Foot Bridges in Eau Claire
The backstory: The High Bridge is Eau Claire’s used to be the newest footbridge, yet it also holds the honor of being the city’s oldest railroad bridge. In 1898, Chicago and North Western Railway built the bridge and later sold it to Union Pacific Railroad. In 2015, it was renovated from a train bridge to a pedestrian bridge along the Chippewa River State Trail.
Why you should cross it: Sitting at 80 feet above the Chippewa River, this traverse boasts the best nature-meets-urban views in the valley.
Riverview Island Bridge
The backstory: Crossing a small creek, this petite pedestrian bridge was built to connect a parking area to beautiful Riverview Park Island.
Why you should cross it: There is a certain “fairytale feeling” to crossing this bridge, as you head straight for the Chippewa River. BONUS: Fido can come too because this is a pet-friendly park.
Boyd Park Bridge
The backstory: The bridge was originally built in 1889 to connect neighborhoods and businesses from the Eastside Hill with the North side of town. In 1932, the city of Eau Claire built the first official Boyd Park Pedestrian Bridge and that lasted until the current structure was built in 2005.
Why you should cross it: The rich history of this bridge can be explained by its proximity to Banbury Place, the former Uniroyal Tire Factory that at its height employed over 1,300 individuals in the community and now houses office space, a canine training center, vintage shops, art studios and more.
The backstory: Originally built for the railway, this bridge was designed to curve into an “S” shape to seamlessly connect the main track on the north side of the river with the depot on the south side. It was renovated and converted to a bicycle and pedestrian bridge in 2002.
Why you should cross it: This bridge took the top spot on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s list of “11 Unique Wisconsin Bridges You Have to See.” It provides a perfect vantage point for walkers, bikers and adventures to drink in beautiful views of the Eau Claire River.
Haymarket Plaza Pedestrian Bridge
The backstory: This walking bridge was built to connect Phoenix park and the recently finished Haymarket plaza that includes fire pits and a splash pad. It was just recently constructed in 2018 making it the newest footbridge to Eau Claire.
Why you should cross it: This bridge gives you a jaw-dropping view of the Pablo Center of the Confluence. If walked at night, one can see the corresponding lights between Haymarket Plaza and the Phoenix Park foot bridge.
Phoenix Park Bridge (the lit bridge!)
The backstory: Assembled in the early 1900s to further Milwaukee Road’s railroad expansion into Wisconsin, the Phoenix Park Bridge was built from parts of three other railroad bridges, as evidenced by the western-most span coming in higher than the other two sections. Much like many other pedestrian bridges in town, the Phoenix Park Bridge was once used for train transport.
Why you should cross it: This bridge overlooks Phoenix Park, as well as the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, making for a great place to stop and take pictures. Plus it is lit by hundreds of colorful LED lights, emphasizing the historic architectural structure of this gem.
Grand Avenue Bridge
The backstory: Grand Avenue used to be connected to downtown Eau Claire with a vehicle bridge, but that span was moved to Lake St. in the 1970s. Wanting to provide an easy way for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students to connect with the downtown, the current Grand Avenue footbridge went up in 1979.
Why you should cross it: On the Grand Avenue side of this bridge, you’ll find cute shops, popular restaurants, a community theatre, and perhaps the best find of all - the illuminated Baroque sculpture, an art installation by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi first unveiled during the second annual Eaux Claires Festival in 2016.
University Walking Bridge
The backstory: This bridge is largely used by UW-Eau Claire co-eds as it connects two parts of campus separated by the Chippewa River.
Why you should cross it: Aside from providing a stunning view of the Chippewa River, this bridge is the reason UW-Eau Claire continues to top lists of “coldest college campuses.” Check out #BridgeFace on Instagram and you’ll understand why.
Clairemont Avenue Bridge
The backstory: The purpose of this structure in the early 1900s was to provide expansion opportunities by connecting railway lines in Wabasha, Minnesota to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. It was eventually abandoned and then converted to a biking and walking trail in the 1990s.
Why you should cross it: This bridge is another that runs as part of the Chippewa River State Trail and provides views of the Chippewa River you won’t see anywhere else.