Wisconsin’s Mirror Lake State Park — Winter Edition, My Second Winter Hike

This year was the first time I attempted a real winter hike. I know, that’s kind of sad and disgraceful for someone who loves to hike and lives in Wisconsin. The experimental winter hike took place at Lake Kegonsa State Park on a 31 degree day. Looking back, it was a pleasant enough experience and I didn’t totally hate it. (Honestly, I kind of thought that I would.) Well, I’m happy to say that I completed yet another winter hike the following week!

Winter hike number two took place at Mirror Lake State Park outside of Baraboo. Mirror Lake is a park that I’ve been to before, back in May 2016 to be exact. I even have an old blog post about it. (Looking for this post I discovered that I started Hiking Hungry in 2015. That’s nuts!)

I reviewed the winter park map before I left and planned a route, making sure to note which trails were for hiking and which were for skiing. (The winter is their time to dominate the trail systems.) We planned to hike the Lakeview Trail to the Echo Rock Trail, maybe including the Sandstone Trail if we weren’t too cold.

After finding the appropriate parking area, we were off. These lots were very clearly marked with signs for hiking, skiing, or both.

Being at a park I wasn’t as familiar with, the first thing I noticed is that finding the actual trailhead was difficult. Normally there is a large sign and an obvious place to start. This wasn’t the case with the area we started. I relied heavily on the map for a bit.

After hiking along the frozen lake, we reached the boat launch. This was a popular spot for ice fishing and walking on the lake.

From an overlook point I noticed this structure of true dedication to ice fishing. All I could think of while seeing this was Matt Foley (Chris Farley) living in a van down by the river. I had to watch that sketch after typing this. Comedic genius.

Now to Echo Rock! This scenic formation has a trail named after it, so you know it’s cool.

The trail curls around the outside of the rock allowing you to explore it from all angles.

Like I said, exploring it from all angles.

Cute little puppy face!

On one side of Echo Rock, Ishnala Supper Club is visible through the trees. Open seasonally, I’ve wanted to stop by this place ever since I first learned of it on this very trail 5 years ago. I have a camping trip scheduled for the park this summer. Maybe dinner on the first night will finally be the time!

Continuing on the trail we started to loop back towards the parking area. This bridge was especially stunning against the snow-white backdrop.

After this we trekked back to the car. Full disclosure, we got a little lost on the way back. (Curse you winter park maps!) We found ourselves wandering around the campground with a few people (who were also lost) following us. We eventually found our way back but I am sorry for the poor directions we provided to the other group.

So winter hike number two is in the books. I can say with certainty that I didn’t completely hate it. This day was a little colder than the first but variation in scenery made it worth it. With the right investment in cold weather hiking gear, I’ll be all in on this in no time!

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