As a Fox Cities transplant to South Central Wisconsin, I once complained to my friends that there was “nothing to do” here during the winter, I’m happy to report that they embraced this as a challenge and opened my eyes to all of the opportunities available to me. From winter festivals to snowshoeing, I learned that this part of Wisconsin is actually the perfect place to be during winter. Of all the activities I participated in, the one that excited me the most was cross-country skiing – something I loved as a child, but had long since left behind.
My dad first taught me how to ski at Plamann Park in Outagamie County when I was growing up. There were twists, turns, hills and straight stretches in a beautiful wooded setting. We would explore paths all over the Fox Cities and surrounding areas – from Memorial Park in Neenah to Calumet County Park on the shores of Lake Winnebago.
A few years ago, when my friends reminded me of my childhood love for the trails, I dug my skis out of storage. Dane County has a plethora of groomed paths to explore and it was time to embrace some new adventures.
My return to skiing began at Elver Park in Madison. There are several loops for varying abilities, lights for night skiing, and a rental shop – which I was thankful for once I attempted to use my 20-year-old equipment. Elver Park was also the perfect place for me to spend an afternoon teaching several friends the basics of cross-country skiing, which had become more than a way to stay active, but also a great way to be social.
I eventually expanded my adventures by heading over to Indian Lake Park, Monona Golf Course, and Blue Mound State Park. There are actually over 20 trails less than an hour from Madison. Each course has its own unique characteristics including candlelight night skiing events, roller coaster hills, long paths along shorelines, and double skied-in tracks for date night. Check out the Madison Nordic Ski Club website for more information about local course features and highlights.
Whether you want to try skiing for the first time or are thinking of participating in the Birkie (the largest, and one of the longest, cross country ski races in North America in Cable), Wisconsin really is, in my opinion, the perfect place to be.
A Wisconsin native, Amy works for the Department of Tourism and loves to explore the state. In 2012, she challenged herself to participate in one race every month for a year to pursue a healthier lifestyle. This included 5Ks, a canoe race, obstacle course, biathlon, triathlon, cross-country ski race, and her first 10K. Amy’s one-year deadline passed and she’s still going strong.