It’s time to get outside—the weather is starting to warm up, bringing with it outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation across Wisconsin. Here’s a look at a few places where you can go for a great hike or bike ride this spring.
The forests of northern Wisconsin are wonderful places to get out and play in the spring, whether you’re strolling through the woods or exploring the Northwoods on a bike. Bikers looking for a fun-for-all-ages ride should check out the Heart of Vilas County Paved Bike Trail System, which spans more than 50 miles and passes through the communities of St. Germain, Sayner, Boulder Junction, Manitowish Waters, and Mercer.
In neighboring Oneida County, Rhinelander’s CAVOC Trails are a popular destination for mountain bikers and fat tire bikers. The trail system, located west of Long Lake off South Shore Drive near Holiday Acres Resort, offers good elevation for riders (the trail is a popular cross-country skiing destination in winter).
Also located in Oneida County, the Bearskin State Trail follows a former railroad line from Minocqua to Tomahawk. The trail—named after Bearskin Creek, which it follows along its southern end—passes through beautiful Northwoods scenery and along several railroad trestles over lakes and waterways. The 21.5-mile trail has a compacted granite surface, making it a great option for hikers, joggers, and bikers.
In northwestern Wisconsin, Rusk County offers outstanding hiking on the trails in the Flambeau River State Forest. Visitors will find several trail systems to explore, including the Flambeau Hills Trails (located along the Flambeau River), the new Oxbo Trail System, and the Lake of the Pines Trails.
Another fun and accessible state trail is the Eisenbahn State Trail, which starts in West Bend and passes through several communities in Washington and Fond du Lac counties. The 5-mile section of trail in West Bend is paved, while the remainder of the trail is hard-packed crushed gravel, making it an easy ride for most bikers.
Bikers can enjoy outstanding views of Lake Michigan along Manitowoc’s Mariners Trail, a 6-mile paved route that offers the longest continuous scenic view of the lake in the state. The trail starts in downtown Manitowoc and passes scenic overlooks, beaches, flower gardens, and more before linking up with the Rawley Point Recreation Trail in Two Rivers.
Wildwood Park in Marshfield is a 150-acre natural area that’s home to one of the state’s leading municipal zoos. Walk through the park to see wolves, mountain goats, buffalo, and more, as well as the zoo’s most famous residents, twin Kodiak bears Munsey and Boda. (Visitors can also tour the large animal drive in their cars). Aside from the zoo, the park has miles of trails for hikers, joggers and bikers to explore.
Point Beach State Forest in Two Rivers covers 3,000 acres of land and is home to 6 miles of sandy beach shorefront along Lake Michigan. There are nearly 20 miles of hiking trails in the forest ranging from half a mile to more than 7 miles; it’s also fun to walk along the shore and visit the Rawley Point Lighthouse, which has been operated and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard since 1853.
The Glacial Drumlin State Trail stretches for 52 miles between the Madison suburb of Cottage Grove and Waukesha’s Fox River Sanctuary. The trail consists of limestone and asphalt and is ideal for bikers, walkers and joggers. Note that a trail pass is required for bikers 16 and older; they can be purchased from self-registration stations on the trail and are also sold by local businesses along the trail.
Milwaukee’s Hank Aaron State Trail travels from the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee to the Milwaukee County/Waukesha County line, offering 14 miles of paved riding through an urban (yet scenic) environment.
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park is a nearly 1,000-acre park on Madison’s north side that sits on the banks of the Yahara River. The park is home to more than 4 miles of trails and passes through restored prairie, oak savanna, and woodlands. It is a popular destination for birders, who can see species as varied as sandhill cranes, bald eagles, bluebirds, tree swallows, and osprey.
Governor Dodge State Park—about a 45-minute drive west of downtown Madison—is one of Wisconsin’s largest state parks, covering more than 5,000 acres in rural Iowa County. The park is home to a waterfall and nearly 40 miles of maintained trails, all of which are open to hiking in spring, summer, and fall.