Trail Trek Challenge Hike of the Month
August is an ideal time to visit the New Amsterdam Grasslands. The nesting season for grassland birds has passed, and the larger trail loop is now open for walking. This beautiful property is located just a few miles northwest of Holmen nestled off of U.S. Hwy. 53 at the WI Hwy. 35 exit. The property offers accessible hikes through gentle terrain, perfect for the dog days of summer. It won’t take much time to discover why Mississippi Valley Conservancy has recognized this outdoor recreational resource as one of our most important natural areas to protect in the region.
Choose from two different paths along the perimeter of this 310-acre site. A short trail, open year-round, offers an easy 1.1 mile hike around a lower corner of the grasslands. Park your car (or bike) at the lot at W7900 Old Cty. Hwy. NA to start the loop. From August-March a second connected loop around the remaining perimeter of the grasslands is open to the public, offering an additional 2.8 miles of hiking. This loop can also be entered through a wooden gate across the street from N7555 Rotterdam Ave in Holland, WI.
This longer loop is closed during nesting season (April-July) to protect critical nesting habitat for for rare grassland birds, including the state-threatened Henslow’s sparrow and Bell’s vireo. Starting in August, you can get a rare glimpse of this restored grassland. The well-maintained trail has just enough elevation to provide stunning views of an open sea of indigenous grasses and wildflowers dotted with dragonflies, butterflies, and birds. Be sure to bring your binoculars and a camera.
Along the way
Make a day of your trek and visit the locally-owned restaurants and shops of Holmen and Onalaska, both quick stops along Hwy. 53 and 35. Whatever your taste or budget, you’ll find plenty of options along the main drags of these communities. In Holmen you’ll find classic burgers and sundaes at Mary’s North Drive-In and wonderful curries and pho at Taste of Thai. In Onalaska enjoy authentic Italian cuisine at Angelini’s Pizzeria & Ristorante or modern comfort food at David Reay’s.
Looking to double your challenge? The Holland Sand Prairie is just a five-minute drive from the New Amsterdam Grasslands. Discover the subtle differences between these grassland and prairie preserves and complete two different Trail Trek Challenge hikes in one afternoon.
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We thank these generous supporters of the 2019 Trail Trek Challenge:
Organic Valley, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, WKBT/News Channel 8, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Altra Federal Credit Union, Crawford County Community Fund, People’s Food Cooperative, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Kwik Trip, Trust Point, Inc., Verve-a Credit Union, and Viroqua Area Foundation