Hiking In Wisconsin
Wisconsin may be known for it's dairy products and quiet, midwestern values, but don't gloss over this hiker friendly State or it's many unknown hiker's paradises.
Scenic Wisconsin may be well known for its dairy products and hometown midwestern feel, but it also offers some of the most beautiful and unknown hiking trails in the United States. Whether you're a low impact hiker or a seasoned veteran, Wisconsin should be one destination your hiking schedule doesn't pass over.
With more than sixty State Parks available for use to the public, Wisconsin is host to a wide range of scenery, atmosphere and weather. All Wisconsin State Parks require a day pass ($3/per person) or a yearlong membership ($18/per car). Ticket purchases, State Park brochures and additional information can be gathered by calling any of Wisconsin's many parks. Most State Parks are open year round, though you'll want to bundle up and equip yourself with winter appropriate gear if hiking November-March.
CITY AND COUNTY PARKS
Wisconsin has an abundance of City and County Parks. Most are free to visitors and feature a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels. Contact the individual city you plan to visit for a complete listing of parks in the area you'll be visiting.
TRAILS RATED BY DIFFICULTY
1. Lake Wissota State Park
On Cty O, 2 miles E of Cty S, 5 miles NE of Chippewa Falls
Located just outside Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on a 6,300 foot manmade lake, Lake Wissota State Park offers its users 1062 acres to explore. All trails are well-groomed and marked, making it a perfect outing for families and inexperienced hikers. This state park has a one mile nature rail, 17.5 miles of groomed hiking trails, and .4 miles of surfaced bike and handicapped accessible trails. Campsites and picnic areas are also available.
2. Wild Cat Mountain State Park
On SR 33, 15 miles W of Elroy, Ontario
Encompassing both Wild Cat Mountain and the Kickapoo River in southern Wisconsin, this park is the 4th largest in the state. With 3530 acres of scenic ground, Wild Cat Mountain features 1.3 miles of nature trails and 2.5 miles of well-surfaced hiking trails. This park also has camping and picnic grounds available.
3. Browntown-Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area
Just north of the Illinois border, this well marked area is a hiker's dream come true. Wrapped around two man-made lakes, walk these expertly pruned paths free of charge. Several footpaths lead to dikes and through natural wildlife areas.
INTERMEDIATE TO DIFFICULT
1. Big Eau Pleine County Park
Nestled on a peninsula on the largest lake in the county, Big Eau Pleine County Park is one of Wisconsin's best kept secrets. This mainly undeveloped and secluded area is open free of charge to the public and offers free form walking and exploring for all levels.
2. Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area
On 720th Ave, 2 miles N of I-94, 9 miles NE of Menomonie
Another of Wisconsin's gem hiking spots, this 707 acre undeveloped area is free and unbelievably beautiful. The only signs of civilization here is a sixty foot observation tower, which highlights the rugged terrain you'll be climbing, hiking and backpacking. This is a must see!
3. Northern Highlands - American Legion State Forest
On US 51, 8870 Hwy J, Woodruff
The largest of Wisconsin's State Forest's is Northern Highlands. Enter this wooded hideaway and use 6.8 miles of nature trails, 18.5 miles of hiking trails, 838 miles of off- road trails for all levels. Camping and boating facilities also available.
1. Blue Hills
Located in Northwest Wisconsin, 8 miles northwest of Bruce, 25 miles east of Rice Lake, this is one of Wisconsin's best spots for communing with nature. Literally hundreds of marked and unmarked trails wind through this entirely undeveloped area, offering hikers of all levels the ultimate outdoor experience. This is one of Wisconsin's largest areas of free form hiking and is completely free of charge. Don't miss this incredible experience!
2. Black River State Forest
910 Hwy 54E, Black River Falls
With 66,179 acres to enjoy, this hiker's paradise shouldn't be passed by. Treks ranging from easy to difficult take you through natural wildlife areas, giving you a close up view of deer, birds, bear and the almost extinct timberwolf. 400-million year old Mounds are accessible, along with an observation tower and several thirty foot cliffs for climbing.
3. Ice Age Trail
The Ice Age Trail is most possibly the most significant of Central Wisconsin's hiking areas. This trail is a National Scenic Trail and measures over 1,000 miles long and consists of roughly 500 miles of public access trails. You can access the public portions of this trail at Council State Campground in Merill, at The Dells of the Eau Claire park just east of Wausau or at Hartman Creek State park in Waupaca County.
4. Interstate State Park
On SR 35, just S of US 8, St Croix Falls
Wisconsin's oldest park, also known as "Dalles of the St Croix" is one of the most scenic trails in all the State. 1,378 acres are publicly accessible, with over fifty trails and nature trails open to the public. This amazing find features rocky cliffs for climbing, hiking and viewing for the advanced hikers, and well groomed trails for the less active. Wildlife runs free here, so don't be surprised to share your path with a herd of deer or one of the many bear that frequent the area. Campsites and nature programs are also available.