Wisconsin Hiking: Nordic Trails

Recently, I had the pleasure of hiking 9 miles of the Nordic Trails with my wife and best friend. We spent the day laughing and swapping snacks, while walking. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, a challenging hike, and a fantastic post-hike meal at img_9430The Picnic Basket. I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday!

The Nordic Trails feature extra wide, grassy paths lined with tall, skinny pine trees and plenty of easy-to-read signage. Wooden benches are dotted along the trail, and at the trailhead you’ll find a large parking lot and bathrooms with vault toilets and hand sanitizer.

img_9419Difficulty

The DNR website says that the 9.5 blue loop is an intermediate-level hiking trail. I would definitely agree. This has been the one of the hilliest, and most difficult trails I’ve been on in Wisconsin, second only to the John Muir Trail (which is right across the street!), and some parts of the Ice Age Trail.

If you are a beginner, enter this trail with warning. There are a lot of hills, so expect a challenge. Seasoned hikers, this trail doesn’t compare to the intensity of the hiking you might do out East, or in the West, but it takes full advantage of the uneven landscape of Wisconsin’s kettles (the result of glaciers that have melted long ago).

Nordic Trail Loops

Easy Trails: img_9439

Brown – .7 miles

Purple – 1.7 miles

White – 3.2 miles

Intermediate Trails:

Red – 2.1 miles

Orange – 2.7miles

Green – 3.9 milesimg_9408

Blue – 9.5 miles

Activities

Hiking and cross country skiing and sledding

Limitations

No Bikes

Nearby Trails

I was so excited to find out that that the John Muir Trailhead is located right across the street. There, you can bike or hike, but don’t expect to have any alone time. It is one of the most popular trails in Wisconsin!

Directions to Nordic Trailhead:

  1. Drive South on US-41
  2. Take exit 4 onto I-43
  3. Drive 22 miles and take exit 38A onto WI-20
  4. Drive .3 miles and turn right onto state road 20
  5. Drive 7.8 miles and turn left onto state road 20
  6. Drive 1.6 miles and take a slight right turn onto US Highway 12
  7. Drive 2.0 miles and turn right onto county road H
  8. Drive 1.6 miles to the destination on your right

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Address

N9084 Cty Tk H

Whitewater, WI 53190

Fees

Entrance to this (and every) Wisconsin State Park will require a day parking pass or img_9423an annual parking pass. You can find information about sticker prices on Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources website.

Leave no trace

Recently, Wisconsin’s state park tax budget has been decreased to zero. This means that park entrance and camping fees will go up. The possibility of some parks workers losing their jobs or having their salaries slashed, is a real possibility.

This means that it is time for the volunteers and the visitors to step up. Please respect these beautiful parks! If you come in with trash, leave with the same amount of trash. If you see trash, consider picking it up and walking out with it. Practice the “leave no trace” policy. Basically, respect the park by being courteous to the plants, animals, and fellow humans.

Further Readingimg_9444

Trailville.com

 

Travelwisconsin.com

Nordicskiclub.org

 

I would like to pay tribute to the volunteers and park workers who put in hours upon hours to maintain these trails, for little or no money. Your efforts are appreciated by me and hopefully by anyone who uses the trails!

Thank you, thank you to my readers! I welcome you to return, anytime!

If you need me, I’m Two Tents Down!

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Wisconsin Hiking: Bong Recreation Area

The famous sign on Interstate-94

So you’re heading south on I-94 and you see that giant brown and white sign that says “Bong Recreational Area: Exit 340”. At some point in your life, you may have giggled a little. I certainly have! Weird thing is, I never actually knew dscn3000what this sign was all about. Recently a friend recommended I check out this so-called “recreational area”, so I did just that.

What is “Bong Recreational Area”?

It is exactly what is says it is: an area for recreation. Here, you can hike, ride horses, tear around on ATVs and snowmobiles, camp, swim, kayak, boat, canoe, hunt, fish, and more. Richard Bong State Recreational Area could appeal to anyone from a casual camper to an avid outdoorsperson.

Our hike

It was a mid-August afternoon, hot and sunny, when my wife I hiked the blue loop of the “South of Highway 142” trail section. Bong is definitely a dscn2940popular park. There were people everywhere! On the way to the bathroom, we saw a group of people chatting and walking. In the parking lot at the trailhead, we saw many more people, including a woman getting her horse ready for trail riding.

Humans were only some of many creatures we shared the blue loop with. We weren’t on the trail for more than two minutes before we spotted a handful of turtles and bull frogs in a murky pond. We enjoyed the view from the beautiful wooden foot bridge that stretched across the marshy area.

