Hiking the Ice Age Trail Holy Hill Segment



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Ice Age National Trail - Holy Hill Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Holy Hill Segment

The Holy Hill Segment of the Ice Age National Trail is a 7 mile single track footpath through the Kettle Moraine region west of Milwaukee. The iconic Holy Hill Shrine with its twin towers that can be seen from several counties in all directions sits atop one of the tallest kames in this hilly terrain. Deep kettles and glacial lakes spot the low areas beneath dramatic mounds of glacial till. The trail cuts a winding path through this forested and hilly terrain.  

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Dunes Segment



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Ice Age Trail Dunes Segment in Two Rivers WI
Ice Age Trail Dunes Segment in Two Rivers WI

The Dunes Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trial is a 2.7 mile linear footpath through Woodland Dunes State Natural Area in Two Rivers WI. This trail features a surprising mix of natural sights: boardwalks through forested wetlands, deep old growth cedar forests, open prairies, and dense hardwood forest.

This short, flat, and relatively easy trail can be hiked by anyone of any athletic ability and is ideal for families with young children. An adjoining loop trail maintained by the Woodland Dunes Nature Preserve allows this trail to be done as a 3 mile lollipop.

The Dunes Segment connects the urban paved Manitowoc Segment with the trail town sidewalk route of the Two Rivers Segment. 

Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum in Milwaukee



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Portico of the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee WI
Portico of the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee WI

Perched on a the high bluff near Lake Park in Milwaukee, with unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, Villa Terrace was built as the home of A.O. Smith president Lloyd Smith. Today it is a public museum of decorative arts. It is open to the public for tours and browsing rooms which have been repurposed to art galleries. Villa Terrace is a Milwaukee landmark, recognizable from the lake front and Lincoln Memorial Drive by its signature Scaletta d'Aqua - a waterfall cascading down a staircase descending the bluff. 

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Merton Segment



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The Merton Segment of the Ice Age National Trail is roughly 3 miles of trail and 2 miles of precarious roadside walking. A short footpath follows the Bark River and then connects to the Bugline trail via Dorn Road. Most of the miles are on the paved Bugline Trail. Another short footpath cuts along next to the Oconomowoc River. Some scenic views are offered along the Bark River, but otherwise this trail is a here-to-there incomplete connection between the Hartland Trail and Monches Segment. 

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Delafield Segment



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Bark River on the Ice Age Trail Delafield Segment
Bark River on the Ice Age Trail Delafield Segment
The Delafield Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic trail is 2.8 miles of very easy walking along roads, a riverwalk and a paved bike path in Delafield WI. It connects the Lapham Peak Segment to the Hartland Segment. The town center of Delafield is quaint and offers locally flavored shopping and great restaurants. Long distance hikers can also stop to do laundry and refresh food and supplies. 

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Monches Segment



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Ice Age Trail Monches Segment
Ice Age Trail Monches Segment

The Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Trail is a 3 mile moderate level footpath in northern Waukesha County. It follows and crosses the Oconomowoc River. This woodsy trail winds through low lands before progressing up a level 5 mountaineering rated climb. 

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Loew Lake Segment



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Ice Age Trail Loew Lake Segment
Ice Age Trail Loew Lake Segment

The Loew Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail is a 4.8 mile linear footpath in the woodsy lake country on the county line of Waukesha and Washington Counties. It follows the Oconomowoc River north towards Loew Lake. Loew lake is a unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. 

A Zoo in Baraboo - Ochsner Park



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Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo WI
Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo WI

The Ochsner Park Zoo is a fee free zoological gardens in Baraboo WI. It has expanded from the two pens which housed a bear a goat in the corner of to park to a more comprehensive zoo with exotic animals as well as common Wisconsin wildlife.

Today you can see Black bears, arctic and gray wolves, white tailed deer, llama, snowy owls, goats, barred owls, great horned owls, brown capuchin moneys, a Canadian lynx, ducks, swans, prairie dogs, all while chickens roam the grounds. In 2018 a new River Otter Exhibit is scheduled to be opened. 

Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom



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Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in North Freedom
Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom

West of Baraboo, in the beautiful scenery of the Baraboo Range, the small town of North Freedom chugs to life each morning as tourists and railfans line up to ride a vintage train. The Mid-Continent Railway Museum displays restored rail cars, steam engines, diesels, snowplows, a vintage depot, and a village of restored railroad related buildings.

The highlight of a visit to the Railway museum is the chance to ride in vintage railcars on various themed adventures from the Pumpkin train to the Beer and Pizza Train. With close proximity to the tourist mecca of Wisconsin Dells, the trains at North Freedom are abuzz with laughing and smiling families on any given weekend. Visit the Mid-Continent Railway Museum Website to check out schedules and fees.

Hiking Ablemans Gorge



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Blast Shelter at Ableman's Gorge
Blast Shelter at Ableman's Gorge

Exposed rock faces create a dramatic gorge along the sleepy Baraboo River in Rock Springs. Ableman's Gorge is a natural cut into the Baraboo Range, an ancient quartzite formation, which pinches the Baraboo River, a railroad, and Highway 136 into a tight S curve.

A state natural area at the site of a former quarry and scientific research site preserves virgin forest along the steep Baraboo river banks and the rock formations in the former quarry. The site is also a designated national historic landmark honoring the seminal geological studies of Charles Van Hise. A popular artesian well is also located on the property. 

