Scenic Fall Hikes In The La Crosse Region

Don’t miss the “golden” opportunity to see fall in the La Crosse Region! You can hike and wander among the mighty bluffs, peek into the orange and red leaves along the rivers and waterways, and witness vibrant, unparalleled views.

Take a Hike & Fall in Love with Autumn in the La Crosse Region

Captivating views are just a road trip away!

aerial photo of grandad bluff with golden orange colors for fall
Grandad Bluff

Grandad Bluff has become not only a destination point for thousands, but also a famous symbol of the great Driftless Region. The 600-ft high bluff overlooks the city of La Crosse, the Mississippi River Valley, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Just a short 10-minute drive up a winding bluff road or many trail heads through Hixon Forest there are legendary sights bursting of vibrant fall colors. Voted as “the most scenic view in the state” by Wisconsin Trails readers, this signature sight is a bucketlist must when visiting the La Crosse Region.

Aerial shot of Hixon Forest in the fall
Hixon Forest

Throughout the bluffs in our region, there’s nearly ten miles of hiking and multi-use trails that crisscross through wooded trails on the Eastern-edge of La Crosse alone. Four designated parking areas provide convenient access to the trails, which can also be reached by bike or on foot via connecting trails from Myrick Park, or even downtown La Crosse via Riverside Park. The Hixon Forest Trails offer access to the popular Grandad Bluff Park and its stunning views of the city and Mississippi River Valley, as well as four other designated vistas.

Great River State Trail/GRR
Great River State Trail &
Great River Road

Roll through or a walk along the Mississippi River on the Great River State Trail. Enjoy 24 miles of the most beautiful scenery in the Midwest. The hiking and biking trail traverses along 18 different waterways, crosses over the Black River on a 287-foot former railroad trestle, and follows Lake Onalaska and the BNSF railway. Pass through Mississippi River bottomlands, visit Nicholls Hopewell Mound, and the Upper Mississippi and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuges. From its trailhead in Onalaska, all the way to Trempealeau, the Great River State Trail is one beautiful landscape after another and is perfect for your scenic hike! And if hiking isn’t for you hop in a car and drive along the Great River Road. It’s a nationally renowned scenic byway that you can’t afford to skip! It winds up and down the Mississippi River, perfect for peeping fall colors.

La Crosse River Marsh Hiking Trails
La Crosse River Marsh Hiking Trails

Visitors may delight in the wonders of the flora and fauna of Wisconsin wetlands by running, walking, and biking on paved and gravel trails. The trail system in this wetland connects Riverside Park to the Great River State Trail, Myrick Park, and Hixon Forest, beginning at the confluence of the Mississippi and La Crosse Rivers and progressing through floodplain forests and marshland. The La Crosse River Marsh has been an important habitat for a plethora of native marsh mammals, migrating birds, and insects. More recently, this wetland has been used for water supply and flood control, updated by humans over the last one hundred years to include trail access to previously inaccessible parts of the marsh. Take a rest stop at the Myrick Park Center to gain more information about nearby natural areas and to look at animals native to the La Crosse River Marsh and the La Crosse River Marsh Hiking Trails.

Myrick Park
Myrick Park

Myrick Park is La Crosse’s oldest park and connects to numerous trails, from easy to hard, featuring scenic views of the marsh and surrounding bluffs. This park is a great place to start a trail run or hike as it’s a hidden gem in the middle of the city! The Myrick Park trail system connects to the Hixon Forest trails which also connect to the top of the bluffs and the human powered trails. Or, follow the Myrick trails on a bike out of the park, connect to the state trail system and ride all the way to Trempealeau in the north or Reedsburg to the east.

Apple Blossom Scenic Drive overlooking fall colors
Apple Blossom Overlook

Swing through La Crescent, MN along Apple Blossom Scenic Drive for a short, but epic scenic overlook of the region. Wind your way through the fall-colored bluffs and ascend at the designated overlook for a view of a lifetime. Here, you’ll walk down a short path and into the forest that opens up to a rocky view of the entire state below. This is a perfect time of year to view the fall colors as trees are changing into their golden oranges, yellows and deep reds. Plan to stop and pick fresh apples on your way up or down in the Apple Capital of Minnesota!