Hiking Trail Segments

North of Highway 142

  • Gray Trail (1.7 miles)
  • Yellow Trail (4.4 miles)
  • Orange Trail (6.4 miles)
  • Red Trail (8.3 miles)

South of Highway 142    

  • Green Trail (1.8 miles)
  • Blue Trail (4.2 miles)

Trail Difficulty

Like I said earlier, we hiked the 4-mile blue loop, South of Highway 142. This loop was very easy. It was well-marked and relatively flat. Even the most inexperience hiker could manage this trail.dscn2978

Address

Richard Bong State Recreation Area

26313 Burlington Rd.

Kansasville, WI

53139

Phone Number

262-878-5600

Trail information line

262-878-5600

Directions to Richard Bong State Recreation Area

(50 minutes from the East Side of Milwaukee)

  1. Follow I-43 South
  2. Take exit 312B to the right for I-94 / US-41 / I-43 toward Lincoln Ave./Becher St.
  3. Keep left onto I-94 E / US-41 S
  4. Take exit 316-319 to the right for I-94 E / US-41 S toward College Avenue (Follow for 20.4 miles)
  5. Take exit 337 to the right toward Mt. Pleasant
  6. Turn right onto 1st St. / CR-KR (Follow for 5 miles)
  7. Turn left onto US-45 / 200th Ave. (Follow for 2.5 miles)
  8. Turn right onto WI-142 / 15th St. / Burlington Rd. (Follow for 4 miles)
  9. You’ve made it!

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Trail Fees

A daily or annual admission sticker is required to enter the park. We already had one on our car, so the park worker just waved us in.

dscn3015All state parks require a daily or annual admission sicker on each vehicle in the lot. These fees go to maintenance of trails and facilities, and other things within the state parks. You can find information about sticker prices on Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Website.

There are multiple ways to purchase your sticker. You can go to a participating local business, or purchase a pass online, but I think it’s easiest to do it right at the park. To do this, try to find an open park office, fee collectors at the park entrance, or a self-service payment tube on the premises.

The self-service payment tubes are usually located at the entrance to each trail section. You just grab a form and a pencil, fill out the form, put it all in the provided envelopes, and drop it into the tube. Lastly, put your ticket stub in your car window, and wait for your amazingly-designed Wisconsin State Park sticker to come in the mail.

Have you ever been to Bong Recreational Area? What do you like to do there?

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

If you need me, I’m just Two Tents Down!

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Wisconsin Hiking: Glacier Hills County Park

Last weekend we wanted to go hiking, but we had a limited amount of time. State park trails were out of the question, because even the closest ones were at least 45 minutes away. So on the hot and sunny Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, we headed over to a Washington County park nearby.IMG_8896

Glacier Hills County Park is just two miles East of Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, and it is a perfect place to spend an afternoon hiking, playing in the jungle gym, hanging out in the picnic area, or going swimming in Friess Lake. It’s such a beautiful spot, many people choose this park to host weddings or have family photos taken.

Saturday marked the second or third time I’ve hiked this trail, and it was every bit as beautiful as the first time through. The beginning of the trail hub leads away from the entrance driveway, near the south end of the parking lot. It winds around to a grassy hill, strapped with a wooden bench and a breathtaking view of a great, green meadow, surrounded by a forest of trees. Even if you’re not into hiking, that view alone would be enough to draw anyone to this park.

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Trail Difficulty

I chose to hike the black loop. I would give this 2.6 mile (4.18 km) trail an “easy to moderate” difficulty rating. There were a few mild hills, but I think the hike would be manageable by most people.IMG_8888

Trail Maintenance/Navigation

I was really satisfied with the width and overall accessibility of the whole length of this trail. I appreciate the level of care that goes into keeping this park beautiful, and I find the trail maintenance to be a happy medium between manicured and overgrown.

Navigation was not an issue, and I’d encourage anyone to take a stroll down the black loop. The markings along the trail were easy to spot, and located fairly close together. There was only one moment along the path where we were questioning the direction. Of course, there were definitely areas along the way that made me want to get lost!

Fees

Free to enter, park, hike, play, and enjoy!

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Address

1664 Friess Lake Rd

Hubertus, Wisconsin

53033

Location & Directions

Here are the GPS coordinates to Glacier Hills County Park:

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Directions from I-45:

  1. Head North on I-45 (towards Fond Du Lac)
  2. Take Holy Hill exit (Hwy 167) and turn left
  3. Drive 5.6 miles and turn left onto Friess Lake Road
  4. Drive .4 miles and turn left into Glacier Hills County Park

Here are the Bing maps directions to Glacier Hills, taken from the Washington County website.

Glacier Hills reference materials:

Washington County IMG_8892

 

Travel Wisconsin

 

Facebook

 

The Knot

 

Washington County Parks

Where is your favorite hiking spot in Wisconsin?

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Thank you to all who read my blog! I’ll be back with another one, soon!

Until next time, I’m… Two-Tents-Down-Logo-Color-CROPPED