Wisconsin Hiking: A Hike of Fireworks and Ice

Fourth of July on the Ice Age Trail

Fireworks? Definitely. Ice? Not so much. We started the Loew Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail in the early afternoon. By the end of mile one, I was glistening as a result of hard work on a hot day—in other words, I was a full-on sweaty mess!

Let me paint a prettier picture. We were hiking the Ice Age Trail in the Pike Lake Unit of Wisconsin’s gorgeous Kettle Moraine State Forest. The Oconomowoc River flowed parallel to the trail for the first mile, or so. Tall grass and cat tails decorated the river banks, and bullfrog-inhabited, green, bubbly swamp patches separated the river and the trail. The frogs generously sang us a song as we passed through the area, so we snapped a few photos and kept on walking.

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We hiked to a lovely soundtrack. Among the many voices were the calls of bullfrogs, the chirps of birds, the pattering of chip monk feet, and the random bang of fireworks in the distance.

After exiting the area along the river, the trail opened up to a spectacular field of tall grass, dotted with rainbows of wildflowers. To our right were patches of berries. There were quickly ripening raspberries low to the ground, and bushes of bright red round berries above them. To the left was a great field with a big, white farmhouse in the distance, and a line of old trees behind it. Way beyond them, was the beautiful Basilica of Holy Hill.

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Trail Difficulty

Easy/moderate for a few hilly spots

Trail Fees

  • No trail fees
  • Vehicle sticker not required

Pros

  • Variety of scenic views (Oconomowoc River, Holy Hill, etc.)
  • Good level of trail maintenance
  • Low traffic on trail
  • Beautiful, donated wooden benches located in scenic viewing areas

 

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Cons

  • Horrible mosquito pockets

Location & Directions

GPS Coordinates

006

Address

6186 County Line Rd

Hartland, WI

53029

Detailed driving directions:

  1. Take I-45 North
  2. Take County Line Road/HWY Q Exit
  3. Turn left (West) and follow HWY Q for 11.2 miles
  4. Turn right onto County Road K (Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive) and enter Pike Lake Unit parking lot

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Reference Materials:

Every Trail

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Ice Age Trail Alliance

Wikipedia

Discover Wisconsin

Which Ice Age Trail sections have you hiked?

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As always, thank you so much for reading!

Please direct questions, comments, or concerns to the comment section or to my email address: twotentsdown@yahoo.com.

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

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Wisconsin Camping: Mauthe Lake Campground

My first camping trip of 2016 came the second weekend in June. Of course my wife and I had already camped in the yard several times this spring, but our trip to Mauthe Lake was the first time we’d picked a campground, made a reservation, packed up all of our gear, and took a weekend away from our everyday norm.

It was a lot different than pitching a tent at home. This camping weekend was a blur of weather and activities. We braved temperatures between 50 and 100 degrees, wild bolts of lightning, insects-a-plenty, kids-a-many, neighboring camping groups by the dozen; all the while enjoying a much-needed adventure!

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The Arrival

The night we arrived, we were barely able to finish setting up camp before a massive thunderstorm hit. We couldIMG_8912 see the thick clouds rolling in from a great distance, while shades of blue and gray flooded the sky. Then the winds arrived and blew our tent into a horizontal position—putting the poles to the ultimate test! The storm reached down and plucked several of our bent and worn stakes out of the ground, leaving our protective ground tarp exposed to the elements.

Meanwhile, the last members of our group were arriving. They were in mid set up of their tent, when the winds started hacking away at our campsite. While Rhesia ran to reset our tents stakes, I helped our friends get their tent in an upright position. Then Rhesia and I spent some time restructuring of our tarp shelter, which we had originally jimmy-rigged to hang over the picnic tables with bungee cords, rope, stakes, and found sticks.

It was a wild arrival, nothing short of fantastic. You see, this wasn’t the first time my wife and I camped in crazy weather. Our camping trip in the Lake District of Northwest, England was a doozy.  That weekend we slept next to a river that doesn’t actually exist, and hiked over three miles in footy pajamas and cheap Wellies—while carrying a waterlogged double sleeping bag, leather jackets, and a borrowed, broken tent. Luckily, this time around we were prepared with more experience and better gear.

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Site number: 536

Cost: $23/night

Site type: Standard; Non-electric

Check-in time: 3:00 P.M.

Check-out time: 3:00 P.M.

Site amenities: fire pit, picnic table

Max # of cars: 2 compact/full-sized cars

Max # of people: 6

Distance from facilities:

  • Male/Female (multiple stall) bathroom: 1 min walk
  • Female (personal) bathroom: 1 min walk
  • Showers: 5 min walk
  • Water source: 1 min walk
  • Beach: 20 min walk

Neighboring areas:

  • North: walking path to showers; neighboring campsite
  • South: trees
  • East: grassy field of public space
  • West: trees

Campsite Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Trees on two sides
  • Close to bathrooms/water source/path to showers/Ice Age Trail entrance

Cons

  • Lack of privacy
  • Very small: This site could accommodate two cars and two tents, tops. With one car, you could fit three tents.
  • Excessively deep fire pit: We struggled to get air to our fire, causing it to keep dying out.

Overall campsite comments:

Our group was a little disappointed with our campsite (not the campground). We were out in the open, with a path to the showers on oneDSCN2790 side and a field directly in front of our site. This was the spot where groups of kids would come to play.

