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Tag Archives: Red Cedar State Trail

When we woke up it was much colder our ant everything was covered with frost. We decided to drive down to the Red Cedar State Trail to do some skiing. We had 8 inches of snow the previous day so we were looking forward to a good ski. When we arrived at the Irvington Trail Head we found the trail had not been groomed. We decided to head south on the trail because there is usually some great frost along the river. We weren’t disappointed.

The foliage along the trail had a think coating of frost.

My wife encouraging me to hurry up with the picture taking because it was cold out.

We had to break trail most of the way. Someone had been skate skiing in the deep snow. That must have been a workout.

On the way back the sun came out.

A little wind and it was snowing frost.


It was a beautiful day to ski on the Red Cedar State Trail. We had 8 inches of new fluffy snow overnight and the sky was a bright blue. The tables at the visitors center were covered in was the bridge over the Gilbert Creek.

With the cold weather the ice was building up and was also covered in snow.

It was late in the afternoon and we met quite a few skiers on the trail. There were also some nice reflections on the Red Cedar River.

On the way back we heard some familiar sounds and saw a small flock of Trumpeter Swans land on the river.


I’ve been walking on the Red Cedar Trail the past few weeks. There is not a lot to photograph right now. Most of the summer flowers are gone so I’m waiting for the fall colors.

A few sunflowers are still around although most of them are looking a little straggly.

Most of the Touch-me nots are now gone.


I found this bindweed growing along the trail.

I liked the pattern on the top of this fence post.

Last week we went out skiing early in the morning several times. It was our last ski trips of the season. By noon it was way to warm to be skiing. We noticed this nest in the trees above the trail.


The Canada Geese were out enjoying the spring like weather.

The ice wall was still standing but quickly disappearing. We checked both of the Bald Eagle nests near the ice wall and neither on had nesting eagles.

It was a beautiful day on the trail.

The Touch-me-nots have been out along the Red Cedar State Trail. The insects seem to be enjoying them.

As winter arrived I started thinking of places and events that I wanted to photograph this winter. The events and bird photography require a little more planning than the Landscape Photography locations.

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Without a doubt the top of my list is the Apostle Islands Ice caves. I discovered them in 2007 and have photographed them every year they have been open. When I first started photographing them I was frequently the only person on the ice that day. What a difference social media makes. This past winter well over a hundred thousand people visited the caves in-spite of the bitterly cold winter. Given the temperatures we have been seeing so far this winter I would expect the ice caves will open again in February. If you haven’t been you should make the trip.



The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race will be taking place on February 7th and 8th. This is really a fun family event and one of the better sled dog races from a viewers point of view. It is possible to get up close to the dogs at the start of the races. Since it is an out and back race you can also stick around and watch the mushers return. They also have different levels of races from professionals to kids.

Off and Racing

Off and Racing


If you are really lucky, like we were last year, the Apostle Island Ice Caves will be open that weekend. You also may also be able to drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road while you are in the area.

Bond Falls

Although Bond falls is best known as a fall destination for photographers it provides some exceptional photography in the winter. There are not many waterfalls that are all that interesting to photograph in the winter. Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan is an exception. Most waterfalls in the Upper-Midwest are frozen in the winter. If there has been fresh snow they look like all of the other scenery. Bond falls is just below a dam it has water flowing all winter regardless of how cold it is. The flowing water combined with some interesting ice formations makes this one of my favorite winter photography locations.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Mississippi River

During the winter we make a number of trips over to the Mississippi River looking for eagles. Our first stop is usually Alma, Wisconsin where eagles hang out around the lock and dam. The National Eagle Center provides a weekly report of eagles seen along this section of the Mississippi River. They also provide eagle watching tours.

We then drive north to Reads Landing, Minnesota. We commonly see 30+ eagles in front of the Reads Landing Brewing Company. You can stop in the Brewery and watch the eagles in comfort while having lunch.

Our last stop is usually  in Colvill Park  Redwing, Minnesota where the eagles hang out near the open water below the power plant. The catch to watching eagles in the winter is the best time to find them gathered in large numbers is when there is a bitterly cold stretch of weather. This causes the Mississippi to freeze up and reduces access to open water.


Canadian Hill Farm

I can usually find something to photograph on the farm during the winter but most of my time is spent photographing birds during snow storms. There is nothing like hunkering down in the house with a roaring fire in the fireplace while sitting in my rocking chair and photographing birds.

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Hudson, Wisconsin

Hudson is a great place to watch Trumpeter Swans during the winter. With the successful reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans into the Midwest watching and photographing them has become a year around event. Trumpeter Swans don’t migrate in the winter they just move to the nearest open water. There is a small patch of open water in Hudson where they congregate in large numbers during the winter months. It is easy to get up close and photograph them.



Hudson is also where the Hudson Hot Air Affair is held every February. This is one of the few hot air balloon rallies in the area. It is well worth the trip to watch the inflation and flight of the balloons.

