Trail Sections — River Pines Trail

  • Length:

    3.7 miles

  • Surface:

    Hard-packed crushed granite trail and boardwalks (along river), paved roads & sidewalks (north)

  • Activities:

    Hiking, jogging, biking, pets

  • Parking:

    Parking lot on south side of Sherman Ave. (south), downtown Stevens Point (north)

The River Pines Trail extends from the Village of Whiting in the south (parking lot on south side of Sherman Ave.) to the Highway 66 bridge over the Wisconsin River near downtown Stevens Point in the north. The majority of the trail meanders through natural forest and over wetlands as it follows the Wisconsin River shoreline. One of the most scenic portions of the Green Circle, this section offers views of rocky outcroppings, islands, large white pine and oak trees, and incredible sunsets. A short portion near downtown follows sidewalks along Water Street, where several historic houses stand.

River Pines Trail


The Scenic Beauty of Echo Dells

Remnant of George Nelson's chimney
Remnant of George Nelson’s fireplace in Echo Dells

Just north of the Stevens Point Care Center, watch for an old stone foundation on the east side of the trail. In the early 1900s, this scenic area was known by Stevens Point residents as Echo Dells, popular for picnicking, camping, and hiking. Andrew M. Nelson started a summer colony here made up of several cottages. George Nelson, Andrew’s nephew, built his summer home here in 1911. George was a local attorney who later became a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice (Nelson Hall on the UWSP campus is named for him). The pile of rocks along the Green Circle are remnants of George Nelson’s fireplace. In 1921, George called for the creation of a park to preserve Echo Dells, calling it “one of the choicest beauty spots and one of the few remaining tracts of virgin timber left in central Wisconsin.” The next year, Echo Dells was sold to the Wisconsin River Paper & Pulp company for flowage rights. Most cottages were removed, but the remnants of some serve as reminders of the past. The beauty of the area continues to beckon visitors today.

Westside Loop Alternative

At the County Hwy. HH intersection (traveling north), instead of staying on the River Pines Trail, you can cross the bridge over the Wisconsin River and follow the marked Westside Loop (2.4 miles) as an alternative route.

Birding Information (Site #6)

The River Pines Trail is the best place to wander along the Wisconsin River and enjoy waterfowl, birds of the tall timber, marshland inhabitants, and perhaps even stop and catch a smallmouth bass. Starting from the parking lot south of Sherman Avenue (south) or at the Stevens Point Water Treatment Plant on the end of Mill Street (north) this section demands a leisurely pace. It is best to walk from one end to the other and then return to your starting place. If one starts at the Water Treatment Plant, it is easy to cross the bridge on Highway HH and continue following the Westside Loop. This will make a total trip of approximately 4 miles back to the starting point.

The southern portion of the trail meanders through gorgeous, mature white pines and over two wetland boardwalks. These white pines have Pine Warblers in them in summer and Brown Creepers in winter. This is also an excellent area to spot Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Early in the spring the trail along the river is an ideal place to see migrating Common Loons, Trumpeter Swans, Wood Ducks, coots, mallards, mergansers, and golden eyes plus Belted Kingfishers. Eagles and ospreys use this section as prime fishing grounds. One can find Wild Turkeys roosting in the pinewoods and nesting in nearby oak woods areas. Woodland birds, including nuthatches, Pileated, Hairy, and Downy Woodpeckers, chickadees, Ovenbirds, waxwings and orioles, can be observed on a regular basis. Be sure to stop at the Highway HH Bridge and take in the summer colony of an estimated 2,000 nesting Cliff Swallows.

A short section of the trail meanders along a marsh area where occasional rails, Swamp Sparrows, wrens, Northern Waterthrush, and a variety of warblers can be found along the way. June and July are prime times for viewing these species.

Late evenings offer an opportunity to hear Great Horned and Barred Owl calls echoing across the river. Additionally, Cedar Waxwings put on quite a display feeding on mayflies coming from the surface of the river. Mosquitoes are to be expected. No matter what you are looking for, this is a relaxing, pleasant section on which birders can spend a couple of hours enjoying riverfront nature. Be careful in high water conditions as this section occasionally floods.


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