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 what 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.
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 popular 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.
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)
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.
Richard Bong State Recreation Area
26313 Burlington Rd.
Trail information line
(50 minutes from the East Side of Milwaukee)
- Follow I-43 South
- Take exit 312B to the right for I-94 / US-41 / I-43 toward Lincoln Ave./Becher St.
- Keep left onto I-94 E / US-41 S
- Take exit 316-319 to the right for I-94 E / US-41 S toward College Avenue (Follow for 20.4 miles)
- Take exit 337 to the right toward Mt. Pleasant
- Turn right onto 1st St. / CR-KR (Follow for 5 miles)
- Turn left onto US-45 / 200th Ave. (Follow for 2.5 miles)
- Turn right onto WI-142 / 15th St. / Burlington Rd. (Follow for 4 miles)
- You’ve made it!
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.
All 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!
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