LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – For many people, a crisp autumn day is an ideal time to go for a hike.
But a few trails at Hixon Forest are blocked off and won't re-open until the spring.
WisCorps Operations Director Willie Bittner knows why.
"The TNT Trail was unsafe," he said. "You had bikers and hikers going up and down the trail at the same time. So when a biker was coming down the trail and a family was walking up the trail, they were basically like bowling pins for the biker cruising down the hill very quick."
The trail is also coated in rocks, prone to a lot of erosion, and hikers have made – what Bittner calls – "rogue trails" along the way.
"(Some trails) should not be here," Bittner said, pointing out a "rogue trail."
"This trail is eroded out two to three feet deep. This is from people hiking time and time again," Bittner said.
After a federal grant, city money and donations, the Parks and Recreation department teamed up with WisCorps for about a $94,000 project to revamp the trails.
"Most the trails really hadn't been touched since they were built back in the '70s," said WisCorps Executive Director Matthew Brantner.
Brantner said this project's about improving user experience.
"(It's) to make the trails more sustainable and user friendly and more comfortable for the folks that come out and use them," Brantner said.
Part of the project funds the Vista Trail, a new path being built by Bittner.
It's about 2.5 miles long, built to handle erosion, bikers and hikers, and has a handful of look-out spots along the way, Bittner said.
"I'm extremely excited. I've been working on it nights and weekends and a lot of time during the day for the past – over a year actually constructing the trail," he added.
Another part of the funds will go toward adding trail signs.
"(Currently you could) have no idea where you're going in the forests. You can get lost," Brantner said.
Bittner said the trails could either be marked by colors, animals or a combination of the two. There will also be maps where the trails intersect.
The Vista trail will open at the beginning of June.
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