La Crosse River Trail Prairies, SNA #184 (229/679)

La Crosse River Trail Prairies includes 2 segments of dry-mesic and dry pairie along the La River State Trail straddling the La Crosse-Monroe county line.  The trail can be accessed at numerous points including from Bangor to the west, Sparta to the east, or Rockland in the center.  I parked on E May Street in Rockland, just southeast of the intersection of the trail with CTH J.  Walk 1/2 mile east and from that point, the natural area spans nearly 4 miles east along the trail.  Alternatively, walk west less than 1/10 mile to reach the beginning of a 2 mile stretch of the natural area.  Note that a state trail pass is required to bike the trail, but walking is free of charge.

Prairies in former railroad grades have been hit-or-miss in terms of quality so far in this journey.  I would place this site in the average to slightly above average range.  It contained wider areas of prairie than most I have visited and though it did not have particularly rare species, it lacked significant amounts of invasives which is unusual for a trail prairie.  Species observed here included black-eyed susan, wild bergamot, and whorled and common milkweeds.  Several monarchs flitted about and I was able to take some decent photographs as one nectared on the whorled milkweed in the golden hour.  From here, the adventure continued as I made my way further west.

More of my photos (and full-res) from La Crosse River Trail Prairies can be viewed here.

Additional Information

SNA # 184
County La Crosse, Monroe
Natural Communities / Geology Dry-Mesic Prairie, Dry Prairie
Size (Acres) 70
Parking Roadside
Trails Yes
Easy to Find Yes
Best Seen By Foot
Marked Boundaries No
Ownership Wisconsin DNR
Located Within
Dates Visited 7.29.11

La Crosse-Monroe
La Crosse & Monroe Counties

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