La Crosse Blufflands Project

La Crosse Blufflands

Mississippi Valley Conservancy has a unique and visionary partnership with the City of La Crosse in the form of the La Crosse Bluffland Protection Program. From 2002 to 2009, the city budgeted money each year which MVC uses to acquire properties within the eight-mile stretch of Mississippi River bluffs overlooking the city.  Funding from the city is leveraged with grants from Wisconsin's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.

Permanently protected by Mississippi Valley Conservancy. Owned and maintained by the City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation & Forestry. Please call 608-789-7533 with questions. For City Trail Maps click here.

The program provides scenic preservation to ensure that the beauty of the landscape is not destroyed by poorly-planned development, as well as protecting rare natural communities like bluff prairies and providing a marvelous outdoor recreational resource.

Through this program, MVC and the city carries on the proud tradition of land conservation in the Coulee Region pioneered by Ellen Hixon and other citizens in the early 1900s who purchased Grandad Bluff and Hixon Forest and donated these gems to the city for all residents to enjoy.  Through these ongoing efforts, MVC and the city work to enhance the quality of life of all local residents and visitors.

Nearly a thousand acres have been protected by MVC in addition to the hundreds of acres of Hixon Forest and Grandad Bluff.  The largest individual tract is the Medary Quarry property at 453 acres.  Miller Bluff and Cliffwood Bluff may be the most scenic parts protected, with their large, sheer rock faces.

Several parcels have been donated to MVC, including land from Barbara and Don Frank, and various parts of Cliffwood Bluff from La Crosse Floral Company and Jay Hoeschler, along with a conservation easement from the Terry Baier family.

MVC leads many guided hikes through the La Crosse Blufflands.  We also frequently take school and college groups on the bluffs for hands-on environmental learning and ecological restoration work.

As a result of the La Crosse Bluffland Protection Program, the City of La Crosse was recognized as "Policymaker of the Year" by Gathering Waters Conservancy in Madison in 2006.

La Crosse County

882 acres (86 additional acres with easements)


Hass: Easter Road, La Crosse, WI - From the intersection of Losey Blvd. and Ward Ave, head east on Ward Ave. to 33rd Street. Turn right on 33rd street and follow south to Park Lane Drive. Turn left on Park Lane Drive and follow to Maple Drive. Turn right on Maple Drive and go one block to Easter road. Turn left on Easter road (at the fork in the road stay right) and follow to trailhead, which is about ¼ mile up road and on the right. click here for map

Mathy: N3065 Cty Rd FA, La Crosse, WI - From La Crosse: Follow Bliss Road up the bluff past Alpine Inn. Turn Left on Cty Rd FA and follow for 1.5 miles. The trailhead parking lot is at end of road. click here for map

Beck/Miller: Rim of the City Road, La Crosse, WI - Follow Bliss Road up the bluff past Alpine Inn. Turn Left on Cty Rd FA and follow for 1 mile. Turn left on to Rim of City Rd and follow down to the cul de sac. Trail begins on other side of gate.
Skemp/Lenox: W5845 Cty Rd B, Onalaska, WI - Follow Hwy 16 north to Cty Rd B. Turn right and follow for ¼ to ½ mile just past Bethany Evangelical Church. The parking area is on the right and the kiosk is the start of the trail. This is an up and back hike and at the top it becomes private land and it is marked as such.