By Amanda N. Wegner
Snowshoeing is a growing sport in Wisconsin. A great workout that doesn’t require technical skill, it’s an easy way to explore spaces and places touched by Old Man Winter. Unless specifically marked and groomed for another use, most snowshoe trails are open and ready for snowshoers.
Lakeshore Snowshoe Trail
When winter temperatures drop low enough, the sea caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore become spectacular ice caves. Snowshoers can access these crystalline caverns by trekking along the frozen shoreline of Lake Superior. Those a bit apprehensive about snowshoeing on the ice can hop on the Lakeshore Trail near Cornucopia. From Meyers Beach, the snowshoe trail winds along the bluffs for almost two miles before coming to a cave overlook. Braver souls can park at the end of Meyers Road and head northeast across the shore ice to the cliffs (about one mile). Stop at the Lakeshore headquarters in Bayfield to get directions and to check on ice conditions.
High Cliff State Park Snowshoe Trails
With 1,147 snowy acres atop the bluffs in the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park near Sherwood offers snowshoeing on the Forest Management and Lime-Kiln trails. One side of the 2.3-mile Lime-Kiln generally follows the lake, while the return traces the edge of the escarpment for which the park is named, with steep climbs, descents and stairways. Snowshoe rentals are available at the park office.
Peninsula State Park Snowshoeing
With four miles of snowshoe trails and an average snowfall of 50 to 60 inches per year, Peninsula State Park is a snowshoe haven. The White Cedar, Minnehaha and Sentinel Trails are all moderate, while the newer 1.5-mile Niagara Trail loop is a more difficult path. For both the Minnehaha and Sentinel Trails you can park at Eagle Tower; for the Niagara Trail, park at the Nature Center. For snowshoe rental, contact Nor Door Sport and Cyclery in Fish Creek.
Navarino Wildlife Area Snowshoe Trails
With more than 60 miles of snowshoe trails through its upland and lowland forests, sedge marshes, bogs and flowages, the Navarino Wildlife Area north of Shiocton offers nearly unlimited snowshoeing opportunities. Winter birders can expect to see hawks, partridge, sparrows, finches, grosbeaks and buntings. Resident mammals include whitetail deer, coyotes, beaver, fishers, badgers, black bear, and even snowshoe hares. The nature center rents snowshoes, as well.
Kettle Moraine State Forest Snowshoeing
John Muir and Emma Carlin beckon you to work up a sweat in southeastern Wisconsin near Eagle. Located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit, the Muir and Carlin trail systems are primo destinations for mountain bikers in the warmer months. But both are designated for snowshoers and winter hikers once the snow flies. Sections of each trail system range from easy to difficult. Backyard Bikes and Ski in nearby La Grange rents snowshoes.