Hudson Hot Air Affair 14-2-_0710



Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls State Park is a favorite stopping point during the winter. Although in very cold weather the Amnicon River usually freezes there are times when I can find open water. The tannin tainted water car result in some colorful photos.

Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls

Horton Covered Bridge

Horton Covered Bridge

Red Cedar State Trail

In the winter most of the Red Cedar State Trail is a cross country ski trail so in order to photograph it you have to be willing to cross country ski. There are some beautiful ice walls along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. These are the result of water seepage through limestone rock.


On cold days the trees along the trail can be covered in heavy frost.



The southern portion of the trail is a walking trail in the winter and on a sunny day I like to photograph the Dunnville Stone in the late afternoon light.

Dunnville Sandstone

Dunnville Sandstone

Grand Marais, Minnesota

I like to make the trip to Grand Marais at least once every winter. I’m never quite sure what I’ll find. On one trip there were high waves washing over the breakwater and lighthouses.

West Breakwater Light

West Breakwater Light

At other times I love to take intimate shots of the ice formations that are formed when the water washes over the breakwater and then freezes into beautiful patterns.


Devil’s Punchbowl

I like to photograph at Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin in the winter. Water seeping through limestone rocks creates a massive ice wall in the bowl. There are also opportunities to photograph objects frozen in the ice.

Devil's Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl


My wife and I have been skiing the Red Cedar State Trail several times a week. We usually pick a different section of the trail to ski so we have skied all of the trail from Menomonie to Downsville.Red-Cedar-Trail-14-2-_0484

We have been seeing a lot of wildlife on the trail. On three different occasions we have seen a pair of eagles near the ice wall at the 1.5 mile mark of the trail. On one occasion they were on or near the nest across the Red Cedar River and on two other occasions they were sitting side by side in a tree above the ice wall.Bald-Eagles-14-2-_0482

We have been seeing a lot of ducks between Menomonie and Irvington. Most of the river is open in this area and it is one of the few portions with open water. We also saw a lone Trumpeter Swan paddling up the river. It was making quite a bit of noise. We also saw a couple of hawks in trees along the trail. One flew off then came back and flew right at us before landing in a three above us. It just sat and watches as we skied by.Red-Cedar-State-Trail-14-1-_0997

On two occasions we had fresh snow on the trail so we were skiing on what  were ungroomed trails. It was a lot of fun skiing through fresh snow.

I’ve had a number of opportunities to ski the Red Cedar State Trail in the past several weeks. The cold weather has allowed the ice along the trail to build up nicely. The ice wall is located at about the 1.5 mile mark on the trail and is about half way between the Menomonie trailhead and the Irvington trailhead. The sandstone cliffs at this section of the trail have a large seepage of water throughout the year. in the winter the water freezes resulting in a huge wall of ice. The minerals in the water give the ice wall a beautiful blue color particularly on a cloudy day .





There are a number of large ice walls near Menomonie, Wisconsin. This year, with the cold weather, they are growing quite large and are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. All of them are the result of water seeping through sandstone rock.

The largest ice wall is located along the Red Cedar State Trail. Unfortunately the trail is a ski trail in the winter so the only way to access it is to ski to the 1.5 mile mark on the trail. It can be accessed either from the Menomonie trailhead or the Irvington trailhead.


The second ice wall is located along a small stream that crosses Paradise Valley Road. Paradise valley Road is located on the west side and parallels the west side of the Red Cedar River. At the 1.2 mile mark you will find room to park a car along the road. The ice wall is a short walk up along an unnamed stream. I would suggest wearing ice cleats to access this ice wall because of the amount of ice at the base of the ice wall and because the stream is now a river of ice.


The third ice wall is located at Devil’s Punchbowl. Devil’s Punchbowl is located on the west side of Menomonie at the 1.8 mile mark on Paradise Valley Road. Access is from a small parking lot of the left side of the road. To reach the bottom of the bowl you must go down a long series of steps. The steps are usually ice covered as is the area around the base of the ice wall so I would suggest wearing ice cleats.


There are a variety of things to see along the trail. Keep in mind that the trail is not open to bikes so you will need to walk the trail. Please walk along side the trail so you don’t damage the trail surface while it is still wet.

At the 1.5 mile mark you can see eagles on their nest. Just past the first bridge, walking from Menomonie, you will encounter sandstone cliffs on the west side of the trail. These are the cliffs that form the ice wall in the winter.  Toward the south end of the cliffs if you look across the river you will see the nest near the top of a lone pine tree. Both parents were on the nest.You should bring your binoculars for a good view of the nest.

As mentioned on an earlier post the Skunk Cabbage is blooming just north of Irvington. Also at the Irvington Bridge I notice that a number of swallows have returned.

At the 4 mile mark on the trail in the wetlands I saw 8 Sandhill Cranes. They frequent this area throughout the summer and they just arrived from their winter home. If you listen you will hear them calling. Also noted in the area were some Pheasants and Turkeys.

 Recent photos from the trail.