MADISON – The Wisconsin State Park System is once again hosting First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. These hikes offer visitors an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature. In its biggest year yet, First Day Hikes will be happening at 17 state properties, spanning all four corners of the State. From Bong to Pattison, and Newport to Buckhorn, everyone’s invited to kick off 2018 on the right foot.
This is the seventh year Wisconsin has participated in the nationwide First Day Hikes campaign with 17 hikes statewide — the most ever offered. On Jan. 1, 2017, 679 participants hiked 1,748 miles at 13 different Wisconsin state park properties. Nationwide last year, more than 62,000 people took part in guided hikes that covered over 114,165 miles on 1,300 different hikes across the country, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.
There was a good turnout for the First Day Hike at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in 2016.Photo credit: Dave O’Brien
A 2018 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events and will be on sale at park offices.
In Wisconsin, 2018 First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:
- Buckhorn State Park – At Buckhorn State Park, we’ll be snowshoeing/hiking the 1.4-mile Central Sands Nature Trail. Bring your snowshoes, or check out a pair at the start of the hike (a limited supply of snowshoes are available). Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the south picnic shelter to warm up after the hike. Pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails. Meet at the South Picnic Shelter parking lot. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 608-565-2789. Email: Heather.Wolf@wisconsin.gov
- Devil’s Lake State Park – This year at Devil’s Lake, go on your own hike or participate in a guided hike that will start at 4 p.m. We’ll also have a campfire for you to warm up before and after the hike. Dress warm and bring your snowshoes (if we have snow). We’ll have snowshoes to loan as well. Meet at the Steinke Basin parking lot on Hwy DL. Time: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Phone: 608-356-8301. Email: SusanA.Johansen@wisconsin.gov
- Harrington Beach State Park – Celebrate the New Year with a hike through Harrington Beach State Park. Hikes will be self-guided so you may choose to hike as long as you would like! Drop in anytime between 1-3 p.m. at the Ansay Welcome Center for a warm fire, along with hot beverages and tasty treats. Trails are not groomed for skiing. Pets are not allowed on the White Cedar Nature Trail. This event is sponsored by Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Meet at the Ansay Welcome Center. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 262-285-3015. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interstate State Park Drop in to hike or snowshoe 2 miles at Interstate Park to see the frozen St Croix River, spring-fed ponds, frozen waterfall and the quarry where rock was taken to build many structures and trails by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Meet at the Group Camp. The hike/snowshoe will take place on the Silverbrook and Quarry trails. Dress for the weather. A guided hike will begin at 10 a.m. Time: 9-11 a.m. Phone: 715-483-3747. Email: Matthew.Densow@wisconsin.gov
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Lapham Peak Unit – Begin the new year outdoors! This year Lapham Peak will be holding two First Day activities. Start your morning bright and early with a First Day Ski. This event is a combined effort by the Peak Nordic Ski Club and The Friends of Lapham Peak Snowmaking Project. Drop in during the day to enjoy the man-made snow Nordic ski trails. Add your distance to the number of recorded skied kilometers for 2018! Bring water, food, headlamps (if you will be skiing when it is dark), and Nordic skis. Pets are not allowed on the groomed ski trails. Meet at the Evergreen Shelter and man-made snow loops. Reliable snow is a wonderful thing to get us all off the couch! Time: 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Then later in the day join members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance for their annual First Day Hike at Lapham Peak. Hike options of varied lengths will be offered to accommodate families, and those wanting longer walks. Warm up afterwards with hot beverages and snacks at the Hausmann Nature Center. Meet at the Hausman Nature Center parking lot. Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-594-6200. Email: email@example.com. A state park sticker is required for either event and can be purchased at the property.
