the Trempealeau and Mississippi rivers meet. This park is known for its natural, archaeological, and historical resources. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the park has an indigenous history older than both the city of La Crosse and the United States. “Research shows that Archaic period tribes were in what we now call Perrot State Park as early as 7,000 years ago. Remnants of these cultures remain in the form of mounds found throughout the park. These mounds have been researched and documented by archeologists in several studies over the years. Visit Perrot’s nature center to learn more about the cultural history of the park. 

If you would like to enjoy a relaxing walk, park at the park headquarters and head north along the Riverview trail for views of the Mississippi River, Trempealeau Mountain, and Trempealeau Bay. About halfway along the trail, walk up wooden steps or park in the Black Walnut Nature Trail parking lot that leads to a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk with a vista point of the converging rivers. 

One unique feature of Perrot State Park is its direct access for bicyclists from the campground to the 24-mile Great River State Trail. This park offers visitors a great location to camp, hike, bike, canoe, kayak, boat, and fish.  

Drive on U.S. Highway 162 Heading South of Bangor, Wi.

If you would like to enjoy the fall colors of the La Crosse area without leaving your car, a scenic drive on U.S. Highway 162 heading south of Bangor, Wi. is a great option. The valley of trees during autumn is filled with farmland and livestock. This road is adjacent to the Dutch Creek. If you turn onto U.S. Highway 33, you will be able to see views of the bluffs and valley below.