The weather is warming up and everyone is itching to get back outside. Whether you’re a first-time hiker or someone who’s got folks with little legs looking to ease into hiking in Wisconsin, you might be on the lookout for parks with hiking trails that are short and sweet. These trails are all shorter than 1 mile long and provide a great introduction into the natural beauty of Wisconsin. Here are 14 spots where short little legs can start exploring:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Kohler-Andrae State Park - Black River Marsh Boardwalk
Enjoy some of the only sand dunes in Wisconsin. Short trails include Black River Marsh Boardwalk (.25 miles). You can also hike the Creeping Juniper Nature Trail, a half mile trail going around the nature center. Located at 1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI 53081.
2. Mirror Lake State Park - Ringling Pass
There are a couple of short trails. The Ringling Pass is just .3 miles. The Nature Trail is .7 miles. And the Kilbourn Trail is .8 miles and is rather easy to hike. Located at E10320 Fern Dell Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913.
3. New Glarus Woods - Bison Nature Trail
This park has several trails that are less than a mile, making it a good beginner stop. It's also an easy little side trip when you're spending a weekend in quaint New Glarus. This path is all about the prairie..It's 0.8 miles long trail offering interpretive signs with information about prairie life, history and management. The Bison Nature trail meanders through the northern park prairie and includes some unusual features such as a swinging bench and life size Bison replica. Locacted at W5508 CTH NN, New Glarus, WI 53574.
4. Horicon Marsh - Indermuehle Island Loop
These trails take you through the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. It is home to 300 species of birds. The Indermuehle Island Loop is only .8 miles. Located at N7725 WI-28, Horicon, WI 53032.
5. UW Arboretum
There are paths criss-crossing the Arboretum, so you can walk as much or as little as you'd like.
Located at 1207 Seminole Hwy, Madison, WI 53711.
6. Rock Island State Park - Havamal Trail
This 1-mile trail will take you clear across the island, from Green Bay to Lake Michigan. You'll see the beautiful coastlines as well as all the lush vegetation in the middle. Located at 1924 Indian Point Rd, Washington, WI 54246.
7. Wyalusing State Park - Old Wagon Road Trail
The Old Wagon trail was originally built to carry wagons from the bluff tops to Walnut Eddy. This heavily-wooded trail starts across the road from the basketball / tennis courts and ends at the Knob Picnic Shelter overlooking the Wisconsin River. It's 0.8 miles long and a perfect introduction to hiking spot. Located on State Park Ln, Bagley, WI 53801.
8. Hartman Creek State Park - Dike Trail
This 1-mile trail crosses a narrow strip of land between Mid and Hartman lakes. It's a really cool and unique way to get out among the vegetation. Located at N2480 Hartman Creek Rd, Waupaca, WI 54981.
9. Interstate State Park - Pothole Trail
Maybe the most unique and stunning 0.4 miles you'll ever walk, this is the western terminus of the 1,200-mile National Scenic Ice Age Trail and the most geologically unique trail in the park. It includes scenic views of the Dalles of the St. Croix River gorge. Walk atop Old Man of the Dalles rock formation past world famous potholes formed by glacial meltwaters. Located at I-35, St Croix Falls, WI 54024.
10. Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area - Boardwalk Trail
Cedarburg Bog is the most intact large bog in southeastern Wisconsin and composed of a mosaic of vegetation types. Once part of a large glacial lake, the bog is a relict community - a southern example of the type more commonly found in northern Wisconsin. There are six lakes remaining within the bog, all with varying sizes and depths. There's a short boardwalk trail system that lets you get out an explore. Located at approximately 2700 WI-33, Saukville, WI 53080.
11. Governor Dodge State Park - Stephens Falls Trail
There are several shorter trails here, but the 0.5 mile paved trail that takes you to Stephens Falls is the star. It's an easy hike that ends at a beautiful spot while going through the forest and highlighting all kinds of rock outcroppings. Located at 4175 State Highway 23, Dodgeville, WI 53533.
12. MacKenzie Center - Nature Trail
This is one of the most diverse education centers in Wisconsin. With interpretive trails, exhibits and museums. The State Game Farm is connected to the MacKenzie Center and is adjacent to the arboretum on the western half of the property. It's the perfect spot for a family day outside. The entrance to the MacKenzie Center is located at the intersection of County Road CS & Park Road in Poynette,
Wisconsin. The mailing address is W7303 County Hwy CS, Poynette, WI 53955.
13. Wildcat Mountain State Park - Ice Cave Trail
This trail begins and ends at a picnic area, making it a perfect family spot. It leads to a spot call the Ice Cave. Though it looks like a cave on approach, it's more a rock depression with a small spring running over the upper edge. In the winter, this spring water freezes into a giant icicle. Located at E13660 State Highway 33, Ontario, WI 54651.
14. Harrington Beach State Park - Quarry Lake Trail
There are four short trails here worth taking, but if you do just one, it should be the Quarry Lake trail. A 0.75-mile hiking trail circles Quarry Lake. The deep, serene waters of the 26-acre lake are surrounded by limestone ledges lined with white cedar trees.
Located at 531 County Road D, Belgium, WI 53004.