Chippewa River Water Trail In Wisconsin

Here is everything you need to know about the Chippewa River Water Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Wisconsin
  • Length: 4.2 miles.
  • Type: Water trail.
  • Surface: water
  • Managed By: Chippewa Watershed Conservancy
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Chippewa River Water Trail holds a significant place in the history of the region, serving as a vital transportation route for Native American tribes and early European settlers. The river, named after the Ojibwe (Chippewa) people who inhabited the area, has played a crucial role in shaping the development and growth of communities along its banks.

For centuries, the Chippewa River served as a major trade route for Native American tribes, including the Ojibwe, Dakota, and Ho-Chunk. These tribes utilized the river for transportation, fishing, and gathering resources. The river’s abundant natural resources, such as fish, wild rice, and timber, provided sustenance and economic opportunities for these indigenous communities.

With the arrival of European settlers in the 19th century, the Chippewa River became an important waterway for logging and lumbering industries. The vast forests along the riverbanks attracted entrepreneurs and sawmills, leading to the establishment of numerous logging towns. The river facilitated the transportation of logs downstream to sawmills, where they were processed and shipped to markets across the country. This logging boom brought prosperity to the region and contributed to the growth of towns and cities along the Chippewa River.

Over time, as the logging industry declined, the Chippewa River transformed into a recreational resource. The establishment of the Chippewa River Water Trail in recent years has further enhanced its significance. Today, the water trail offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife observation. It allows visitors to experience the natural beauty and historical heritage of the Chippewa River, connecting them to the rich history that has shaped the communities along its course.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area – This access point is located near New Auburn and offers a variety of recreational activities, including canoeing and kayaking on the Chippewa River.

2. Brunet Island State Park – Located near Cornell, this state park provides access to the Chippewa River and offers camping, hiking, and fishing opportunities.

3. Irvine Park – Situated in Chippewa Falls, Irvine Park is a popular access point for the Chippewa River Water Trail. It features picnic areas, walking trails, and a zoo.

4. Riverview Park – Located in Eau Claire, Riverview Park offers access to the Chippewa River and features amenities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and a boat launch.

5. Phoenix Park – Situated in downtown Eau Claire, Phoenix Park is a central access point for the Chippewa River Water Trail. It offers a boat launch, walking trails, and hosts various events and festivals throughout the year.

6. Big Falls County Park – Located near Eau Claire, this county park provides access to the Chippewa River and features hiking trails, picnic areas, and a waterfall.

7. Lake Wissota State Park – Situated near Chippewa Falls, this state park offers access to Lake Wissota, which is formed by the Chippewa River. It provides camping, boating, and fishing opportunities.

8. Loopy’s Grill & Saloon – Located in Chippewa Falls, Loopy’s is a popular access point for the Chippewa River Water Trail. It offers a boat launch, dining options, and live entertainment.

9. Cobban Bridge – This historic bridge near Jim Falls provides access to the Chippewa River and is a popular spot for fishing and canoeing.

10. Brunet Island Boat Landing – Situated near Cornell, this boat landing provides access to the Chippewa River and is a starting point for various water trail adventures.

Transportation Available

1. Chippewa Valley Airport Service – Airport shuttle service for convenient transportation to and from the Chippewa Valley Airport.
2. Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance – Public transportation system offering bus services in the Chippewa Valley area.
3. Chippewa Valley Regional Airport – Regional airport providing commercial flights and general aviation services.
4. Chippewa Valley Taxi – Local taxi service for quick and reliable transportation in the Chippewa Valley.
5. Chippewa Valley Trail System – Extensive trail network for biking, walking, and running, offering a scenic way to explore the area.
6. Chippewa Valley Electric Railway – Historic electric railway offering nostalgic rides and tours in the Chippewa Valley.
7. Chippewa Valley Bike Share – Bike sharing program providing convenient and eco-friendly transportation options in the Chippewa Valley.
8. Chippewa Valley Limousine – Luxury limousine service for special occasions and events in the Chippewa Valley.
9. Chippewa Valley Pedicab – Pedicab service offering unique and eco-friendly transportation in the Chippewa Valley.
10. Chippewa Valley Water Taxi – Water taxi service providing scenic river transportation along the Chippewa River Water Trail.


The amenities available at the Chippewa River Water Trail may vary depending on the specific location along the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the Chippewa River Water Trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the water trail may have restroom facilities available, either at designated access points or nearby parks and recreation areas.

2. Parking: There are usually designated parking areas or parking lots near access points along the water trail, allowing visitors to park their vehicles while they enjoy the river.

3. Camping Sites: Along the Chippewa River Water Trail, there may be designated camping sites or campgrounds where visitors can set up tents or park RVs for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Many sections of the water trail offer picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack while taking in the scenic views. These areas often have picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles.

5. Boat Launches: The water trail typically has boat launches or access points where visitors can easily put their canoes, kayaks, or other watercraft into the river.

