7 Bridges-McGilvray Rd Hiking Trail

McGilvray (7 Bridges) Road hiking trail is located in northwest La Crosse County, Wisconsin, in the Van Loon Wildlife Area. It is notable in that it is both historically significant and located within a rare floodplain forest.

Located on the former vehicular road is a unique combination of five rare bowstring arch truss bridges and one low truss bridge. The bowstring arch truss bridges are over 100 years old. The McGilvray Road Truss Bridge Group is listed on the Wisconsin State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The trail is located in the Van Loon Wildlife Area, a beautiful bottom-land forest/wetland area in the delta of the Black River above where it meets the Mississippi River. Portions of the trail flood during infrequent periods of high water. The Friends of McGilvray Road website provides information on checking the river stage before visiting to determine what parts of the trail will be flooded. This can range from slightly wet to more than a couple of feet depending upon the river level.

Some of the recreational activities along the 1.8 mile long trail include: hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and fishing [Flora and Fauna pictures-link].  Additional activities are found in the surrounding Van Loon Wildlife Area. The McGilvray trail and bridges have been maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of McGilvray Road since 1989.

There are no developed facilities at this site except for a picnic area and parking lot and steps. The trail is often used by locals, and one is likely to encounter only a few visitors.  The parking lot entrance is located at N8327 Amsterdam Prairie Road, Holmen WI 54636.  (Some on-line maps may label Amsterdam Prairie Road as County XX north of Hwy 35.)

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Latitude: 44.021477 Longitude: -91.30593 Elevation: 712 ft

Vertical Gain or Loss

The trail is unpaved. It is basically level with a few shallow dips in the trail where gravel has been placed over larger rock, and the surface is a little uneven

Trail Distance

3.6 miles round trip

Accessibility Notes

There are several steps down from the parking lot which can be bypassed on a dirt maintenance path that has a grade of about 8%.

Pet Friendly Notes

The trail is a popular local dog walking area and dogs must be leashed April 15 through July 31.

Owners are encouraged to clean up after their pets.


A favorite place to be...

Nancy Hill, 3/9/2016

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