Andrea Zani is managing editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
Let’s face it, sometimes winter is just too cold to be outside for long, but that’s no reason to shun the outdoors altogether. Even a quick adventure in the icy air can revive spirits and chase those winter blues. Try a short half-hour hike at one of Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks to lift your mood and beat cabin fever.
BIG MANITOU FALLS OVERLOOKS
Pattison State Park
This short trail offers several views of the falls in winter, traveling under Highway 35 via a pedestrian tunnel from the park's main picnic area.
BLACK WALNUT NATURE TRAIL
Perrot State Park
This half-mile self-guided interpretive loop has 20 stops on relatively flat terrain. Find out how Native Americans lived in this area, with guides available at the trailhead.
BOARDWALKS AND CORDWALKS
Kohler-Andrae State Park
Short trails are the name of the game at Kohler-Andrae, including: Black River Marsh Boardwalk, a quarter-mile accessible trail; Creeping Juniper Nature Trail, a half-mile cordwalk; Fishing Pond Trail, about a quarter-mile long with benches for resting; Marsh Trail, a half-mile forested trail; and Woodland Dunes Nature Trail, a 1-mile trail loop from the picnic area.
Lakeshore State Park
The east portion of the trail through Milwaukee’s urban state park is plowed in winter, with great views of the city skyline.
GROTTOS AND TUMBLED ROCKS
Devil’s Lake State Park
While some Devil’s Lake terrain has an expert-only feel, there are plenty of beginner options, even in winter. Try the Grottos Trail, about three-quarters of a mile along the south face of the East Bluff, or the Tumbled Rocks Trail, a 1-mile path following the lakeshore.
Peninsula State Park
This easy trail along the water connects the South Nicolet Bay campground and Eagle Trail. It’s a 1.4-mile out-and-back route, with parking available at Nicolet Beach and trail access near campsite 844.
Kettle Moraine State ForestNorthern Unit
Three nature trails make it easy to get outdoors in winter at the Kettle Moraine: the Moraine Natural Trail, under a mile starting at the Ice Age Visitor Center; the 1-mile Summit Trail; and the 2-mile Tamarack Trail, looping around Mauthe Lake.
Big Foot Beach State Park
For a quick outing, try the Orange Trail at Big Foot Beach, under a mile on flat terrain, found at the park’s east end.
PRAIRIE LOOP TRAIL
Yellowstone Lake State Park
Under a mile, this loop travels on rolling terrain through beautiful woodlands and prairies.
TOM ROBERTS NATURE TRAIL
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
This accessible half-mile nature trail offers an easy hike on a paved path winding through a mixed forest, with an overlook providing beautiful views of Muskellunge Lake.