6. Fishing Areas: The Chippewa River is known for its fishing opportunities, so there may be designated fishing areas or fishing piers along the water trail.

7. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The river and its surrounding areas are home to various wildlife species. Some sections of the water trail may have designated wildlife viewing areas or observation decks where visitors can spot birds, mammals, and other creatures.

8. Interpretive Signs and Information: Along the water trail, you may find interpretive signs or information boards that provide educational information about the river’s history, ecology, and points of interest.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or visit the official website of the Chippewa River Water Trail for specific information about amenities available at different access points along the trail.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– River’s Edge Campground – Campground located along the Chippewa River offering scenic views and outdoor activities.
– Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Modern hotel with comfortable rooms and amenities near the Chippewa River Water Trail.
– Super 8 by Wyndham Eau Claire I-94 – Budget-friendly hotel conveniently located for easy access to the water trail.
– The Oxbow Hotel – Boutique hotel with stylish rooms and a restaurant, perfect for a relaxing stay near the water trail.

2. Food Services:
– The Informalist – Farm-to-table restaurant serving locally sourced dishes near the Chippewa River Water Trail.
– The Brewing Projekt – Craft brewery offering a variety of beers and food options, ideal for a post-paddle refreshment.
– The Livery – Cozy pub with a diverse menu and a selection of drinks, located near the water trail.
– The Goat Coffee House – Quaint coffee shop serving delicious beverages and light bites, perfect for a quick stop during your water trail adventure.

3. Emergency Services:
– Mayo Clinic Health System – Medical facility providing emergency services and healthcare near the Chippewa River Water Trail.
– Eau Claire Fire Department – Local fire department offering emergency response services in the area.
– Eau Claire Police Department – Law enforcement agency ensuring safety and security in the vicinity of the water trail.
– Sacred Heart Hospital – Full-service hospital equipped to handle emergencies and provide medical assistance near the water trail.

Chippewa River Water Trail Difficulty Notes

The Chippewa River Water Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for paddlers of all skill levels. The river features a mix of calm stretches and mild rapids, providing a balanced experience for both beginners and experienced paddlers. While some sections may require basic maneuvering skills to navigate around fallen trees or rocks, the overall flow of the river is relatively gentle, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals. However, it is important to note that water levels can fluctuate depending on weather conditions, which may increase the difficulty level during certain times of the year. Overall, the Chippewa River Water Trail offers a rewarding and enjoyable paddling experience for all adventure seekers.

Features And Attractions

1. Irvine Park and Zoo: Located in Chippewa Falls, Irvine Park offers beautiful scenic views along the Chippewa River. The park also features a zoo with various animals and picnic areas.

2. Big Falls County Park: This park is known for its stunning waterfall, which is the largest on the Chippewa River. It offers a great spot for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

3. Brunet Island State Park: Situated on an island in the Chippewa River, this state park offers scenic views, hiking trails, camping facilities, and opportunities for fishing and boating.

4. Lake Wissota State Park: Located near Chippewa Falls, this state park offers beautiful views of Lake Wissota, which is formed by a dam on the Chippewa River. The park features hiking trails, camping sites, and a swimming beach.

5. Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area: This area is known for its glacial features, including kettles, kames, and eskers. It offers hiking trails, camping facilities, and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

6. Cobban Bridge: This historic bridge spans the Chippewa River near Jim Falls. It is a popular spot for photography and offers a picturesque view of the river.

7. Cornell Dam: Located in Cornell, this dam creates a scenic waterfall on the Chippewa River. It is a popular spot for fishing and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

8. Chippewa River State Trail: This 30-mile trail follows the Chippewa River, offering scenic views and opportunities for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling.

9. Loopy’s Grill and Saloon: Situated along the Chippewa River in Chippewa Falls, Loopy’s offers a scenic outdoor patio where visitors can enjoy food and drinks while overlooking the river.

10. The Leinie Lodge: Located in Chippewa Falls, this visitor center for the Leinenkugel’s Brewery offers scenic views of the Chippewa River and provides information about the brewery’s history and beer-making process.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Chippewa River Water Trail. There are many more attractions and points of interest to explore along this beautiful river.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Chippewa River Water Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Campfires are only permitted in designated fire rings or grills.
3. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please pack out all trash and dispose of it properly.
4. Fishing is allowed on the water trail, but make sure to follow all state fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses.
5. Swimming is allowed in designated areas only. Pay attention to any posted signs or warnings.
6. Motorized boats are allowed on certain sections of the water trail. Check local regulations for specific restrictions.
7. Respect private property along the river and do not trespass.
8. Be mindful of seasonal restrictions, such as hunting seasons or water levels, which may affect access or safety on the water trail.
9. Practice Leave No Trace principles and minimize your impact on the environment.
10. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at specific access points or recreational areas along the Chippewa River Water Trail.

Seasonal Information

The Chippewa River Water Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of recreational activities such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The best times of the year to visit the water trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in.

