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City tries to keep up with marking bluff trails

LA CROSSE, WI - There have been three bluff rescues this summer in La Crosse.

Two of them were in restricted areas.

One woman said she didn't see any marker to warn her that she was off the trail.

But keeping miles and miles of trail marked clearly is a big project.

While much of the bluff land in La Crosse is open to the public, many of the trails are not city-designated.

They pop up from deer or people wanting to blaze their own trails, which makes it extra difficult for the city to ensure every trail is marked appropriately.


The bluff trails are a major attraction in La Crosse.

"I do like to come up to the trail and get a good view, enjoy nature for a little bit," said Stoddard man Karl Tully.

Tully lives in Stoddard but comes up to hike the Hixon Forest whenever he can.

But for new hikers, navigating the many trails can be a challenge.

"It seems like I run into people a lot who are like, 'Where are we? Do you know where I can go?' it's just kind of difficult for some people to find their way around," said Tully.

Jay Odegaard with the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department said the Hixon Forest trails are inspected about every week.

And while they work hard to keep signs up on the trails, there's simply no way to keep up with all the different paths people create.

Odegaard said they put branches at the base of a trail they're trying to close, but just a few feet away a new trail making a route to the trail they're trying to close has already popped up.

"I think we can do diligence with keeping our end up as far as signage and temporary fencing but in reality we can't patrol the entire acreage of city forest land and we can't we can't stop people from doing it," said Odegaard.

Odegaard said the best way to stay safe is to pay attention to where you are and follow the maps provided at the trail heads.

"It's be smart and follow the trails," said Odegaard.

The city said they're trying to shut down some of the really steep trails because these tend to be more dangerous.

They're working on building some new ones that won't erode as badly and give people a safer hiking experience.

Last week, 22-year-old Zachary Nelson fell 70 feet from the bluff on Rim of the City road.

He remains in critical condition.

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