McGilvray Bridges and Van Loon State Wildlife Area

The 4,000-acre Van Loon State Wildlife Area contains six historic McGilvray arch truss bridges over the Black River built circa 1892. Hiking the paths from one bridge to the next is a wonderful way to see the bottomlands as well as all of the region’s woodpecker species, Bald Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawks. The vast bottomlands offer year-round birding opportunities. In spring, high water in the Black River makes much of the land along Hwy. 53 impassable. However, the highway still offers good visual access to the landscape.

Directions: Take Hwy 53 north from Onalaska to Amsterdam Prairie Road to a parking lot for the McGilvray bridges. The trail from the first bridge to the sixth bridge and back is 3.7 miles in length. Van Loon can be accessed by foot or boat from numerous parking lots and a boat landing along Hwy 53.

Van Loon State Wildlife Area map

Gazatteer: Page 49, D-6 (prior to 10th edition). | Page 66, F-1 (10th edition).

Phone: 608/785-9000 (La Crosse WDNR).

Web site: Friends of McGilvray Road | WDNR Van Loon State Wildlife Area

Signature Species: Indigo Bunting and American Redstart Warblers.

Seasonality: Open all year.

Parking: Gravel parking lots.

Nearest food & lodging: Trempealeau, Onalaska & La Crosse.