Well hello there, March! Is it that time already? Time to emerge from the darkness of winter? Already time to put the winter coats away and thaw out a bit? Just kidding, it’s about time. This winter feels like it lasted for 3 years. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve seen enough snow to last a lifetime.
And you know what else spring brings? It brings me closer to the wedding date! 93 days to go as of today (cue minor heart attack). Along with planning 1000 things related to the wedding, I’m also planning two honeymoons. Well, to be fair, one regular honeymoon and one mini-moon. We’re not going to Jamaica until early 2020 so, wanting to soak up the post-wedding bliss, we decided to do something sooner and smaller. The mini-moon was born!
Staying on brand, it was decided that the mini-moon would be an eight day hiking and camping trip through northern Wisconsin. Nine parks in eight days with lots of hiking miles and campfire meals in between.
The trip is divided between two areas, the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls area and further north (Superior and Bayfield).
- Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area.
First up, Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area. Located northwest of Eau Claire, this state recreation area has 10+ miles of trails through 15 acres of restored prairie. A few ponds, an observation tower, and trails with varying degrees of difficulty make this park a good first stop. Downside, there’s no camping at the park. We’ll camp at a nearby park for the first two nights. (Website/Map)
2. Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area
Next on the list, Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area. After a night of camping, we’ll spend the morning hiking the woods and grasslands. In addition to the Ice Age Trail running through the park, there is also 5+ miles of trail belonging to the park. And a nature center! Always a fun stop. While this park has three camping sites, it’s not on our lodging list. The sites are first come first serve, which isn’t a great option for someone who likes to plan ahead. (Website/Map)
3. Lake Wissota State Park
In addition to hiking at Lake Wissota State Park, we’re camping at the park for the first two nights. This park has many miles of trails, with some of it along the lake. For all the time I’ve spent in Chippewa Falls, I’ve never been to this park. About time! (Website/Map)
4. Brunet Island State Park
Leaving from a night of camping at Lake Wissota, we’ll travel to Brunet Island for a day of hiking before a night of camping. The park has 5+ miles of hiking, both on the island and off. (Website/Map)
5. Pattinson State Park
After the day at Brunet Island, we’ll drive the 2 and a half hours further north to Pattinson State Park. With both waterfalls and hiking trails, I have to say I’m excited for this park. According to the website, many trails are closed due to storm damage, so it’s unknown how much hiking is actually open at the park. (Website/Map)
6. Amnicon Falls State Park
Another park with waterfalls on the way is Amnicon Falls State Park. While this park has obviously gorgeous scenery and plentiful camping, the list of trails (under 2 miles) make it only a quick stop on our adventure. After this day, we’ll spend a well deserved night sleeping in a hotel. (Website/Map)
7. Brule River State Forest
Being a state forest with lots and lots of land, Brule River has many miles of hiking trails in several different sections. The forest stretches all the way to Lake Superior, with a lot of stops along the way. This section might prove to be the most difficult part of the trip to plan as it has several different hiking maps and possibilities. (Website/Map)
8. Big Bay State Park
After spending a night in Ashland, we’ll drive to Bay Field and take the ferry to Madeline Island. The park has 5+ miles of trails, including a boardwalk. Surrounded by water, I’m exited to see the beauty of the park. (Website/Map)
9. Copper Falls State Park
Last but not least, on the way home is Copper Falls State Park. I really hope we have the energy to finish this one out. While several waterfalls and multiple miles of trails around them, this park could easily be one we spend all full day at. (Website/Map)
After the last park, we will drive home for some well deserved rest. Whew! While this trip won’t be relaxing, it will be a great chance to see some of the parks further away from home.
Like I said, I haven’t been to any of these parks. I welcome tips, must see recommendations, and opinions on what can be skipped.