Wisconsin’s Big Foot Beach State Park — Campsite Review, A Low Cost Option to Explore Lake Geneva

Sometimes a camping trip takes you way off grid and out of cell service. Sometimes a camping trip brings you closer to civilization. The latter seems to be especially true around tourist hot spots. Think Peninsula State Park in Door County, Rocky Arbor State Park in the Dells, and, the campground we’re talking about today, Big Foot Beach in Lake Geneva.

While it’s definitely nice to get away, disconnect, and forget the problems of the world for awhile, sometimes it’s nice to have a low cost lodging option near the hustle and bustle of restaurants, shows, beaches, and other summer fun.

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Geneva in the summer and are a fan of camping, I encourage you to check out Big Foot Beach State Park as a low cost lodging option while you explore the area.

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Lake Geneva, Wisconsin’s Shore Path — A Unique Shore Walk Full of Mansions!

Hikes come in all shapes and sizes. From that Colorado 14er to a boardwalk trail through a marsh, hiking can be whatever you make it. Which is why I present a unique form of hiking today: hiking through rich people’s backyards, legally, of course. If this sounds interesting to you, Lake Geneva’s Shore Path is your next hiking destination.

Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva is a popular tourist town that comes alive in the summer. After seeing the lake, the beauty and popularity of the area is apparent. Why this small Wisconsin town is filled with multimillion dollar mansions was less immediately apparent to me. The reason for this is the close proximity to Chicago. Beginning in the 1800’s, wealthy Chicago residents flocked to the lake to build stately homes after the Great Chicago Fire to escape the period of rebuilding. These homes became summer homes and the idea of Lake Geneva as a summer destination was born. So much so that Lake Geneva earned the nickname, “Newport of the West.”

So now we know why Lake Geneva is full of mansions, but why do we get the opportunity to walk on their lawns? Well, to keep history alive and to keep the lake accessible. Dating back to 2500 BCE, Native American groups used the lakeshore path as a way to travel between villages. Later, the lake shore path was used by workmen to travel to their site of work. Today, the lake shore path stays alive thanks to a local ordinance that requires property owners to maintain and keep the portion of the path that runs through their property open.

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Wisconsin’s Richard Bong State Recreation Area, The Park that Almost Wasn’t

From jet fighter base to bird sanctuary, Richard Bong State Recreation Area is the park that almost wasn’t. Named for Major Richard Bong, Wisconsin’s own American air hero, it’s fitting that the park almost operated as a jet fighter base between metro Milwaukee and Chicago areas. And when I say almost, I mean 72 hours. Three days before the concrete of the 12,500 foot runway was set to be poured, the project was nixed.

Who was Richard Bong? Major Richard Bong was known as the “Ace of Aces” for his spot as the top flying ace during WWII. He is credited with the downing of a confirmed 40 enemy aircraft during his fighter pilot career. In December 1944, he received the medal of honor from General Douglas MacArthur. What a cool way to honor this local man.

This park is a state recreation area rather than a state park and boy, does it live up to the name. The park’s website lists a whole host of activities, including ATV/UTV, biking, boating/kayaking, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, off-highway motorcycles, picnicking, swimming, training hunting dogs/sled dogs/falcons, horse riding, and winter activities. The list also contains a “special use zone” which, upon further inspection, is it’s own list of potential air activities, including flying model air planes, rockets, hang gliders, and hot air balloons. The area that was flattened for construction of the runway remains for use of smaller recreational craft. Seriously, what can’t you do at this place!

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore — Au Sable Light Station Trail, Shipwrecks, History, a Lighthouse, and views of Lake Superior

Some hikes I have a hard time finding enough photos to use in a post. This time I had the opposite problem. This short hike really packs a punch in terms of scenery.

The hike I’m talking about, the Au Sable Light Station hike, is found in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This hike is the section of the North Country Scenic Trail between the light station and Hurricane River campground.

We were lucky enough to be camping at the Hurricane River Campground so this hike was easily accessible. If you aren’t staying at the campground, there are parking lots just outside the camping area. You have to walk through the campground to access the trail.

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Log Slide Overlook, Grand Sable Dunes

I’ve experienced a lot of “wow” moments while hiking. Usually these come after a long, hard climb to the top of a hill, bluff, or mountain. Rarely are these moments gifted to you after a short walk from your car. In this case, it is. I am so excited to write this post, mostly so I can relive the experience. Welcome to one of my all-time favorite views, Log Slide of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Before this recent trip to the Pictured Rocks I had been to the area once before. While I hold a variety of memories from the initial trip, none of them stand out in my mind the way my visit to Log Slide does. When considering to make the trip a second time, remembering Log Slide was a big part of the reason for returning. I simply wanted to see it again. I wanted to see if I remembered it’s grandeur correctly. Boy, did I ever.

How to get there: The Log Slide Overlook is 43 miles from Munising. Everything is a drive when visiting the Pictured Rocks and coming from Munising, Log Slide is on the other side of the park. It’s worth the drive. The overlook area has a large parking lot and bathrooms.

After parking, walk the short trail to the overlook site. This trail brings you by old logging equipment and historical signs. The trail is dirt and sand, before changing over to all sand.

Let’s talk a little history before we get to the dune. Log Slide is aptly named for being the location of a log slide that lumberjacks would use to get lumber from the forests above down to the shore. While it’s gone today, there used to be a wooden chute down the length of log slide to help guide the logs. Legend has it that logs going down the dry chute would roll fast enough and cause enough friction that the chute would occasionally catch fire. Logs would end up in the lake where they were gathered and brought to the mill.

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Hiking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Chapel Falls, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, A Unique Waterfall

This summer I took a trip to Michigan’s upper peninsula to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This is an area rich with scenery, including numerous waterfalls. In another post, I covered Mosquito Falls, a waterfall accessible by foot in the Chapel Basin area. This is part two of that adventure. Chapel Falls, the other and larger waterfall in the area, starts from the same parking area.

To access both waterfalls, park in the Chapel Basin parking lot. The road to the parking lot is dirt and can be pretty rough in sections. I originally saw this information on the park’s website and I can now personally attest, this parking lot fills up fast so getting there early is recommended. Numerous hikes, including one of the more popular 10-mile hikes, begins from this parking lot. Remember that dogs are not allowed anywhere in the Chapel Basin.

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