Along the Mississippi River, just outside of Trempealeau, WI, is Perrot State Park. Named after Nicholas Perrot, an early French explorer in the area, the park spans over 1270 acres of river, bluffs, and wetlands. The park offers a variety of activities for guests, including hiking, biking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and winter activities.
Hiking: The park has 12.5 miles of trail inside the park. Many of these trails also connect to trails that run outside of the park, including the Great River State Trail, which runs 24 miles through the area. Throughout the day, we hiked about 7 miles on several different trails.
East Brady’s Bluff Trail
Positives: Beautiful views
Negatives: Trail was skinny at times with sharp drop offs
Brady’s Bluff has 3 trails that lead up to the overlooks, from the east, west, and north. We took the East Brady’s trail, which begins in the East Brady’s parking lot. While this trail was longer than the others, this option was more actual trail instead of wooden steps. As the bluff peaks at 520′, the trail is mostly uphill. It winds along the outside of the bluff, offering incredible views the majority of the way. The trail is steep at times, and gradual at others. The trail becomes very skinny in sections and boarders steep drops. Even though the trail is only 7/10 of a mile, it took a while to complete.
At the top of the bluff, there is a stone structure built by the former owners of the land. If you read into the history of the building, you will learn it was built by mules bringing the stone up the bluff. Having just climbed that way without stone, that seemed amazing. While we did not see any, we later learned that another park guest saw a large rattlesnake on this part of the trail. They are common to the area but not common to the trails.
From the top of the bluff, we took a different trail down in order to connect with the trail to the other bluff. The North Brady’s Bluff Trail quickly moves away from the edge of the bluff, and the scenic views, into the forest. From the bluff, the trail quickly dropped into the valley and became very steep and slippery at times. Upon reaching the bottom, it leveled out, widened, and became much easier. This trail connected to another trail, the Perrot Ridge Trail, which leads up to the other bluff in the park, Perrot Ridge.
Perrot Ridge Trail
Length: 1.5 miles
Positives: Beautiful views, well kept path for most of the trail
Negatives: Difficult and unclear trail to bluff overlook
From the connecting ski trail, the trail begins with a sign. If you aren’t looking for it, this sign could be easily missed and you would continue on wider ski trail.
Once beginning the Perrot Ridge Trail, it instantly becomes difficult. The trail is short and quickly travels to the 507′ height of the bluff. The path itself varies and is at times rock steps, root steps, sandy hill, and large rocks that require some minor climbing to get up (if you’re short like me.) The views are worth it. The bluff offer views of the river, the surrounding countryside, and the other bluff.
The trail down loops around the back of the bluff into the forest. This part of the trail was very pleasant. It dipped into the valley and sometimes fell between two valleys, with steep hills on either side. This is where I saw the most wildlife, a variety of birds and plants. At one point, I smelled the spray of a skunk. There was even a little stone bridge over a valley that looked like something out of a fairy tale.
Length: 2.5 miles
Positives: Views of the river
Negatives: Trail is easy to lose, view sometimes blocked by a parked train
The Riverview Trail begins at the campground and travels all the way to the edge of the park and beyond. It goes into the neighboring town and is a popular walk around dinner time as it goes to a supper club, Sullivan’s.
The Riverview Trail is best described as choppy and segmented. In places, it is very well marked and easy to follow. Sometimes, however, it runs through parking lots and is unclear where it picks up again. When you can find the trail, it is a nice walk that travels close to the river. Upon curving towards the park entrance, the trail moves further inland as there are train tracks that runs parallel to the trail, between the trail and the river. There was a train parked on the tracks blocking the view of the river. I’m not sure how common this is, but it was there for the entirety of our two day stay.