Hike & Go Seek – Oak Leaf Trail

Brown Leaves on Brown Tree Branch

Just outside the busteling city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin you will find the Oak Leaf Trail (formerly 76 Bike Trail).  It is a paved 108-mile multi-use recreational trail.   Clearly marked trail segments connect all of the major parks in the Milwaukee County Park System with a “ribbon of green.”

Early bicycling advocate Harold “Zip” Morgan first conceived and laid out a 64-mile trail in 1939. The route made its way around the edge of the county and through natural resource corridors found along the rivers and lakefront.  Three decades later the trail was officially established by the Milwaukee County Park Commission, and in 1966 construction of the parkland trails began.  It became known as the 76 Bike Trail for the 76 miles  it spanned.
East side of the Oak Leaf Trail 
The present system of inter-connecting trails consists of 48 miles of asphalt paths and 31 miles of parkway, along with 27 miles of municipal streets that have designated bicycle lanes and sidewalks.   An outer loop of 64.5 miles (103.8 km) joins together the 5.4-mile (8.7 km) Lake Loop, 1.6-mile (2.6 km) Lincoln Creek Spur, 2.6-mile  Whitnall Loop and 13.7-mile East-West Connector.   The 2.1-mile (3.4 km) Root River Trail Extension was added in 2006.   Another 31 miles (50 km) are currently in the planning stages, including trail linkages with the newer Hank Aaron State Trail in the Menomonee Valley and Lakeshore State Park. A new trail segment under Bluemound Road along Underwood Creek was completed in 2011 in the City of Wauwatosa.
Scenery along the Oak Leaf Trail varies from woodland parks, nature reserves, and a wildlife corridor along the lakefront, to urban industrial settings in Milwaukee’s downtown area.

 

Hike & Go Seek – Gandy Dancer Trail

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The Gandy Dancer State Trail is a 98 mile recreational trail spanning through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The trail is managed by Polk, Burnett, and Douglas County in Wisconsin and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota.

The trail follows the old Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroad grade from St. Croix Falls to Superior. The trail is divided up into a north and south segment with the southern segment accounting for 47 miles all in Wisconsin and the northern segment accounting for 51 miles in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The Ice Age Trail follows the Gandy Dancer State Trail for 19 miles from St. Croix Falls past the town of Luck.

 

 

History

A gandy dancer was a slang term used for American railroad workers that would build and maintain tracks by hand. The term likely originated from the Gandy Manufacturing Company based in Chicago which produced railroad tools. These workers were known to sing and keep their voices and feet in unison which led to them being described as dancers. In 1990 a naming contest was held for the naming of the trail. The name Gandy Dancer was chosen to honor the railroad workers who built the tracks. (wiki)

 

 

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game.

Hike & Go Seek – Duck Creek Trail

White and Brown Wild Duck on Water
A place to be in awe.  The Duck Creek Trail in Wisconsin is a crushed limestone trail in Outagamie and Brown Counties in northeast Wisconsin. The Duck Creek Trail spans seven miles (11 km), beginning at the eastern end of the Newton Blackmour State Trail, just east of Vanderheuvel Road in Seymour. The trail continues east through the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin in northern Outagamie County paralleling State Route 54, and continues to the Village of Oneida.  The Duck Creek Trail will eventually extend to Pamperin Park in Green Bay.
With the connection to the Newton Blackmour State Trail, the combined trails are over 30 miles (48 km) long. The combined trails extend from Village of Oneida to New London. (wiki)

Hike & Go Seek – Ice Age Trail

Hiking a segment of the Ice Age Trail in Columbia County.Photo from DNR

Looking for premier hiking in the Midwest.  Look no furture….The Ice Age Trail is a National Scenic Trail located entirely within Wisconsin. The trail is also one of 42 designated Wisconsin state trails and the only one specifically designated as a “State Scenic Trail.” From Interstate State Park on the Minnesota border to Potawatomi State Park on Lake Michigan, the Ice Age Trail winds for more than 1,000 miles, following the edge of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.

One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is intended to be a premier hiking trail and conservation resource for silent sport and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail traverses some of Wisconsin’s most scenic landscapes and helps tell the story of the last Ice Age by highlighting Wisconsin’s unique glacial features.

Primary attractions include topography left by glaciation in the Last Ice Age. Glacial features along the trail include kettles, potholes, eskers, and glacial erratics. Many of the best examples of glacial features in Wisconsin are exhibited in units of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, most of which lie along the trail.

