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.
|County||La Crosse, Monroe|
|Natural Communities / Geology||Dry-Mesic Prairie, Dry Prairie|
|Easy to Find||Yes|
|Best Seen By||Foot|