CHIPPEWA FALLS — Construction of a new 12-mile ATV trail began this week in Chippewa County, and it should be substantially completed by May.
Currently, there is a 19-mile ATV trail in Chippewa County, county forester Mike Dahlby said. This new 12-mile loop begins west of Lake Holcombe and goes through the towns of Birch Creek and Cleveland. The paths feature 3 to 4 inches of crushed rock and gravel, with approximately 12-foot-wide surfaces plus ditches.
“We’ll have a loop that is a direct connection to the Lake Holcombe resort area,” Dahlby said. “We anticipate it will be regarded as one of the more scenic trails in the area.”
Dahlby said the new trail course was created with environmental protections in mind, as it goes around wetlands. It features eight miles through wooded property and at least four new bridges.
The cost is estimated at $480,000. The project received a $318,914 grant in 2016 from the state Department of Natural Resources. The DNR grant includes $8,400 annually for maintenance of the trail. Dahlby said ATV user fees generated the money used for the grants.
The Chippewa Valley ATV Council has agreed to maintain the entire 31-mile trail system, he said.
Plans to create the new loop began in 2012, he said, adding that Chippewa County has among the highest number of ATV owners in the state.
“There is an incredible public demand,” Dahlby said. “I’m excited about providing this to locals and tourists.”
In October, 1½ miles of the Ice Age Trail was relocated to make way for this ATV trail. Dahlby said a trail for horseback riding also still must be moved. He praised the groups for working together to make this ATV trail a reality.
“There has been really great coordination by the user groups,” he said.
Paul Krumenauer, president of the Chippewa Valley ATV Council, said there are 4,000 registered ATVs in the county alone.
“People are coming from all over to ride these trails,” Krumenauer said.
The terrain, with the hills and scenery, make this loop particularly attractive, he added.
“This trail extension has been in the works 20 years,” Krumenauer said. “When we started, this has always been a goal to get this loop in.”
Jackie Boos, Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce tourism director, said that out-of-town visitors on average spend $550 between hotel stays, restaurants and shopping when they come to Chippewa County to use ATV trails.
“When you see a trailer with ATVs pull up with Illinois license plates, that’s hundreds of dollars a day,” Boos said.
Visitors find other benefits here, such as lower hotel rates than larger cities, she added. And people know when they come to the trail system it will be open.
“It’s not the gamble of snowmobiling, which is so dependent on the weather,” Boos said.
Boos agreed that the new trail will be particularly attractive.
“The scenic aspect is amazing. It’s bringing you by waterways, streams and cornfields. It’s beauty at its best,” she said.
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