July 25, 2011

Seven Short Hikes for Nature Lovers

Going for a hike in the woods doesn’t have to be an epic adventure. These hikes offer mini-adventures nature lovers a great way to get a taste of wilderness without having to bushwack their way through the forest. All you need for these short hikes is a good pair of shoes.

1. North Trout Lake Nature Trail, Boulder Junction – 1 mile
Located just four miles south of Boulder Junction on Hwy M, this trail offers a trail loop through a beautiful forest of tamarack and spruce. It’s just the right distance for a family hike. See trail map.

2. Holmboe Nature Preserve Trail, Rhinelander – 0.6 miles
Running through a dense forest along the banks of the Pelican River, this trail is an outstanding birdwatching opportunity. The trail is only minutes from downtown Rhinelander, but you’ll feel like you’re far out in the wilderness. Parking is available behind the Taylor Park Health Center. See trail map.

3. Awassa Nature Preserve, St. Germain in Vilas County – 0.5 miles
This trail offers the ultimate in accessibility as well as natural beauty. Hikers of every ability level will appreciate the level, wheelchair-friendly trail running through a mature forest. See trail map.

4. Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton – 3.3 miles
Covering more than 550 acres and surrounded by business and residential neighborhoods, Pheasant Branch Conservancy is the wild heart of Middleton. The main trail loop at the conservancy runs for 3.3 miles, but there are numerous short hiking trails branching off from the main trail. See trail map.

5. Great River State Trail, Onalaska – 24 miles
While this state trail runs for 24 miles, you don’t need to travel its entire length to appreciate the trail’s beauty. For a good, short walk, begin at the trailhead in Onalaska and walk north on the trail for about a mile. You’ll come to a stairway leading up the hillside. At the top of the hill, you’ll find Sunny the Sunfish, a giant fish sculpture. After a quick picture with Sunny, retrace your steps along the trail back to the trailhead. See trail map.

6. Riverwalk, West Bend – 3 miles
The community of West Bend is named for a westward bend in the Milwaukee River. The Riverwalk takes you along the river and features a number of outdoor sculptures. It’s a very unique walk. The trail begins in downtown West Bend.

7. Raven Nature Trail, Minocqua in Oneida County – 1.5 miles
This short nature trail is part of a larger 13-mile trail system. The nature trail takes you through pristine woodlands and features interpretive signs and benches along the way. See trail map.

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