It’s official, the 2021 camping season has begun and the first camping trip is already in the books! I have camp sites booked on weekends from May through October but this one wasn’t even on the calendar. Spontaneous bonus trip! That’s to be expected though since the weather can be so unpredictable, evident by the frost advisories this entire week. Being a weekend in May with a nice forecast, we took advantage and booked a site.
The season started at Pike Lake, one of the numerous units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. This park is an easy 45 minute drive from Milwaukee and an hour and twenty minute drive from Madison.
The first thing I noticed about the park was it’s proximity to Hartford, Wisconsin. This town is small, but not that small, and is immediately outside the park’s boundary. (See the map below.) It’s so close that a gas station and strip mall are visible from one of the hiking trails. This location is either a plus or minus, depending on your view and what you’re looking for in a camping location. The town is right there if you need anything but also right there so you’re camping a minute outside a town. Some of our campground neighbors took advantage of the proximity and left their breakfast and campfire coffee to Dunkin’ Donuts.
To finish up the tale of the mini-moon, we end with the review of the campsite at Big Bay State Park. In case you missed it, we arrived at Madeline Island late in the afternoon and checked into our site for the next two nights. In addition to camping at the park, we also hiked. Check out those recaps and reviews here with PART 1 and PART 2.
The park has 60 campsites with some electrical sites, some walk-in sites, and some group camp sites. There are both flush and vault toilets with showers available. The park sells firewood in a shed near the park office. (Bonus, the woodshed had a box of free newspaper for fire starting It was the local island newspaper. Sure, the news was a few months old, but it was interesting to read the happenings of the locals.)
I love a campfire with a view. Seclusion from other people is nice but if I have to trade it for a spectacular sight while I’m cooking dinner or having a post-hike beer, I will. (Looking at you, Wyalusing Ridge Campsites.) Luckily this site didn’t make me decide and gave me both a view and semi-seclusion.
After hiking the park and exploring the local town of Cornell, we camped at Brunet Island State Park. (If you missed my post on the hike, you can check it out here.) As you can see in the campground map below, our campsite (site #33) was on the Chippewa River side of the park.
Some of my favorite campsites in Wisconsin have stunning views without having to leave the comfort of the fireside. One of these sites is at Buckhorn State Park. With the right planning and a little insider knowledge, you can enjoy views of the stunning Wisconsin River on a private beach.
Late July I visited Wildcat Mountain State Park for a hiking and camping trip. While the hiking was gorgeous, it was made more challenging by the hot and humid conditions of the day. Those conditions continued on into the night, making sleep a challenge as well. It’s hard to believe now, looking outside to a 21 degree morning covered in frost, that it was only a few months ago I slept on top of my sleeping bag inside a tent and still felt uncomfortable from the heat.