Hudson, Wis. –– America’s largest celebration of trails on the first Saturday of June provides an ideal opportunity to explore the St. Croix Valley Art Bench Trail. The seven art benches on the trail are all located near high-quality hiking and biking routes, making each one an excellent destination to exercise while enjoying public art and public lands. For directions to the art benches and ideas for activities to do while visiting the benches, go to www.artbenchtrail.org.
“We encourage people to explore the St. Croix Valley bench-by-bench this summer, and on National Trails Day, also explore it trail-by-trail,” says Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director at The Phipps Center for the Arts. “The Art Bench Trail is made up of scenic rural routes on both sides of the St. Croix River, and connects not just the benches but many of our best hiking trails.
The Art Bench Trail launched the weekend of May 2 – 4 with a festival welcoming migratory birds back to the St. Croix Valley. The trail includes seven community art projects in towns from St. Croix Falls to Prescott. Each bench celebrates the area’s nature, history, and close-knit communities. Learn more about exploring the trail at www.artbenchtrail.org.
National Trails Day seeks to organize the United States’ many trails into a connected network. It is organized by the American Hiking Society and many local people and organizations to celebrate the nation’s trail system. More information is available at http://www.americanhiking.org/national-trails-day/.
Trails near the art benches include everything from paved walking paths to rugged hiking routes. The art benches are designed as places to rest and reflect, a perfect picnic spot after exploring the area by foot. The Art Bench Trail offers the following suggestions:
Freedom Park, Prescott, Wis. (Butterfly Bench)
Stroll along the St. Croix on the city’s River Walk, which also connects with other hiking and biking trails, or explore Magee Wilderness Park, 13 acres of undeveloped land open for walking and wildlife viewing.
Carpenter Nature Center, Minn. (Junior Girl Scout Nature Bench)
The nature center is open to the public and offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails, including three-and-a-half miles paved for child strollers and people with mobility limitations.
Hudson, Wis. (River Bench)
Willow River State Park offers 13 miles of hiking trails, including the short but steep walk to Willow Falls, a famous cascade in a 200-foot deep gorge.
Bayport, Minn. (Kindness is Key)
The 48-acre Barker’s Alps Park has several wooded walking trails along its bluffs, and a scenic community garden and labyrinth.
Somerset, Wis. (Two-River Rest)
Parnell Prairie Preserve features mowed walking paths through restored prairie, with many birds, butterflies and flowers to be seen.
Marine on St. Croix, Minn. (Settler’s Rest)
Walk along the river or in the prairie at William O’Brien State Park. There are more than 12 miles of trails available, including the accessible Riverside Trail.
St. Croix Falls, Wis. (Rock and River)
The self-proclaimed “City of Trails” offers several opportunities, including the Gaylord Nelson Riverwalk, where the community’s Art Bench is located. Other popular paths include the Indianhead Flowage Trail, and the Esker segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Just south of town is Interstate State Park with more than nine miles of hiking trails.
The Art Bench Trail is a tourism and community-building project organized by The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, in partnership with the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and the St. Croix Valley Foundation. Between 2006 and 2011, seven art benches were created collaboratively, partnering youth, artists, businesses, towns, and other members of communities to create unique works exploring our connection with the St. Croix Valley’s nature, history, and culture. The Art Bench Trail is made possible with support from the Kresge Foundation.
For further information, contact Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director, at 715.386.2305, ext. 103.