Posted 7:05 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020

Wilder Way, a main artery of the Grandad Bluff Trail Project that opened in October, was named for Emma Lou Wilder. Wilder taught physical education and recreation on campus for more than three decades.

New Grandad trails remember UWL’s Emma Lou Wilder

Hikers and bikers stepping onto the newest Grandad Bluff trails can take a trip down memory lane on a path named for a regional recreational icon — one with direct UWL ties.

Wilder Way, named for Emma Lou Wilder, who taught physical education and recreation on campus from 1921-56, is a main artery of the Grandad Bluff Trail Project that opened in October.

Emma Lou Wilder, who taught at UWL from 1921-56, was known for her pioneering work in women’s physical education and help with developing the women’s physical education curriculum and the recreation major. The woman known for her fitness encouragement slogan, “Run a block, walk a block,” had a new trail on Grandad Bluff named for her.

The names for the eight trails were crafted by a community survey and a board of citizens.

"We used a group of community members, various individuals and families to generate a list of names for the potential trails that were put up on the bluffs," Jed Olson with Outdoor Recreation Alliance told the La Crosse Tribune.

The board selected Wilder for her many years of advocating women’s recreation and exercise not only on campus, but also in the community.

Known for her pioneering work in women’s physical education, Wilder taught 25 different physical education courses, along with helping develop the women’s physical education curriculum and the recreation major. She enjoyed sports, especially ice skating at Pettibone Park, and was known for her fitness encouragement slogan, “Run a block, walk a block.”

The university’s first college-owned dormitory was named for her when it opened in 1952. Wilder Hall was converted into office space and housed several academic support units and ROTC unit May 2009, when it was razed to make room for Centennial Hall. [See more.]

The other new trail monikers include:

  • “Xee xete,” Ho-chunk meaning mountain.
  • “Ni Tani,” Ho-chunk meaning three rivers.
  • “War Eagle,” honoring the steamboat that burned and sank at the mouth of the Black River in 1870.
  • Tramway, honoring the streetcar rail system that used to climb the bluffside.
  • Wolfsbane, a rare, floral family local to the area.
  • Clara's Climb, commending Clara Ebner, a descendent of the family who donated much of the bluff lands.
  • Compass, paying homage to the original trail system.
The new Grandad Bluff Trails that opened in October.

See an interactive map of the picture above.

The new project, open to the public, offers more than five miles of trails on a total of 10 segments with multi-use, hike- and bike-only segments. Access is available at the top or bottom of Grandad Bluff.