Wisconsin May 14, 2018
You’ll Never Run Out of Trails to Explore In These 11 Hiker’s Paradise Towns in Wisconsin
Wisconsin really is an outdoorsperson’s paradise. With all the fishing, skiing, biking and more that you could ever want, we really do have it all. But the very best thing we have can be done year round. Wisconsin has more hiking trails than you could ever hope to traverse in a lifetime and no matter the weather, these spots are out there waiting to be explored. Sometimes you want to go out and explore a single trail, but one of my favorite things about Wisconsin is how so many of the great spots are grouped together and close by, meaning you can take a weekend based in a single town and explore all kinds of trails. These spots are hiker’s paradises. Consider making one of these 11 Wisconsin towns your home base for a weekend of exploring all the natural beauty surrounding them:
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Get out on the water and explore Park Point Recreation Area (
and find one of the very best beaches in the state
) before heading inland to find both Amnicon Falls State Park and Big Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park. There's also Superior Municipal Forest, Brule Forest, Erickson Creek Forest and Wetlands State Natural Area, Brule Glacial National Spillway State Natural Area and Pokegama Carnegie Wetlands State Natural Area all within 30 miles.
Mosinee is a smaller town just outside Wausau that provides a great jumping off point to explore the forests and parks of Marathon, Wood and Portage countries. Within 15 miles there's Rib Mountain State Park, the city parks of Wausau, Big Eau Pleine County Park, George W Mead State Wildlife Area and a couple of forest units. There's also miles of waterfront of the Wisconsin River to see.
3. Bailey's Harbor
Anywhere on Door County's peninsula can give you gorgeous scenery, but I particularly like Bailey's Harbor for it's proximity to
Cave Point County Park, which is one of the more underrated spots in the state.
There's also Whitefish Dunes State Park, Peninsula State Park,
Newport State Park and Mud Lake State Wildlife Area. Bailey's Harbor Ridges Park is right on the shoreline and Kangaroo Park State Natural Area has a large inland lake. Meridian County Park and State Natural Area are between the lake and the shoreline, so also give great views. They're all within 20 miles.
If you've not explored the Mariner's Trail that hugs the coast from Manitowoc to Two Rivers, you're missing out on some of the best views in the state. Along the way, find Woodland Dunes State Natural Area, Neshotah Park, Picnic Hill Park and end up at Point Beach State Forest. Head inland to find Collins Marsh, Killsnake and Collins Wildlife Areas within 30 miles. Go just a bit further to find High Cliff State Park on the shores of Lake Winnebago.
5. Fond du Lac
Right on the southern tip of Lake Winnebago, there's plenty to see and hike there in the city. But you're also within a quick drive to the brilliant Horicon Marsh and the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. There's also Theresa Marsh, Sheboygan Marsh and Elkhart Lake to discover all within 30 miles.
If there were one town that's king of Wisconsin hiker's paradises, it's Baraboo. Right in town you've got the most popular state park, Devil's Lake, Baxter's Hollow, Pewit's Nest and Parfrey's Glen. To the north is Mirror Lake State Park, Pine Island State Wildlife Area and Dell Creek State Wildlife Area, plus the entirety of the Dells of the Wisconsin River. There's Lake Wisconsin and Gibraltar Rock to the south east and Ferry Bluff and Mazomanie Oak Barrens to the south west. You could hike for weeks around Baraboo and never get bored.
7. Black River Falls
Located right on the Black River, this small town has nothing but gorgeous state areas around it. Start at the Black River State Forest before checking out the Upper Black River State Natural Area and Wazee Lake Recreational Area. The Washburn Marsh State Narural Area will keep you busy for days.
8. Eau Claire
The Chippewa River provides endless areas to hike and explore in this area. Carson and Putnam Parks are right in town and a good place to get started. Just outside of town proper is Lowes Creek County Park. To the east is Tower Ridge Recreational Area and Big Falls County Park. Follow the river down to the Lower River State Natural Area. Head north to Chippewa Falls to find Lake Wissota State Park
A bit north of the Dells in an area that people tend to spend their time passing through but not stopping, there's a huge concentration of state lands that are truly gorgeous. The sandstone cliffs here are breathtaking and just waiting to be explored. Start at Mill Bluff State Park before heading on to Yellow River State Natural Area, Suk Cerney Peatlands State Natural Area, Buckhorn State Park, which juts into Castle Rock Lake and the Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area.
10. Eagle River
You really can't go wrong in the north woods as there are endless paths and trails to discover and every city has their own secrets. But if you head to Eagle River, you'll also get to explore Rainbow Wetlands State Natural Area, Rice Lake State Natural Area and Big Swamp State Natural Area.
So different from everywhere else in the state, the Driftless Area is a wonderful place to get out hiking and exploring. The southwest part of the state has a lot of unique and interesting vistas to offer. LaFarge can give you a good starting point to find the state areas, but
Viroqua is a beautiful and charming little city
, so don't be afraid to stay there for food and entertainment and then get out and explore. There's Tunnelville Cliffs State Natural Area, Kickapoo Valley Reserve State Natural Area and Wildcat Mountain State Park.
Where are your favorite hiking towns? Let us know in the comments!