By Amy Bayer
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan and home to the northernmost section of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Sheboygan County abounds with natural beauty.
The area is known for Road America, one of the world's fastest permanent road racing tracks, and Whistling Straits, considered one of the best championship golf courses in the United States, as well as world-renowned resorts like The American Club in Kohler and The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.
In addition to these internationally recognized destinations, the area has impeccable parks, forests, rivers. As you head to Sheboygan County for your next adventure, here are seven natural wonders to explore.
Offering breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and sandy beaches to sink your toes into, this park is a perfect example of a world-class natural destination. The Cordwalk along the hills and valleys of the stabilized sand dunes run parallel to the beautiful blue shore. Explore the marshes, pine forests and fishing pond to round out your natural experience at this iconic state park, unlike any other in Wisconsin.
This 612-acre property is located in the southern portion of the county, just northwest of the village of Cascade. The parcel includes several springs which combine to form Nichols Creek and join the North Branch of the Milwaukee River. This portion of the North Branch is recognized by Wisconsin as an "Outstanding Resource Water" for its good quality and valuable wildlife habitat. The area surrounding the creek and river support numerous wildlife species including deer, rabbits and pheasants. While there are no designated hiking trails, the wooded property is great for wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing and trapping.
The Sheboygan Marsh Wildlife Area is just west of Elkhart Lake. There are 14,000 acres of land and water, including the largest restored wetland in the Wisconsin watershed of Lake Michigan. Sheboygan County owns more than half of the property, including the Broughton Sheboygan Marsh Park. From campgrounds to fishing piers, this park is a great haven for nature enthusiasts, paddlers, anglers and hikers. It's also home to Wisconsin's tallest wooden observation tower, which offers a panoramic view of the marsh from 80 feet above the ground.
4. Ellwood H. May Environmental and Evergreen Parks
The "Maywood" Environmental and Evergreen parks in Sheboygan are interconnected by a series of hiking and ski trails. These naturally beautiful tracts offer several miles of leisurely skiing, snowshoeing and hiking through 120 acres of forests, wetlands, prairies and ponds. The Pigeon River meanders through the parks and provide excellent fishing and kayaking opportunities. Experience a variety of trails from boardwalks to limestone and explore natural springs, gardens and wildlife.
Covering more than one hundred miles and 56,000 acres, the Kettle Moraine State Forest stretches through eight counties, with the northernmost region near Glenbeulah in Sheboygan County. The forest is a treasure trove of natural beauty with a myriad of opportunities to explore trails for snowmobiling, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and snowshoeing. The northern unit alone has more than 132 miles of trails varying in length and difficulty, although steep climbs or descents are common.
The Parnell Tower Loop is a 3.5-mile trail that connects with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and winds through thick trees. The trail starts with a staircase leading to the highest point of elevation in the forest, which is topped by a tower providing a birds-eye view of the glacial landscape. On a clear day, observers can see as far as 25 miles!
The 153-acre Gerber Lake Wildlife Area boasts pristine natural beauty. Hilly terrain, two small lakes adjoined by a channel, and forest and prairie habitats make this property truly exceptional. The Gerber Lakes are key elements of the Sheboygan River watershed and form the headwaters of Otter Creek. Maintained by the county, the property has opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, nature study, birding, hiking, snowshoeing and simple relaxation.
Roosevelt-Nutt Park is a 10-acre site in Plymouth with trails winding through a wooded area. In the spring, summer and fall, parking and access are available at the Nutt Hill Ski Area, and there are benches along the top of the hill overlooking a valley perfect for hiking through the forest. While in Plymouth check out the nearby H.M. Meyer Nature Park, a beautiful nature park that is also home to a disc golf course.
Want to discover more wonders? Check out these seven statewide natural wonders, and keep an eye on TravelWisconsin.com as we roll out more articles on scenic wonders by county.