Whether you’re an avid hiker or just want to get out in the fresh air and scenic views, these four hiking locations offer more than just a stroll through the woods. They traverse geographical aspects of Wisconsin you might not have known existed. Marshlands, bluffs, waterfalls and national forests, these hiking trails feature four different geographical perspectives. So grab your water bottle, sturdy shoes, optional walking stick and hit the trail.
For bird lovers, this is your oasis. Located in southeast Wisconsin, this 32,000-acre wildlife area is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States and is known for being a home for more than 305 species of birds. From blue heron, to cranes, ducks and geese, you are bound to see many of them, especially in April and May during peak spring migration.
Hiking in a marsh doesn’t require waterproof boots. There are five miles of designated trails, offering hikes through three main habitats of Wisconsin –wetlands, woodlands and grasslands. The three trails are the Quick’s Point Loop (1.9 mi), Indermuehle Island Loop (.8 miles) and Bachhuber Loop (2.3 mi).
Head to where ancient seas and glaciers shaped the geography of Wisconsin, and Native Americans, explorers and fur traders created the history. Wyalusing State Park sits at the junction of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers and offers some breathtaking views along trails and atop cliffs. Find the historical marker at Point Lookout that signifies the spot where Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet once likely stood, overlooking the vast rivers below in June of 1673, some 340 years ago.
More than 14 miles of trails are available for hiking at Wyalusing State Park. Trails range from the short Bluff Trail, with a visit to a small limestone cavern, all the way to the Mississippi Ridge Trail, which follows the Mississippi bluff for two miles with spectacular views. Find small waterfalls (Sand Cave Trail and Sugar Maple Nature Trail), Native American historical burial mounds (Sentinel Ridge Trail), and wildlife including turkey (Turkey Hollow Trail) among the Wyalusing state trails. Trails are fairly rigorous with some stairs.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,000-mile footpath that outlines the area of Wisconsin that was sculpted more than 12,000 years ago by glaciers. From the Minnesota state border to Potawatomi State Park on Lake Michigan, the Ice Age Trail twists and winds its way through the state.
More than 23 miles of the Ice Age Trail exists in Chippewa County making the Chippewa Moraine David R. Obey Ice Age Interpretive Center located in New Auburn a good place to start. It sits on top of an ice-walled lake plain made from glacial remnants and is the gateway to three self-guided loop trails: the Mammoth Nature Trail (.75 miles), Dry Lake Trail (1.8 miles) and Circle Trail (4.5 miles). The views in this area are simply breathtaking and it’s well known among avid hikers. With hilly terrain created by glacial sheets, you’ll navigate kettle lakes, hummocks, plains and no doubt the wildlife, too. And these trails are for hikers only, so they are well preserved and quiet for a peaceful hike.
Discover waterfalls just two hours north of Green Bay in Florence County, home to seven breathtaking waterfalls that cascade, tumble and roar through two of the state’s designated “wild rivers,” the Pine and Popple. Over 50 percent of the land in Florence County is accessible to the public.
Start your hike at LaSalle Falls, the highest and most impressive waterfall in the area. At 22-feet tall, it sits on the Pine River, an undeveloped river with rustic footpaths. A 2.2 mile round-trip hike will take you through a scenic gorge in the wooded forest. Follow your ears and the sound of rushing water will guide you to your end destination. At the brink of the falls, a steep scrabble will take you down into the gorge. Climb closer to the base of the falls for the most rewarding view and end to your hike.