All of the campsites in the 530s surround the grassy field, and seem perfect for groups with children. Most of the 540s are in a separate section surrounded by trees. They have more privacy, and are even closer to the entrance to the Ice Age Trail (but further from the beach and the showers).

Reserve America suggested that site 536 could accommodate up to two cars and six people. I think this information was a little misleading. With two cars in the campsite, we definitely couldn’t fit more than two tents. I think the site description should [more accurately] suggest that you can either have two cars and two tents, or one car and three tents.

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Mauthe Lake Campground

(Information obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.)

Name: Kettle Moraine-North: Mauthe Lake Campground

Address:

N1490 County Rd. GGG

Campbellsport, WI

53010

Phone Number: (262)626-4305

Campground Details

Amenities in camping areas:

  • Vault toilet bathrooms with toilet paper and hand sanitizer
  • Private shower rooms with locking doors
  • Water source and water fountain

Amenities by lake:

  • Public beach
  • Picnic area
  • Flush toilet bathrooms with running water and soap
  • Changing room with shower stalls
  • Concession stand with deep-fried appetizers/ice cream/soda/chips/burgers/hot dogs
  • Hiking trails
  • Parking areas
  • Boat launch ramp
  • Firewood vending machine (No, I’m not joking!)

Campground pros and cons

Pros

  • Clean, well-stocked bathrooms
  • Clean and easily accessible shower facilities
  • Friendly park workers

Cons

  • Very busy in the camping areas, and even busier at the beach

Overall campground comments:IMG_8915

We had a fantastic time at Mauthe Lake campground, from the moment we arrived. Check-in was a breeze, and the park workers were friendly and helpful.

On the second night, we were approached by two park workers. They checked our ids and asked us to turn off our music. They were very polite and we had no problem complying.

Making a reservation:

I reserved the site on ReserveAmerica.com. It was a pretty smooth process. I searched for a site within the Mauthe Lake Campground by looking at a map of all the campsites. Then I picked the dates, and paid with my credit card. The hardest part was finding an available site, because I waited so long to make my reservation. I’d recommend reserving your site at least three weeks in advance.

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Until next time…

Campers, I hope you’ll make time to visit this lovely campground! Of course, If you have any questions you can leave a comment below, contact me on social media, or email me at twotentsdown@yahoo.com.

I’ll leave you with a question: What is your favorite Wisconsin campground?

Thank you so much for reading!

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

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Wisconsin Hiking: Kettle Moraine State Forest – Greenbush Trails

Hiking in the Greenbush Area

A few weeks ago, my wife and I headed out on a day hike in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Park. The park is filled with picnic areas, scenic views, winding hilly roads, and beautiful trails used for a variety of sports. Needless to say, we love going there!

Unfortunately, we have gotten lost on our way to this park almost as many times as we have been hiking in it. The directions on the DNR website are so basic, I’ve ended up miles out of my way, and had far too many minutes stolen from my hikes.

So this time, I decided that I would document our route to the Greenbush area (from Milwaukee), so that other people don’t have as much trouble finding it. Oddly enough, we did not get lost this time, and instead found our way perfectly, with no wrong turns or hang ups. Murphy’s Law, right? Not really!

Rhesia went out of her way to figure out the basic area we needed to get to, looked up a map, zoomed in, found an intersection, typed that into Google maps, and finally Siri took us to where we needed to go. Not so simple.

GPS Coordinates of the Greenbush picnic area

Here are the exact coordinates I expertly triangulated (Just kidding! I just used the compass app on my iPhone thanks to theses instructions.):

You can enter these GPS coordinates into Google Maps or a maps app on your Smartphone. If step-by-step street directions are more your thing, I’ve also included some of those below.

Directions to Greenbush picnic area

I took the photo to the right, as I was getting out of the car. This is the view from the small parking lot. A short walk up that path, are bathrooms and a bulletin board with a map of all the trails in the area, and some ever-changing park alerts.

But you have to get there first! Below, I’m going to offer you Siri’s directions, with my own little tidbits added in.

These are directions from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the Greenbush Area parking lot on Kettle Moraine Drive in Campbellsport, Wisconsin:

1. Head North on I-43 (towards Green Bay).

  • Stay on I-43 for about 23 miles.

2. Take Exit 97 (towards Plymouth), which is called Hwy 57 North.

  • You’ll be on this path for another 23 miles.

3. Turn left on 23 West (towards Greenbush).

  • This turn will come about a half mile past a Fleet Farm on your left hand side.
  • Stay on 23 West for about 7 miles.

4. Turn left onto County Road T.

  • This turn comes just after a quarry on the right and a trailer park on the left,
  • Look for a green sign that says “Greenbush”.
  • Stay on County Road T for about 1.2 miles (through the tiny town of Greenbush)

5. Turn left onto Kettle Moraine Drive.

  • Follow this road for 1.7 miles until you see a picnic area on your right hand side.

Greenbush Picnic Area

You’ve made it! This quaint and beautiful picnic area is a hub for so many trails. There are tables and bathrooms, and plenty of space to spread out.
Note: If you’re parking a car in the lot, you must have a Wisconsin State Park sticker on your window. If you don’t have one, you can apply for one on the spot. There are applications and a deposit bin available for the convenience of last-minute visitors of the park. This method is based on the honor system. When you see how beautiful this State Park is, I hope you’ll be as inspired to honor it as I was.

Pictures on the trail

I’ve had the pleasure of hiking in this area last winter, during the summer, and again in the fall. It is beautiful in any season!

Thank you for reading!

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