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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.
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 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.
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.
Eau Claire, WI hotels
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.
My favorite Eau Claire shops and restaurants
Otter Creek photo gallery
Eau Claire, WI Books
- Wisconsin Legends & Lore
- Storied & Scandalous Wisconsin: A History of Mischief and Menace, Heroes and Heartbreak
- Little Faith
- Beneath the Bonfire: Stories
- Shotgun Lovesongs
- The Jesus Cow
- Best Tent Camping: Wisconsin: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization
- Monsters of Wisconsin: Mysterious Creatures in the Badger State
- Moon Wisconsin: Lakeside Getaways, Scenic Drives, Outdoor Recreation
- Wisconsin State Parks: Extraordinary Stories of Geology and Natural History
- A Dog Lover’s Guide to Hiking Wisconsin’s State Parks
- The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish
- Haunted Wisconsin: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Badger State
Have you hiked the Otter Creek Trails in Eau Claire? What did you think of them? What is your favorite Eau Claire hike?