Lovely Local Locales: Hoffman Hills

Barbara Young

I have to be honest with you. I was ready to post a cool DIY shelving/storage tip for this week, but then I took an adventure to Hoffman Hills and knew this story had to come first.

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So, Hoffman Hills. Most people who have been around UW-Stout for a while are familiar with this state recreation area northeast of Menomonie. You hear about things like a tower and hiking and hills (duh), but that’s about it.

I was curious. My Monday morning class was canceled, so instead of sleeping (I know, this is me being weird) I decided I would find these fabled Hoffman Hills and go for a hike. Let me tell you. It. Was. So. Worth. It.

RoadMap

First of all, getting to Hoffman Hills is really pretty simple, once you know where you’re going. Don’t trust your GPS to have it as an entry. Mine didn’t, but I thought it did because there is a place in River Falls called Hoffman Park. Not the same place. Don’t leave Menomonie in the direction of Hudson. Trust me.

Instead, look up the actual instructions on the Hoffman Hills website. These are much more helpful.

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This is my car. Alone in the parking lot. It was amazing.

Once you actually get to the hills, be prepared to be amazed. Also, go this week or this weekend while the fall colors are still vibrant and beautiful. You will be glad you did.

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When you drive in, park in the main or overflow parking lots. The main lot has a giant map and a little box full of maps you can take along on the hike. These aren’t really necessary because there are signs everywhere on the trails, but it never hurts to have a map.

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My main goal of the trip was to get to the top of the tower, so I took one of the most direct routes, but there are tons of different paths.

Guys. This place is so beautiful. I can’t begin to explain it to you, so here – look at these pictures. I haven’t edited any of them, besides cropping.

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See what I mean?

I was super lucky because I was the only person in the hills when I arrived (the perks of being awake Monday mornings).

Let me tell you, though, don’t go there if you want a date where you just look cute and stroll casually about. That’s what the Red Cedar Trail is for. While the hills don’t offer an extreme workout, most routes require some climbing. The trails offer various levels of difficulty and are rated on the maps.

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When I reached the tower I was beyond excitement. I’d been strolling about the woods for nearly 30 minutes and was already overwhelmed by the natural beauty. I couldn’t even imagine what it was going to look like from above.

I climbed up the observation tower, pausing at each level. The second level puts you above most of the trees and gives you a treetop view, but the third and final level kung-foo kicks the breath out of you.

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I really think if a person could see that view every day of their lives they wouldn’t ever be unhappy. No way, no how. These pictures don’t do it justice.

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So go and check it out. The hills are about 25 minutes from Menomonie. If you take the shortest path, it only takes about another 20 minutes to hike to the tower.

You can even make a day of hiking about the hills and enjoy a break at one of the picnic sites. Bonus: there are also outhouses.

If you want details, visit the website, http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/hoffmanhills/.

Have a great week Stout!

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