During the spring season, typically from April to June, the Chippewa River comes alive with vibrant foliage and blooming wildflowers. This time of year is ideal for birdwatching as migratory birds return to the area. The river’s water levels are generally higher due to snowmelt and spring rains, making it perfect for kayaking and canoeing. However, it’s important to note that the water may be colder during this time, so appropriate gear is recommended.

Summer, from June to August, is the peak season for outdoor activities on the Chippewa River Water Trail. The weather is warm and sunny, making it an excellent time for swimming, tubing, and picnicking along the riverbanks. The water levels are generally lower, providing a more relaxed and leisurely experience for paddlers. It’s worth noting that summer weekends can be busier, so if you prefer a quieter experience, weekdays may be a better option.

As for seasonal closures, it’s important to be aware of the winter months from December to February. During this time, the Chippewa River Water Trail may experience freezing temperatures and ice formation, making it unsafe for water activities. Additionally, some access points and facilities along the trail may be closed or have limited services during the winter season. It’s always recommended to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on closures and conditions before planning your visit.

Overall, the Chippewa River Water Trail offers something for everyone throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the bustling activities of summer, or the peaceful solitude of fall, each season brings its own unique charm to this beautiful waterway.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the water trail entrance for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and sufficient space for maneuverability.
3. Accessible Launch Sites: Launch sites with ramps or accessible docks for easy wheelchair access into the water.
4. Accessible Trails: Paved or compacted trails alongside the water trail suitable for wheelchair users.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and grills for individuals with disabilities.
6. Accessible Fishing Piers: Fishing piers designed to accommodate wheelchair users, providing equal access to fishing opportunities.
7. Accessible Campsites: Campsites equipped with accessible features such as level ground, wider paths, and accessible fire rings.
8. Accessible Informational Signage: Signage along the water trail with braille, large print, or audio options for individuals with visual impairments.
9. Accessible Canoe/Kayak Rentals: Wheelchair-accessible rental facilities offering adapted canoes or kayaks for individuals with mobility impairments.
10. Accessible Shuttle Services: Shuttle services equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps to transport individuals with disabilities to different sections of the water trail.

Safety Information

1. Wear a life jacket: Always wear a properly fitted life jacket while on the Chippewa River to ensure personal safety in case of accidents or emergencies.
2. Check weather conditions: Before embarking on your journey, check the weather forecast to avoid unexpected storms or adverse conditions.
3. Be aware of river levels: Stay informed about the current river levels to gauge the water flow and potential hazards.
4. Know your limits: Assess your own skill level and choose a section of the river that matches your abilities to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
5. Avoid alcohol and drugs: Do not consume alcohol or drugs while on the river, as they impair judgment and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents.
6. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know your itinerary and expected return time, providing an extra layer of safety in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
7. Carry a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit with you to address minor injuries or medical emergencies that may occur during your trip.
8. Stay hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated throughout your journey, especially during hot weather conditions.
9. Protect yourself from the sun: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays while on the water.
10. Watch out for obstacles: Be cautious of fallen trees, rocks, or other obstacles in the river that may pose a risk to your safety.
11. Respect wildlife and vegetation: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife, avoid disturbing vegetation, and follow any guidelines or regulations in place to protect the ecosystem.
12. Practice proper paddling techniques: Learn and use proper paddling techniques to navigate the river safely and efficiently.
13. Be mindful of other river users: Respect other paddlers, anglers, or recreational users on the river, and maintain a safe distance to avoid collisions or conflicts.
14. Plan for emergencies: Carry a whistle, a waterproof phone case, and any necessary emergency equipment to be prepared for unexpected situations.
15. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and leave the river and its surroundings as you found them, respecting the environment and future visitors.

Conservation Notes

The Chippewa River Water Trail is a significant natural resource that plays a crucial role in the conservation of the surrounding ecosystem. The conservation status of the Chippewa River Water Trail is considered to be relatively stable, with ongoing efforts to protect and preserve its ecological integrity. The water trail is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered species, making its conservation of utmost importance.

Efforts to maintain the conservation status of the Chippewa River Water Trail involve various strategies. One key aspect is the implementation of water quality monitoring programs to ensure the river remains free from pollution and contaminants. This includes regular testing for nutrient levels, sedimentation, and the presence of harmful substances. Additionally, conservation organizations and local authorities work together to manage and control invasive species that can disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem.

Habitat restoration projects are also an essential part of the conservation efforts for the Chippewa River Water Trail. These projects focus on restoring and enhancing the river’s riparian zones, wetlands, and other critical habitats. By improving the quality and diversity of these habitats, conservationists aim to support the survival and reproduction of native species, contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Overall, the conservation status of the Chippewa River Water Trail is actively monitored and managed to ensure the long-term sustainability of its natural resources. Through ongoing efforts to protect water quality, control invasive species, and restore habitats, conservationists strive to maintain the ecological integrity of this important water trail.

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