We pick three

Three ways to descend the infamous hill

Maggie OBrien

More stories from Maggie O'Brien

Across the Pond
February 28, 2024

If there’s one thing that most UW-Eau Claire students can agree upon, it’s the fact that the hill separating upper and lower campus can be a bit of a nuisance. 

After a few weeks of experimenting with the various ways to rush down the hill to classes, most new students settle on a preferred method. There are three ways in particular that most students tend to gravitate towards, with each having a few benefits and drawbacks. 

The stairs behind McPhee Center 

The wooden stairs located behind McPhee Center are my go-to choice for making my way to classes or the library. This route to lower campus may be a bit out of the way for some dormitories, but the five-minute walk is arguably more than worth it. 

The short walk to the stairs from Karlgaard Towers breezes past ancient pines and offers a brief moment of peace for students as they make their way to class or other activities on lower campus. 

The stairs are a stop on school tours for a reason, as the natural wooded surroundings enchant prospective UW-Eau Claire students in mere seconds. Watching the seasons change on the walk down the stairs is something that most students adore and even rave about.

This route also brings students near a heavily-frequented location on lower campus. Upon descending the stairs, students will find themselves right outside the Davies Student Center and just a short walk from most classroom buildings. 

The campus hill

Of course, the main option that students choose to get to lower campus would be walking down the campus hill. The hill is the closest option for most dormitories, making it one of the most popular paths to get to lower campus. 

Walking down the hill also makes for a quick descent to lower campus, as the steepness elicits a speedier walk than normal. Many students also prefer the quick walk down the hill since it boasts a wonderful view of campus and the river, no matter the season or time of day. 

But while the central location of the hill offers convenience and charm, it often warrants heavy traffic on weekdays as students rush off to classes. The hill can also become an absolute hazard to walk down if it isn’t plowed immediately after even a light snowfall. 

So, the hill is a classic option for getting to lower campus, but it’s not always the safest or most convenient choice. 

The campus bus 

Eau Claire Transit provides free local bus service to students at UW-Eau Claire. Route 19 runs through upper campus and stops behind Centennial Hall. Some students prefer to take the bus down to the lower campus, especially when the weather is at its peak. 

The campus bus provides a hazard-free and warm way to get to classes when the hill and stairs are icy or slick with rain. 

While the bus is an excellent resource for anyone with limited mobility, it isn’t always the most streamlined choice. Since the bus isn’t always exactly on schedule due to a multitude of variables, it isn’t the most reliable option and may result in students running late to class. 

The route to lower campus also makes a few stops before arriving at Centennial Hall, so if you’re in a rush, taking the hill or the stairs would be your best bet. 

UW-Eau Claire provides students with a range of options for making their way down to lower campus, but consider taking the stairs more often to see a different side of campus and grant yourself a moment of fresh air and reflection. 

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected].