Bunnel's Bluff in January 2017
Chicken Breast Bluff from Heald's Bluff
Perrot State Park is probably the only state park in Wisconsin to feature three summits with over 300 feet of prominence and nine named bluffs that I know of. I did not visit this state park until I had moved out of state but have made a trip to the park for my most recent three visits to my home state. Since my first my first visit in 2016 Perrot has become my favorite state park and hiking destination in the state. Wisconsin is certainly not a climbing destination and only has 71 ranked summits, but Perrot State park may have the most Summits of any Wisconsin state park. Eagle Bluff rises nearly 500 feet above the Mississippi River. They are Brady's Bluff, Perrot Ridge, Bald Knob, Reeds Peak, Bunnel's Bluff, Heald's Bluff, Eagle Bluff, Chicken Breast Bluff, and Trempealeau Mountain. Eagle Bluff is the highest at 1,190 feet while Brady's Bluff and Chicken Breast Bluff have the best views. Trempealeau Mountain is the most difficult summit to reach as it is almost an an island in the Mississippi River. Trempealeau literally means "mountain that soaks in water". Brady's Bluff is the most popular in the park with two trails leading to the summit. The west approach is shorter but steeper and the east approach is more gradual. Perrot Ridge and Reed's Peak also have trails to the summit while the rest are off trail. There are unofficial trails from Heald's Bluff to Chicken Breast and Eagle Bluff. Bunnel's Bluff appeared to have a trail but I did it in snow in early January. If attempting to do all of the bluffs in the park other than Trempealeau Mountain, I highly suggest visiting during the winter months to avoid heinous bushwhacking. It is possible to gain over 2,000 feet in elevation gain in one hike to summit all of the bluffs except Trempealeau Mountain. I did not do Bald Knob but I still ended up with approximately 2100 feet in elevation gain. Bald Knob is the least prominent bluff at 20 feet. Trempealeau Mountain is only accessibile during the spring, summer, or fall as it requires a boat to access the summit if approaching from the park. From the Trempealeau NWR it looks like it is possible to approach Trempealeau Mountain via a gravel road but the state natural area does not mention it as an access point. I have not done Trempealeau Mountain but it looks like it requires a three mile boat ride through the channels to reach the island from the boat launch site or a five mile hike from the wildlife refuge. Eagle Bluff has an impressive south face that can be seen from Trempealeau and is an easy walk from Chicken Breast Bluff and possibly from Little Bluff trail to the south but I have no information on the latter route. Brady's Bluff, Eagle Bluff, and Trempealeau Mountain have over 300 feet of prominence but the other bluffs are certainly worth doing.
Summits: Eagle Bluff 1190', Brady's Bluff - 1170', Perrot Ridge - 1157', Heald's Bluff - 1150+, Chicken Breast Bluff - 1150', Reeds Peak - 1110', Trempealeau Mountain - 1034', Bald Knob - 1010'
Take Highway 35 north from La Crosse and follow the signs to Perrot State Park. It is hard to miss.
From the north or northwest (from state park website), go south from Eau Claire on State Highway 93 about 53 miles. At Centerville, where Highway 93 turns east, go south on State Highway 35 (the Great River Road). Take Highway 35 about five miles to Trempealeau. In Trempealeau, Highway 35 becomes Main Street. Take Main Street south to First Street and turn right (west). In the park, First Street becomes South Park Road. Follow the signs to the park's various facilities and locations.
From the east or south (from state park website), take US Highway 53/State Highway 35 north from La Crosse. North of Holmen, turn left on Highway 35 where it splits from Highway 53. Take Highway 35 about eight miles to Trempealeau.
I started at the Perrot Ridge/Souteast Brady's Bluff Trailhead and to reach the summit of Perrot Ridge and Reed's Peak before following some cross country ski trail to a point in between Chicken Breast and Heald's Bluff. Bushwhack your way to the saddle between the two bluffs and head northwest to the summit of Heald's Bluff. Head south to Chicken Breast Bluff for a better view and then continue walking south on an unofficial trail to Eagle Bluff. I highly suggest hiking South of the summit for a better view before heading North back over the summit and bushwhacking your way back to the ski trail. Follow this trail to the north side of Bunnels Bluff and follow an unofficial trail to the summit. Then bushwhack your way back to the trail back to the trailhead. Take the Brady's Bluff trail to the summit. The longer southeast trail is still less than two miles but one could drive to the trailhead for the west approach to shorter the hike. Either approach is an easy out and back. My total mileage was 7.5 miles and approximately 2100' feet in elevation gain. While this hike may be a cakewalk in the west it is the most strenuous hike I have done in Wisconsin. During the winter I suggest using snowshoes or Yaktrax on the steeper trails as they can become quite icy. I did this route with winter boots and it was tricky to stay upright on the icy Brady's Bluff Trail. For Trempealeau Mountain launch a canoe and paddle through the channels to the island. The Trempealeau NWR shows a road that is open to the public but it is not mentioned as an access point to the state natural area so I suspect it might be closed off. During the summer the seven bluff route requires a lot of bushwhacking through some nasty thorns and probably poison ivy. I only did Heald's Bluff and Chicken Breast Bluff off trail in addition to Perrot Ridge and Brady's Bluff and ended up with lots of small cuts and at least 20 mosquito bites.
The last I checked there was a $7.00 daily fee to enter the park or an annual pass. During the winter most of the trails are cross country ski only except for Brady's Bluff, Reed's Peak, and Perrot Ridge.
Camping is available at the park for a fee. The price depends if the site has electrical hookups.