Chippewa Valley bikers now have new land to take advantage of with the opening of a long in the works project.
The Lake Hallie bike trail alongside and near Wisconsin Hwy. 178 is open for business in the Village of Lake Hallie after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon put on by the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce and area officials. The trail connects previously disconnected trails in Chippewa Falls, Lake Hallie and Eau Claire.
Village of Lake Hallie President Gary Spilde said the newly opened trail is one area residents have been clamoring for after years of not being able to take advantage of all of the trails abundantly placed throughout the Chippewa Valley.
“This certainly solves the issue of people not being able to bike through here before,” Spilde said. “It’s been pretty difficult when they come through here and have had to stop. Now they can continue right on through to Cornell basically or Durand if they’re going south. I think it really fills a need that people wanted.”
Spilde said this project has been in the works for many years before it came to fruition Thursday. A previous attempt to build a similar trail fell through after the court order was approved, but new funds and planning helped the new location succeed.
While working closely with the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, the village of Lake Hallie was able to secure 80% of the funding for the trail through federal funds. The cost of the trail was just over $500,000, with the remaining 20% of the funds being fronted by the city of Chippewa Falls, which headed all of the engineering and plans for the trail on its road to completion.
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Now that the trail is open to the public, Spilde said the goal is to get as many area bikers, runners and walkers to use it as possible.
“Use the trail,” Spilde said. “We would like to see a lot of usage on the trail. We’re happy that we can be a part of it as a village. To see it get accomplished, like I’ve said, it’s been a long road, but we’re done and it is great to see it open.”
Jackie Boos, tourism director for the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce, said she is thankful to see the new trail open and said it will be of great benefit to the Chippewa Valley.
“This is going to be another great point of attraction for us,” Boos said. “Not only with our vlogging and our maps, but our social media and getting our guests to know that they can come into two great communities, make a stop in Hallie and continue on their way. We’re just really proud of this.”
While the new Lake Hallie bike trail continues the trend of connecting more areas together via the two-wheeled transport, more of the Chippewa Valley will be connected next spring when Chippewa Falls completes construction on another bike trail near Park Avenue.