Biking Half Moon Lake
I’m always looking for things for us to do as a family that will get us outdoors. As my children get older the more things, we are able to do. For instance, our family likes to go on hikes. But taking kids that are under the age of 5 on long all-day hikes aren’t an option. But as our kids get older, we are able to hike longer without having to worry about cranky kids. We’ve pushed our kids a few times and learned our lesson quickly. Like our snowshoeing adventure when we were planning to just to a 4k and wound up doing a 6k. We quickly had three tired and upset girls halfway through the hike.
As my kids grow, so do our options for getting outdoors as a family. We may take a more challenging trail on a hike or even venture off trail. We’re able to go farther and longer during our outings, which makes the out that much more enjoyable. Adding new activities is something I try to do as much as I can as well. Allowing my kids to experience as many new things that this state has to offer is all part of the fun for me. That’s why our most recent outing was a lot of fun for our whole family. We decided it was time to take our first biking adventure.
My family has been wanting to take a biking trip for a while now, but our girls just weren’t ready for it yet. Our two oldest have been riding around out yard getting familiar with their bikes for last year. Our youngest has a smaller bike and still uses trailing wheels. So, we were hesitant to get them out on a trail only to find out that it was too much for them and then my wife and I would have to figure out how to not only get their bikes back but ours as well. We waited until we felt the time was right and our kids were strong enough to handle a simple trail. Once we knew they were ready, we started looking for a trail that we could all ride and enjoy. The trick was going to be my youngest, she is still on training wheels so any off road or soft trails were not going to work. We looked at a variety of trails throughout the state including the Red Cedar Trail in Menominee but were worried about the distance of that trail.
Our search ended with a visit to Eau Claire to see some relatives. They were familiar with a bike trail that travels around the Half Moon lake right in the middle of Eau Claire. It offered mostly paved bike trails, which was perfect for our youngest, and had a few steep inclines and declines to challenge the older kids.
We started our bike trip at Phoenix Park, which is located in the center of the city along the banks of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers. It’s a beautiful park with plenty of space to enjoy a picnic or just sit and people watch. On our visit, we packed a picnic lunch and watched as people were floating down the river in kayaks and inner tubes. After a little duck watching, we put away our cooler and got our bikes to hit the trail. The trail isn’t marked that well, but there were plenty of other bikers riding that we were able to figure it out. I had also downloaded a map on my phone to help us navigate.
As you enter the what is part of the Chippewa River State Trail heading towards Half Moon Lake, you cross the Chippewa river using what I’m guessing is an old railroad bridge. I thought it was a great way to start our trip, however my daughters and wife were a little nervous. But as we made our way across, you’re able to see a beautiful view of the river and all the people enjoying it.
The trail continues through a small part of town heading to halfmoon lake. There wasn’t a lot of traffic for a weekend and that made it nice for the kids to not worry about that. I would image during the week this area might be a bit busier because of a nearby hospital and other small businesses.
As you reach Half Moon Lake, we came to a point where we could have taking the trail into Carson Park of stay on the Chippewa River State Trail a little longer. We decided to stay on the State Trail and come back through Carson Park.
The Chippewa River Trail along Half Moon Lake, was filled with trees and the occasional gap where you could see the lake. For the most part your biking along with houses on one side and a tree line bordering the lake on the other. It was a quiet and pleasant ride. At about halfway, we came to a shelter and information area. It also had a skate park available for use and a dock where you could walk out and see the lake. We stopped for a short break to allow my youngest to rest and enjoyed the view.
We continued around the lake and into one of the entrances of Carson Park where our ride took to a more wooded and forest feel. There were also more inclines and declines to challenge us a bit more. This part of the trail, is not part of the Chippewa River Trail but a separate trail that goes through Carson Park and past the ball field. On our day, there was no ball games being played so that made for less traffic that when an event might be taking place. The trial continues by crossing over Half Moon Lake and reconnected to the Chippewa River Trail to where we started alongside of the lake. We took the same route back through town, over the bridge and back to Phoenix Park. We ended our day with some ice cream at a local ice cream shop.
Over all we traveled just under 4 miles and it took our family almost an hour. It was really a great trail for our first ride. It was mostly paved with only a few areas where we can to cross the streets. We experienced a bridge over water, going through a short tunnel and spending time viewing the lake. My kids got to experience bike riding like it was meant to be and not just going back and forth in our long driveway. We all laughed and really had a good time. Although the promise of ice cream at the end did encourage them a little. But I think we are all hooked on biking now and will look for our next trail. We’ll probably stick to more trails like this for a while or at least until our youngest ditches the training wheels.
The thing that I want you to take away from this, is that there are many opportunities to get your family or yourself outdoors. No matter what your skill level, there is something for everyone. If you know your limits, you’ll be able to find something that will not only get you out, but something you’ll enjoy. Do some exploring in your area and throughout the state. You’ll be surprised at what you find and what’s out there to help you become one of Wisconsin’s Outdoor Explorers.