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Looking to hike the Centennial Park Trails in Eau Claire?
Before my visit home I scoured and mapped out my Wisconsin bucket list to make a plan to see all the things. One of those things I new I had to do was hike the Otter Creek Trails!
On Google Maps they’re the Otter Creek Trails, but on AllTrails it’s the Centennial Park Trails. They’re the same thing though.
I had no idea these trails existed but I think they’re pretty new. The park at the entrance looks new and I had never heard of them.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.
So one of the last days at home I decided to give the Otter Creek Trails a shot. We headed out midmorning and were the only ones on the trails until the very end!
This is a little trail system on the hillside along Otter Creek and it’s surprisingly well marked. I don’t usually like trail systems because they’re usually SO poorly marked which makes them so hard to navigate. But this one was nice and easy.
We just followed the AllTrails map which takes you on the outer loop. The trail starts off low, to the side of Otter Creek and as you go, it goes uphill so the creek is way below.
For the most part you can’t see the creek but when we could see it, it wasn’t too exciting. It would have been better I think with leaves on the trees but we were past peak fall colors by the time we did this.
I think most of it was pretty easy but there was one hill that just wouldn’t stop. I still wouldn’t say it’s a difficult hill/hike though.
Once we got to the back half of the loop we could hear more traffic from the 53 Bypass so if traffic noise really bothers you, you might not love this but I didn’t think it was too bad.
Once we made it up the hill that wouldn’t stop, it was pretty much downhill from there with just minor elevation gain after that. You’ll also be back down by the creek in no time.
There are a few spots where you can get a better view of the creek and go down to it. I bet it’s nice and refreshing in the summer but in October it would have been pretty chilly, though the weather was pretty perfect for the time of year.
Overall, I really enjoyed this hike and I’m glad I found it before I left home! I would definitely go back and do it again.
It’s a nice easy trail right in town and good if you want something that isn’t super busy but also isn’t just flat walking. It might be one of my favorite things to do in Eau Claire now!
Where are the Otter Creek Trails in Eau Claire?
The Otter Creek Trails are actually technically in Altoona but it feels like the east side of Eau Claire. Sometimes (on AllTrails) they’re called the Centennial Park Trails and as you can probably guess, the trailhead is at Centennial Park off of Spooner Avenue which is off of Business 53.
How long are the Otter Creek Trails?
The trails at Centennial Park are a trail system that, together, are 2-2.5 miles. We didn’t do all of the inside connecting sections but a sort of outer loop and that came out to 1.9 miles. If you diid one of the inner loops it would be shorter.
Are the Otter Creek Trails hard?
Not really but there are some hills. It’s not just a flat trail but the hills aren’t too wild. It has about 130 feet of elevation gain. And unlike a lot of trail systems, this one was actually pretty well marked! (I strongly dislike trail systems because almost every time they’re very poorly marked.)
Are the Otter Creek Trails worth it?
Yes! It’s not like Eau Claire is a booming hiking destination so most trails aren’t packed but I feel like this one is a bit of a hidden gem and not too busy. There is some traffic noise but overall I didn’t think it really ruined it. I’d hike the Otter Creek Trails again next time I’m home.
Otter Creek photo gallery
Eau Claire, WI hotels
The Lismore – This is a fancy new hotel in downtown Eau Claire with a coffee shop and restaurant on site.
The Oxbow – This is a cute boutique hotel in downtown Eau Claire. It’s just outside of the main downtown street but within short walking distance.
Econolodge – This is a good chain option right off the Interstate closer to the mall than downtown.
Residence Inn – This is off of Highway 53 on the northeast side of Eau Claire, kind of out of the way but it still looks nice.
Candlewood Suites – This is a nice option on the southeast side of Eau Claire just off of the Interstate. It’s also near the mall and out of the way of downtown but a good hotel.
Other Wisconsin posts you may like
Have you hiked the Otter Creek Trails in Eau Claire? What did you think of them? What is your favorite Eau Claire hike?