As I continue working towards my goal of visiting every Wisconsin State Park, I sometimes wonder what rhyme or reason there is to the order in which I go. Turns out, there is no order. BUT if there had been an order, a logical one would be in order of date of establishment. If I had done that, Interstate State Park or Interstate Park, would have been first on my list.
Located directly across the St. Croix River from Minnesota’s Interstate Park, Wisconsin’s Interstate Park became Wisconsin’s first state park in 1900. (It was Minnesota’s second state park.)
As this park is a 4 1/2 hour drive from my home, we camped in the park and made a long weekend of the trip. The camping was…well, I’ll cover that in a different post. The hiking, though, that part of the trip was wonderful. Scenic and full of both natural and human history.
Frequently, a park has a niche, something it offers that makes it stand out from other parks. This niche is often what become designated as a park in the first place as someone loved this feature enough to share it with everyone. It could be anything, rock formations, Native American history, waterfalls, etc. A showcase of what the state has to offer.
Merrick State Park is no different. Nestled on a short stretch of a slough of the Mississippi River, it’s not surprising that this park is all about water. Water sports, water views, and water…camping.
I covered the minimal hiking at the park in a previous post. You can check it out here. This is a park for water lovers. Fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing enthusiasts will find plenty to fill their days with. I’m not a water enthusiast (yet) but I still really enjoyed this park. Not for the hiking, which is normally why I like a park, but for the unique camping it offers.
I love Door County. It’s one of those places that I only ever visit while in a vacation state of mind, so I only ever think positive things about it. Growing up outside of Green Bay and now living in Madison, getting there has always been a breeze. From family trips, to girls trips, to a couple’s getaway, it’s been a go to place for a quick yet memorable break.
Part of what makes it so great is the vast amount of things to do. There is seriously something for everyone. Every age, every interest, and every budget can find the perfect activity. I love that the area is a mix of settled civilization and natural/wild area. It’s cute tourist town meets Northwoods meets beach meets farmland. You can get outside and explore nature, stop at a brewery, and then head back to your cabin or lake house.
If you are looking to mix in some outdoor time into your next trip, and I hope you are, then I encourage you to consider Whitefish Dunes State Park.
I’ll be honest, the Kettle Moraine forest is kind of overwhelming to me. It’s so large and has so many different campgrounds and trail systems, I never feel like I know where I’m going or what I’m doing. When I make the choice to explore it, I just pick a place, do minimal research, and try it out. That’s how I ended up here, at Pike Lake!
The Kettle Moraine State Forest, or “the kettles,” is broken up into two units; the northern unit and the southern unit. The focal point of this trip, Pike Lake, is located in the northern unit, just outside the town of Hartford, WI. Covering more than 30,000 acres, the northern unit is the larger of the two and has some form of recreation for just about anyone. The Pike Lake Unit is only 678 acres of that 30,000 acres. See? Overwhelming!
Once upon a time I worked in the city of Beaver Dam, WI. Living in Madison, I didn’t love my 50 minute commute each way, but I did love my work. Part of my job allowed me to work in several of the local rural schools. While this meant even more driving on top of my commute, it also meant I could explore an area of the state I wouldn’t otherwise find myself in. It was these drives to the schools that brought me by and introduced me to the Horicon Marsh.
At 33,000 acres, the Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. This area was formed by glaciers and is known for its high volume of drumlins, or elongated small hills. (Fun fact, if you look up drumlins on Wikipedia, the first photo is of the Horicon Marsh.)
Door County is one of Wisconsin’s better known tourist destinations, famous for it’s coastal towns, cherries, apples, and fish boils. If you’re looking for an activity a little more in touch with nature while visiting Door County, you don’t need to look far. With 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Green Bay, a scenic park is never too far away. Among the numerous city and county parks, Door County is home to five state parks, making it the county with the most state parks in Wisconsin.
One of these parks is 1,200 acre Potawatomi State Park. Located on the southern end of Door County, this park sits on Sturgeon Bay (the water) and is near Sturgeon Bay (the city.) If you’re planning to camp at the park, check out my review of the campground and our campsite here.
In addition to camping, the park is popular for water sports and hiking. The park rents canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats, with a boat launch for easy access to the bay. The park does not have a swimming beach because of its rocky shoreline.
The park is also popular with hikers, both those planning to hike within the park and those planning to hike through the park. The park itself has nearly seven miles of trails but also contains the Ice Age Trail’s eastern trailhead with a 2.8 mile segment of the 1000 mile trail within the park boundaries. This segment is a good place to test out the trail and perhaps, someday, will be where you begin or end your 1000 mile journey.
Not feeling up to 1000 miles, we opted to try out some of the trails belonging to the park. While the Ice Age Trail has me thinking about my next great adventure, I’ll focus on Potawatomi’s trails for now.