The Ice Age Trail is primarily an off-road hiking and backpacking trail that provides excellent opportunities for sightseeing, wildlife viewing and bird watching. In winter, some sections of the trail are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Camping

Opportunities are available for camping along the Ice Age Trail in national, state and county forests and in many state and county parks, including some private campgrounds. Campgrounds can vary from primitive walk-in campsites to facilities complete with electric hookups. When planning a trip, it is best to check ahead of time for camping locations and availability. The Ice Age Trail Atlas and Guidebook, which are available for sale from the Ice Age Trail Alliance, provide camping and lodging details for all segments of the trail.

Post with yellow blaze

The Ice Age Trail travels through 30 counties on state, federal, county and private lands, connecting dozens of communities. There are hundreds of trailheads and access points located along the trail route. More than 600 miles of trail are open. The completed sections of the trail are connected by less-traveled roadways and other temporary routes. 

Hikers at Devil's Lake
Stone steps lead the way up the bluff trails at Devil’s Lake State Park.

The Ice Age Trail goes through several state and federal lands in Wisconsin, including traveling many miles through county and private lands. In addition to the state parks and forests listed below (from west to east along the trail), the Ice Age Trail travels through many state wildlife and fishery areas and some state natural areas.

  • Interstate State Park, Saint Croix Falls
  • Straight Lake State Park, near Frederic
  • Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, near New Auburn
  • Brunet Island State Park, Cornell
  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest 
  • Hartman Creek State Park, near Waupaca
  • Devil’s Lake State Park, near Baraboo
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest
    • Southern Unit, Eagle
    • Lapham Peak Unit, near Delafield
    • Loew Lake Unit, near Monches
    • Pike Lake Unit, near Hartford
    • Northern Unit, near Campbellsport
  • Point Beach State Forest, near Two Rivers
  • Potawatomi State Park, near Sturgeon Bay

The Ice Age Trail includes parts of other Wisconsin state trails.

  • Gandy Dancer, St. Croix Falls to Frederic
  • Tuscobia, Rice Lake to Birchwood
  • Mountain-Bay, near Hatley
  • Military Ridge, near Verona
  • Badger, near Fitchburg
  • Sugar River, Monticello to Albany
  • Glacial Drumlin, near Wales
  • Eisenbahn, near Kewaskum
  • Ahnapee, Casco Junction to Sturgeon Bay

Interstate State Park, Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area and the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine Forest – all units of the Ice Age Scientific Reserve – have Ice Age Educational and Interpretive Centers with major displays in glacial history and geology.

Trekking Devil’s Lake – Wisconsin

If you can only hike one trail...Devil’s Lake State Park is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin and is Wisconsin’s most popular state park with about 3 million visitors per year. The over 9,000 acre park anchors more than 27,000 acres of parkland and natural areas.

A great place to start – The Nature Center. A three-dimensional landform model of the park will bring the park terrain into sight from a bird’s-eye view. A series of panoramas make clear the formation of the valley, once 1,000 feet deep, now half-filled with rock and sediment and topped by the 50-foot-deep Devil’s Lake. Hands-on items include various bones, furs, shells, and rocks.

There is a lot to keep you busy at Devil’s Lake State Park! Devil’s Lake has 2 large, sandy, beaches, large picnic areas with charcoal grills, reservable and non-reservable shelters and over 29 miles of hiking & mountain bike trails. Concessions offer kayak, canoe and paddleboat and stand-up board rentals as well. Local Outfitters provide rock climbing and bouldering instruction as well as guided backcountry hikes & step on guide services.

Devil’s Lake State Park is known for it’s amazing rock formations and expansive vistas from the top of the Baraboo Bluffs! If this is what you’re looking for and you only have time for one trail, we recommend the East Bluff Trail. Plan for 3 – 4 hours.

If you’re looking for a flat trail, there are paved paths that go through the beach areas on the both sides of the lake near the beaches. The best flat trail options are the Tumbled Rocks trail along the bottom of the West Bluff or the Grottos Trail on the South Shore.

Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

 

Hike and Go Seek – Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is a 3,776-acre  Wisconsin state park with eight miles of Green Bay shoreline in Door County. Peninsula is the third largest state park in Wisconsin.