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit – Hike or snowshoe a 4.5-mile or 2.5-mile loop on the Brown and/or Green Trail. The hike will be co-lead by the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Park Naturalist. Meet at the beach parking area by the north shelter. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Stop by the Forest Headquarters with a chance to warm up and drink hot chocolate. Admission stickers are not required for this event. Time: Noon-3 p.m. Phone: 262-670-3400. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit – Start the New Year off with a 4-mile hilly hike on the Scuppernong Trail through the Kettle Moraine. This wide cut trail is great for conversation as we walk and experience winter in the forest. Snowshoes are welcome (if needed). Pets must be leashed at all times. A 2018 Wisconsin State Park Sticker is required – you can self-register for one when you arrive (check or cash only). Hike will only be cancelled if weather is severely cold or roads are dangerous. Our trail hotline, 262-594-6200, will be updated if the hike is cancelled. Hike starts at 11 a.m. Meet at the Scuppernong Hiking Trails – North side of County Hwy ZZ, about 0.5 miles east of Hwy 67, 4 miles north of Eagle. Get Directions. Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone: 262-594-6200. Email: Amanda.Kutka@wisconsin.gov
- Mirror Lake State Park – Join us at Mirror Lake for an easy 2-mile hike through the park along the Echo Rock and Sandstone trails. See the lake and the beautiful sandstone rock outcroppings that surround Mirror Lake. Bring winter boots, snowshoes and hiking poles. Meet at the beach picnic area. Time: Noon- 2 p.m. Phone: 608-254-2333. Email: Rebecca.Green@wisconsin.gov
- Newport State Park – If getting more exercise is one of your 2018 resolutions, then join us for a New Year’s Day hike at Newport State Park! We will meet at parking lot #1 at 10 a.m. and plan to hike about 2 miles. The hike will be led by Newport Wilderness Society members Jean and Greg Wilde. Remember to dress for the weather. Bring a pair of snowshoes if the snow is deep. Join us for hot cider or hot chocolate in the park office after the hike. A 2018 vehicle admission sticker is needed and can be purchased at the park office. The hike may be cancelled if weather is severe. Time: 10 a.m.-noon. Phone: 920-854-2500. Email: Michelle.Hefty@wisconsin.gov
- Pattison State Park – At Pattison State Park, we’ll be snowshoeing/hiking the 2-mile Beaver Trail. Bring warm clothes, proper footwear and a camera as you enjoy the trail’s rolling terrain, some steep hills and steps, with views of Interfalls Lake, the Black River and the CCC bridge. Meet at the shelter building near the main parking lot. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: (715) 399-3111. Email: email@example.com
- Peninsula State Park – Be part of a nation-wide initiative celebrating state parks! Rejuvenate this new year by taking a family-friendly trek led by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Varying routes of 1 to 3 miles in length will take place on the Sunset Bike Trail and Weborg Marsh Trail. Warm up in the shelter afterwards with hot chocolate and cookies until noon. Participants are advised to bring a water bottle, binoculars and field guide, and to dress for the weather, with hiking boots or snowshoes. A state park vehicle sticker is required. No pets allowed. Sponsored by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at the Weborg Shelter. Time: 10-noon. Phone: 920-868-3258. Email: Jessica.Doell@wisconsin.gov
- Perrot State Park – Join us for a snowshoe hike at Perrot State Park. We will start at the Nature Center and go past our effigy mounds up to the Black Walnut Nature Trail. On our way back, we’ll stop at the observation deck and enjoy views of Trempealeau Mountain. After kicking off the snowshoes, we’ll enjoy a few s’mores and hot cocoa at the Nature Center. No pets allowed at this hike. Meet at the Nature Center. Time: 1-2:30 p.m. Phone: (608) 534-6409. Email: Lois.Larson@wisconsin.gov
- Red Cedar State Trail – On the Red Cedar State Trail, we’ll hike about 2 miles on the southern portion of the trail, where historic Dunn, bluffs and wildlife viewing will be featured. Pets are allowed on this hike. Please remember that hiking and pets are not allowed on the groomed portion of the Red Cedar State trail. Meet at the boat landing parking lot off County Highway Y at the Dunnville Wildlife Area and Red Cedar Trail. Time: Noon-2 p.m. Phone: 715-232-1242. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Bong State Recreation Area – Join in the celebration to start your year off right and learn a little about the park too! Meet at the visitor center for a 1.5-mile hike. Dress to be outside. Event will be cancelled only if a blizzard or bitterly cold. Time: 1-2 p.m. Phone: 262-878-5601. Email: Elizabeth.Goeppinger@wi.gov
- Stower Seven Lakes State Trail – Join us for the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail First Day Hike, Bike or Ski. Meet near Soo Line Park. Fat tire bikes and cross-country skis are welcome! You can choose your own distance between 1 and 22 miles (round-trip and back). Snowshoes will be available to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Boy Scout Troup 146 will be teaching campfire building. Create and enjoy delicious campfire treats. A 2018 State Trail Pass is required to bike or cross-country ski. Passes will be available and are valid for the calendar year on all state trails. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. Time: 10-noon. Phone: 715-268-0290. Email: email@example.com
- Straight Lake State Park – Start off the new year with a 1-mile hike around rainbow lake or enjoy the glacial landscape of Straight Lake on a 2.5-mile hike on the Ice Age Trail and Glacial Trail. A warming fire will be at the Rainbow Lake shelter along with hot drinks provided by the local Indianhead Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Snowshoes will be available first-come, first-served to borrow if there is enough snow. Make sure to dress for the weather. Event will be cancelled if weather is severe. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 715-483-3747. Email: Matthew.Densow@wisconsin.gov
- Willow River State Park – Please join us on this 2-mile hike on the Burkhardt Trail on the first day of the New Year! We’ll start at the river bottom and walk up to the woods to view some spectacular overlooks. You can even walk down to the falls on this hike. Bring your own snowshoes if you would like to help walk through any deep snow.. Email: Time: 2-4 p.m. Phone: 715-386-9340. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org