Winter hit us hard and there’s only so much time a Wisconsinite can spend inside before they get a little fed up of the same four walls. Lucky for us, our state has one of the best park systems in the world and few of our parks close down in the winter.
Whether it’s a bracing hike to breathe fresh air or a moonlight cross-country skiing trip, there’s plenty to do and every reason to get up off the couch, bundle up and head on out to the trails.
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. Palfrey's Glen - Merrimac
This is Wisconsin's first natural area. The path is open from 6 am to 8 pm every day, year-round.
Located near Devil's Lake State Park - S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913.
2. Greenbush recreation area trails - Kettle Moraine State Park Northern Unit
Two different trail loops are open to cross-country skiiers, hikers and snow-shoers. There is a lighted ski path, a heated picnic area, and access to the Greenbush loop system on the Ice Age Trail.
There are also 60 miles of snowmobile trails through the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
N5854 Kettle Moraine Dr, Glenbeulah, WI 53023.
3. Lapham Peak - Kettle Moraine South Unit
With a tower to view the whole area and multiple trails lengths and difficulties to choose from, there's no good reason to put off a trip to Lapham Peak.
It's an ideal place for Milwaukeeans to get back in nature.
The park is open Park hours: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
During the snow season, the 2.5 mile lighted loop is lit Monday through Saturday until 9:00 pm. The park closes at 5 pm on Sundays.
W329 N846 County Road C, Delafield, WI 53018
4. Indian Lake County Park - Cross Plains
Located about 30 minutes from Madison, this park invites the city dwellers into the great outdoors. With more than 400 acres, it's one of the biggest parks in Dane County. The park has snow shoeing, hiking, ice fishing and cross-country skiing.
8183 WI-19, Cross Plains, WI 53528
5. Whitetail Meadows Trail - Wyalusing State Park
With a 1.7 and 3.1 mile option and the ability to hike or ski, this trail has lots to recommend it. Parts of the park offer Mississippi River views, while others are well known for the wildlife they support.
State Park Ln, Bagley, WI 53801
6. Chippewa Ice Age Trail - New Auburn
There are 23 miles of well-marked trails for this part of the Ice Age Trail in the Chippewa Moraine Reserve.
13394 Co Hwy M, New Auburn, WI 54757
7. Vilas Park - Madison
One of Madison's biggest green spaces, there are a ton of trails to try and get out of your city-dweller rut.
702 S Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53715
8. Devil's Lake State Park - Baraboo
Is this cheating since I already included Palfrey's Glen? Maybe, but there is so much diverse terrain in this park that it seems fair to split it up. From climbs on down to the forest floor, there's plenty to explore here.
S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913.
9. Chequamegon National Forest - Rhinelander
With more than 1,500 acres, it's impossible to narrow this down to a trail. No matter where you are up north, you're near a place worth lacing up the boots to see.
500 Hanson Lake Road, Rhinelander, WI 54501
10. Mirror Lake State Park - Baraboo
They have a whole list of winter activities, including ice fishing. Snow shoeing, skiing and tubing are all available as well.
E10320 Fern Dell Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913
11. Interstate State Park - St. Croix Falls
As the name implies, this park spans the Minnesota and Wisconsin border and offers some gorgeous river views, critter sightings, and paths.
WI-35, St Croix Falls, WI 54024
12. Kangaroo Lake State Natural Area - Bailey's Harbor
The spring-fed lake is property of the Nature Conservancy . The trail's proximity to Lake Michigan and travels through unique wetlands make this a fun trip.
13. Peninsula State Park - Door County
With 10 cross-country skiing trails, three snow shoe trails and 17 miles of snowmobile trails in addition to winter hiking, Peninsula State Park is a must for the winter outdoorsman.
9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212
14. Blue Mound State Park - Blue Mounds
Open year-round from 6 am to 11 pm, this park is just 25 miles west of Madison. There are multiple trails for every experience level and a few groomed for skiing, as well.
4350 Mounds Park Rd, Blue Mounds, WI 53517
15. Lake Superior Ice Caves - Bayfield
At this point you've probably figured out I'll include the Apostle Islands ice caves any time I can.
It's about a mile hike across the frozen lake to get to the caves. Depending on the weather, you might need ice cleats. The warmer it is, the more people you'll run in to. But oh my, is it worth it.
What other parks, trails and hikes do you take in the winter? Make sure to tell us in the comments!