Upon entering the Peninsula State Park, I realized how just a few hours north created an entirely different landscape.  The trees were so tall the I could not often see the tops.  The same area that I saw on the map…..was a bit deceiving as this peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan on 3 sides.   I could not help but wonder…could there be bears?  My understanding growing up in Northern Illinois was that bears where “native” to upper Wisconsin.  But upon checking in and registering my car (yes…there is a fee to park), I asked.  And the seemingly gentle man behind the check in counter went”gggrrowllllll” as if joking.  But then he said….well….there have been a few sightings.  Ugh…I would be hiking alone and this is different than many of the trails I had enjoyed closer to home where they are quite populated…and yes…no bears.  So he told me that IF I did see a bear all I need to do is  to just stand up tall and  make myself  look big.  While I might be a bit big around the belly…I am certainly not tall.

And ok.. while this site is all about nature, hiking and adventure…I must say Door County offers many small quaint towns, with a vast array of shops and restaurants…lots of outdoor dining (you hear….”outdoor”…so that counts).

Oh by the way and I never did see a bear.

Ice Age Scenic National Trail – Wisconsin

Hiking a segment of the Ice Age Trail in Columbia County.Photo from DNR

Looking for premier hiking in the Midwest.  Look no furture….The Ice Age Trail is a National Scenic Trail located entirely within Wisconsin. The trail is also one of 42 designated Wisconsin state trails and the only one specifically designated as a “State Scenic Trail.” From Interstate State Park on the Minnesota border to Potawatomi State Park on Lake Michigan, the Ice Age Trail winds for more than 1,000 miles, following the edge of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.

One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is intended to be a premier hiking trail and conservation resource for silent sport and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail traverses some of Wisconsin’s most scenic landscapes and helps tell the story of the last Ice Age by highlighting Wisconsin’s unique glacial features.

Primary attractions include topography left by glaciation in the Last Ice Age. Glacial features along the trail include kettles, potholes, eskers, and glacial erratics. Many of the best examples of glacial features in Wisconsin are exhibited in units of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, most of which lie along the trail.

The Ice Age Trail is primarily an off-road hiking and backpacking trail that provides excellent opportunities for sightseeing, wildlife viewing and bird watching. In winter, some sections of the trail are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Camping

Opportunities are available for camping along the Ice Age Trail in national, state and county forests and in many state and county parks, including some private campgrounds. Campgrounds can vary from primitive walk-in campsites to facilities complete with electric hookups. When planning a trip, it is best to check ahead of time for camping locations and availability. The Ice Age Trail Atlas and Guidebook, which are available for sale from the Ice Age Trail Alliance, provide camping and lodging details for all segments of the trail.

Post with yellow blaze

The Ice Age Trail travels through 30 counties on state, federal, county and private lands, connecting dozens of communities. There are hundreds of trailheads and access points located along the trail route. More than 600 miles of trail are open. The completed sections of the trail are connected by less-traveled roadways and other temporary routes. 

Hikers at Devil's Lake
Stone steps lead the way up the bluff trails at Devil’s Lake State Park.

The Ice Age Trail goes through several state and federal lands in Wisconsin, including traveling many miles through county and private lands. In addition to the state parks and forests listed below (from west to east along the trail), the Ice Age Trail travels through many state wildlife and fishery areas and some state natural areas.

  • Interstate State Park, Saint Croix Falls
  • Straight Lake State Park, near Frederic
  • Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, near New Auburn
  • Brunet Island State Park, Cornell
  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest 
  • Hartman Creek State Park, near Waupaca
  • Devil’s Lake State Park, near Baraboo
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest
    • Southern Unit, Eagle
    • Lapham Peak Unit, near Delafield
    • Loew Lake Unit, near Monches
    • Pike Lake Unit, near Hartford
    • Northern Unit, near Campbellsport
  • Point Beach State Forest, near Two Rivers
  • Potawatomi State Park, near Sturgeon Bay

The Ice Age Trail includes parts of other Wisconsin state trails.

  • Gandy Dancer, St. Croix Falls to Frederic
  • Tuscobia, Rice Lake to Birchwood
  • Mountain-Bay, near Hatley
  • Military Ridge, near Verona
  • Badger, near Fitchburg
  • Sugar River, Monticello to Albany
  • Glacial Drumlin, near Wales
  • Eisenbahn, near Kewaskum
  • Ahnapee, Casco Junction to Sturgeon Bay

Interstate State Park, Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area and the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine Forest – all units of the Ice Age Scientific Reserve – have Ice Age Educational and Interpretive Centers with major displays in glacial history and geology.