Summer Hiking Preview, a 2019 Bucket List of Parks

You guys, I’m getting married in 27 days.

That’s craziness. As excited as I am to spend the day with family and friends, I’m also excited for it to be over. Wedding planning takes a lot of time, time that I can think of 100 other ways to spend. Hiking is the first one that comes to mind.

Last winter I created a post of the places I wanted to visit that summer. While the post was born from cabin fever, I actually found it quite useful when it came time to make camping reservations or plan day-trips and referenced it several times.

My previous list was a list of 5 parks I wanted to visit in 2018, Peninsula State Park, Rock Island State Park, Wildcat Mountain State Park, Wyalusing State Park, and Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit. I’m pleased to say I made it to three out of the five!

5 Parks I Want to Visit in 2019
(in no particular order)

As always, photos are of parks I have not yet been to and are borrowed from the various WI DNR park websites.

Big Foot Beach State Park

This park didn’t make my list for a long time, although I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it was the overall popularity and tourism of Lake Geneva in the summer that made me assume this park would be too busy for my liking. While that might be true, I think it’s finally time to make the trip.

The park has 8.5 miles of listed trail, although most of the trails are overlapping and described as easy. Hey, if it isn’t a challenge, you can always throw in the 26 mile Lake Geneva Shore Path.

Distance from Madison: 1.5 hour drive
Trails/length: 8.5 miles
Camping: Yes, both drive in and walk to campsites, shower building
Park WebsitePark Map

Whitefish Dunes State Park

This Door County Park is on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula with a mile and a half of beach. It also has over 14 miles of hiking trail around the protected dune environment. This park sounds like it is incredibly scenic. With no camping at the park, this trip could be added into a larger Door County focused trip.

Distance from Madison: 3 hour, 20 minute drive
Trails/length: 14.5 miles
Camping: No
Park WebsitePark Map

Rib Mountain State Park

This park has the greatest elevation of any park on the list. It allows visitors to explore the billion-year-old hill by hiking the 13 miles of trail on and around it. With some steep and challenging sections on the trails, hikers are treated to scenic views of the surrounding area.

Distance from Madison: 2 hour, 15 minute drive
Trails/length: 13 miles
Camping: No
Park WebsitePark Map

Buckhorn State Park

Known for it’s shoreline, this park is a haven for boaters and fishers alike. The 6 miles of hiking trails meanders through a variety of ecosystems and areas of restoration. I’ve heard very little about this park, one of them being the mass amount of mosquitoes that call this area home in the summer. Getting here early or late season is probably the way to go.

Distance from Madison: 1.5 hour drive
Trails/length: 6 miles
Camping: Yes
Park WebsitePark Map

New Glarus Woods State Park

Last on the list is a park close to home. The 8 miles of trail sound pleasant as they travel through a variety of restored prairie and mature forest on rolling terrain.

While this park could easily be a day trip, the presence of New Glarus Brewing literally across the street makes me more inclined to consider this as an overnight camping trip.

Distance from Madison: 45 minute drive
Trails/length: 8 miles
Camping: Yes
Park WebsitePark Map

Now I’m even more excited than ever for summer. These 5 parks seem more than doable for 2019 but I’m always open to suggestions. What other parks should have made the list? Where else should I explore? Let me know!

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