Everyone knows our dairy farms. But have they hiked the Ice Age Trail or experienced our 800 miles of shoreline?
When you ask someone who doesn’t been to Wisconsin what they know of our state, most can easily enumerate the Packers, Cheese, Jeffrey Dahmer and Dairy Farms. But Wisconsin is home to so much more, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Although we have no oceans or mountains, we make up for it with two Great Lakes, countless rivers and an abundance of trails.
Here are five ways to show status to all new visitors:
1. Visit our “biggest” lake, Michigan
Depending on where you live in Wisconsin and how long your friend is staying, you should definitely plan to visit either Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. (Or both, if you’re really ambitious!) If you didn’t already know, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and Lake Michigan is the largest freshwater lake in the United States. United. Wisconsin has over 800 miles of Great Lakes shoreline to explore.
If you head east to Lake Michigan, you’ll find places to stay and exciting things to do from Milwaukee all the way to Door County. Port Washington, less than 30 miles north of Milwaukee, is a great base for fishing trips. The small port town is home to several fishing businesses. You can even find charter companies which take groups ice fishing, a must during the winter months if you want to give your friend the full Wisconsin Experience.
Sheboygan also offers several opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to spend time on the water. The “Malibu of the Midwest,” Sheboygan’s shoreline is famous for its waves, making it ideal for surfing and kitesurfing. The city’s North Beach and South Beach are prime watersports hotspots, but if you’re more interested in hiking, head to South Beach. The scenic Kohler Andre-State Park is filled with sand dunes and bike paths.
2. Discover our northernmost lake, Superior
Towns along the Lake Superior shoreline are smaller, but Bayfield is the best stop for any first-time visitors. Known as the “Gateway to the Apostle Islands,” the town is the last stop before joining the archipelago of 21 islands along the shores of Lake Superior. It is the ideal place for hiking, kayaking, canoeing or fishing. All the islands are inhabited except one, Madeline Island. And, you can even camp on 18 of them!
If you are visiting in the winter, be sure to stop at the amazing ice caves. However, be sure to check with the National Park Service to ensure conditions are safe. A trip to the caves is a two-hour hike on frozen Lake Superior, which can be dangerous.
3. Hike the Ice Age Trail
The Ice Age Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States. The trail basically shows where the glaciers ended in North America. Hiking the Ice Age Trail is a unique experience as the unspoiled areas along most of the trail have preserved many glacial features including kames, kettles, and moraines, which are mounds of sand , depressions in the earth and masses of rocks left behind. by glaciers. It’s like a workout and a science/history lesson all rolled into one!
The trail spans the entire state TWICE – from Interstate State Park, Wisconsin’s oldest, located on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, to Janesville, then back up to Green Bay. No matter where you live in Wisconsin, you’re within an hour or two of part of the Ice Age Trail. Parts of the 1,200-mile stretch also allow for biking and cross-country skiing.
4. Climb St. Peter’s Dome
Hike to the top of St. Peter’s Dome is another great activity to experience with a first-time visitor… who has some adventure experience! Located near the small town of Marengo in northern Wisconsin, St. Peter’s Dome is the highest point in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. It’s not really a dome: the result of your 4.2-mile hike is an incredible 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape, especially scenic in the fall.
Allow some extra time for a short detour to visit Morgan Falls, a 70-foot waterfall that tumbles diagonally over granite boulders into a branch of Morgan Creek. If you visit in the winter, you can still find Morgan Falls flowing, and the shorter 1.2 mile round trip from the parking lot is a fun snowshoe adventure.
5. Visit Bubolz Nature Reserve
Finally, you and your friend can explore over 700 acres and eight miles of trails inside Appleton Bubolz Nature Reserve, a short drive from Oshkosh and Green Bay. This special mix of Wisconsin habitats is home to diverse flora and fauna, making it easy for visitors to appreciate and enjoy nature. The reserve is open year-round and offers hiking, walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Bubolz Nature Preserve also offers fun seasonal events, such as Ales on the Trails, Brewski, and Maple Syrup Saturday. Whether it’s 10 degrees or 100, there’s plenty to do at Bubolz!
Can you get more Wisconsin that this?