In late winter, when many outdoor enthusiasts are hanging up their equipment and thinking of spring, hikers are contemplating one simple question: hiking boots or snowshoes?
Hiking is truly something you can do all year long. There’s no terrain or trail condition in Wisconsin that cannot be conquered by an intrepid traveler. And with snowshoes, even the most remote patch of wilderness is open to exploration.
Snowshoeing is, in essence, hiking with special footwear. A hiker with a pair of snowshoes will have no trouble planning an enjoyable late-winter hiking getaway. Here are three ideal trails for late winter walks, whether the trails are clear or there’s snow on the ground.
Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest
Located north of West Bend, the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest offers hikers 30,000 acres of rolling hills, quiet forests and beautiful trails. Numerous lakes dot the landscape, products of the last ice age. The forest offers a number of trail systems for hiking, including the Butler Lake Trail, Greenbush Trails, New Fane Trails, Parnell Tower Trail, Tamarack Trail and Zilmer Trails. Find maps for all the trails in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area
Another great hiking destination with numerous small lakes is the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area in Vilas County. The 2,200-acre property protects 15 wild lakes and ponds. It is a real gem and an outstanding place for hiking and snowshoeing. The wildlife viewing here is extraordinary, with everything from bald eagles to rarely seen species such as the Canada lynx and even moose. See a map of the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area.
During the late winter, the trails at the 280-acre Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point are ideal for hiking or snowshoeing. The reserve is a natural oasis and a haven for wildlife. Five miles of trails run through the Schmeeckle Reserve. These trails connect with the 30-mile Green Circle Trail, which winds its way through the Stevens Point area. There’s a lot of territory for a hiker to cover. See a map of the Schmeeckle Reserve.