Hiking the Black Trail at Cave Point in Door County



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Cave Point County Park in Door County WI
Cave Point County Park in Door County WI

Cave Point is fast becoming one of Door County's most popular natural sights. Lake Michigan waves pound the rocky coastline here and have created wondrous sea caves. There are a few short trails along the bluffs at Cave Point, but an additional loop trail, the Black Trail, explores the hardwood forest set back from the shore and connects to the Whitefish Dunes State Park trail system.

The Black Trail is an adventure in its own right - and among the best nature walks in Door County. It is a 3 mile lollipop covering mild terrain. It begins and ends at the Whitefish Dunes State Park Parking Lot. 

Door County Hiking Trails



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Door Bluff Headlands County Park
Door Bluff Headlands County Park

Getting close to nature is one of the top reasons to visit Door County. The rocky Door peninsula juts out into Great Lake Michigan. Its natural scenery and vistas make for ideal hiking. The county is home to 5 large state parks - each with a network of hiking trails. The Door peninsula is also orbited by a number of islands waiting to be explored. This article spotlights some of the most popular hiking trails Door County.

Hiking the Dunes Cordwalk at Kohler Andrae State Park


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The Dune Cordwalk Trail at Kohler Andrae State Park in Sheboygan WI
The Dune Cordwalk Trail at Kohler Andrae State Park in Sheboygan WI

The Dune Cordwalk Trail is a 1.3 mile linear footpath through the Kohler Dunes State Natural Area at Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan. This unusual trail is surfaced with a string of cord wood planks pinned into sand dunes. The strange landscape of shifting ground makes walking this trail feel like exploring a distant planet.

Hiking at Plum Island in Door County



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Abandoned Coat Guard Lifesaving Station at Plum Island in Door County WI
Abandoned Coast Guard Lifesaving Station at Plum Island in Door County WI

Plum Island is located off the tip of Door County between Northport and Washington Island. Until recently it was the property of the Coast Guard which operated a range light and life saving station between the front and back door channels of Port Des Morts passage (translated to Deaths Door).

The Island was closed to the public until recently when the land was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is now open to the public throughout the summer months. But, getting there is still a trick. You'll need to motorboat, sail, or kayak to Plum Island if you want to trek it's 3 miles of hiking trails. 

Hiking at Ridges Sanctuary in Door County



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Ridges Sanctuary Boardwalk in Bailey's Harbor Door County WI
Ridges Sanctuary Boardwalk in Bailey's Harbor Door County WI

An unusual textured landform at Bailey's Harbor caught early attention from conservationists. As Lake Michigan receded over time it left behind earthwork impressions of waves - a series of parallel sand dune ridges and wetland swales. This landscape was difficult to build on, but it turned out to be the perfect refuge for rare plants and wildlife.

In 1937 The Ridges were protected as the first land trust in Wisconsin. Today 1600 acres of  pristine land and indigenous ecosystem are preserved. A nature center in Bailey's Harbor hosts most visitors and this is the starting point for a network of hiking trails that exceeds 5 miles combined. These walks are very easy with many of them being on boardwalks. 

Hiking Toft Point in Door County



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Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County

On the quiet side of Door County is a not often visited state natural area at Toft Point. There is a 1 mile linear hike (2 miles out-n-back) that cuts across this 700+ acre preserve. The trail passes beneath cedar, hemlock, white pine, and sugar maple canopies on its way out to the former homestead and guest cabins of the Toft family. Hikers enjoy taking the walk out to the cobblestone shoreline in a forest that feels remote and similar to those found in Canada. 

Hiking Door Bluff Headlands in Door County



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Deathdoor Bluff at Door Bluff County Park in Door County WI
Deathdoor Bluff at Door Bluff County Park in Door County WI

Door Bluff Headlands is a county park perched on a bluff overlooking Green Bay at the end of the Port Des Morts Passage between Gills Rock and Washington Island. You'll find several unmarked trails crisscrossing this county park. I recommend what I am dubbing the blue trail - a 2.5 mile moderate loop.

Hiking Ellison Bluff State Natural Area in Door County



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Ellison Bluff State Natural Area in Door County WI
Ellison Bluff State Natural Area in Door County WI

Ellison Bluff County Park and State Natural Area is a popular diversion on the northern tip of Door County at Ellison Bay WI. It features an unforgettable viewing platform that cantilevers off the bluff and is an ideal sunset watching spot. There is also a 1 mile loop trail that is wide and paved with crushed stone. 

Hiking the Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park



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Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County
Beach Access #2 Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County

The Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park is a 3 mile loop which leads to three beach access points, to the top of Old Baldy Lookout, and through the Whitefish Dunes State Natural Area. The eastern portion of the trail is the main route for accessing the beach and is open to bicycles as wells as walkers and joggers. The complete loop is a rock star among hikes in the state of Wisconsin, offering a scenic and unforgettable one hour hike. 

Hiking the Ice Age Trail Pike Lake Segment



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Ice Age Trail Pike Lake Segment in Hartford WI
Ice Age Trail Pike Lake Segment in Hartford WI

The Pike Lake trail is a is a 2.3 mile segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It crosses through the extents of the Pike Lake Unit of the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest. This "unit" (formerly called a state park) is a recreational area with camping, a beach, fishing piers, picnic areas, and lawns for picnic games. The Pike Lake Unit features a few hiking trails in addition to the IAT and a popular trail up Powder Hill to an observation tower.