Exploring the Green Circle Trail

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Offering diverse scenery and great outdoor activities year-round, the Green Circle Trail should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The trail is made up of a series of twelve connected routes which encircle the entire city of Stevens Point, passing sites that recall the city’s lumber history and early settlements. Twenty-six miles long with additional spurs and trails numbering an additional 20 miles, the Green Circle Trail offers a diverse landscape through city parks, forests and wetlands, waterfront vistas, and quiet urban neighborhoods. Try the full loop or a few sections at a time.

The trail is free, open for walking and jogging, biking in most sections except Whiting Park, and cross-country skiing by the Plover River and Iverson Park sections. Pets are allowed except in the University Trail section that runs through Schmeeckle Reserve (follow North Point Drive).

Parking is available in different places along the route, but the trail head is located near the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center. Find a map here and other information to get started, as well as restrooms and a gift shop. Trail signs are stationed along the route to mark the path.

Start your adventure anywhere along the trail, or at the trailhead at the start of the Brickyard Trail segment. This trail is adjacent to a historic brickyard. Bike through woods and across a wooden bridge, then continue on to the Stagecoach Trail, which follows the Old Wausau Road, or loop back through the Stevens Point Sculpture Park.

Bike along the Riverfront Trail to get stunning views of the Wisconsin River and continue onto the River Pines Trail. This scenic section passes through historic Echo Dells, as termed by former residents in the early twentieth century. Watch for the remnants of a stone fireplace built a hundred years ago. Or, take the Westside Loop on the opposite side of the river, a crushed granite trail that closely follows the water. See the paper mill dam and cut through the West River Park on narrow boardwalk.

The connecting Paper Mill Trail along the Plover River is an excellent bird-watching spot. Spots of interest are the long, arcing pedestrian bridge, Whiting Paper Mill site, and a historic stone spring house that was used by Neenah Paper to collect clear water for fine paper making.

Green-Circle-Trail-2Discover Indian mounds on the Whiting Park Walking Trail in Upper Whiting Park. Biking is not allowed on the Whiting Park Trail, but bikers can take the alternate Whiting Crossing (formerly Mainland Meadows) Trail through grassy meadows and quiet neighborhood roads.

A popular spur from this trail, to the five-mile Hoover Road Trail ending in Plover, connects to one end of the Tomorrow River State Trail, a 29-mile old railroad corridor which ends in Waupaca County (trail pass needed).

The 1.4-mile McDill Trail passes through neighborhoods and crosses the 260-acre McDill Pond, an impoundment of the Plover River formed by a dam and an excellent place to watch for waterfowl. The trail enters the wooded Plover River Park and climbs onto a ridge offering a stunning look of the pond below.

The paved Heartland Trail spur runs parallel to the Stevens Point railyard along Patch Street before running into the Hoover Road Trail. Otherwise, the McDill Trail connects to the Iverson Park Trail, which offers views of the Plover River backwaters. It passes through Iverson Park, the largest city park in Stevens Point. See historic stone structures built in the 1930s, including a beautiful stone bridge. In winter, ski on the groomed ski trail.

Plover River Trail runs a scenic 3.6 miles and follows the Plover River. There are over six miles of groomed ski trails in the winter. The trail runs through woods and past water. Rest at one of the benches or underneath the gazebo and watch for wildlife.

With the Moses Creek Trail, the circular journey is almost completed. The curving trail cuts through wet woodlands and sedge meadows, across wooded areas and Yulga Park. Its half-mile boardwalk is the longest on the Green Circle. The trail is an excellent bird-watching location and a quiet location. It’s also where the city gets its name, since Moses Creek created a “point” of land where George Stevens stored sawmill construction supplies by Moses Creek.

End your full-loop journey with the University Trail which runs through Schmeeckle Reserve, a beautiful nature preserve of the university, then congratulate yourself at having completed over 26 miles of route along the periphery of the city.

The Green Circle Trail is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., with the University Trail segment closing at sunset. The estimated time of biking the trail is three hours. For more information on trail activities and conditions, visit their website at greencircletrail.org.

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