Wisconsin Hiking Trails

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Wisconsin offers a wide variety of hiking trails for daypackers, slackpackers, section hikers, and thru-hikers. Most trails are short and easy and can be found in State Parks or at nature preserves.

Wisconsin is also home to two national scenic trails: The North Country Trail and The Ice Age Trail. The North Country Trial cuts across the far northern region from Upper Michigan to Minnesota. The Ice Age Trail meanders along the terminal moraine through all regions of the state. A hiking trial is never far from wherever you may be in Wisconsin.

Below is a directory to articles and trail maps of hiking trails I have profiled on wisconsin-explorer.blogspot.com

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" John Muir - Wisconsin Native


Central Wisconsin Hiking Trails

Devil's Lake East Bluff


Mileage: 4.5 Mile Loop
Communities: Baraboo
Difficulty: Difficult

Devils Lake East Bluff


The route covered in this article includes two mountaineering rated climbs, a level 4 and level 5. This route will take you on a loop comprised of three fantastic trails in the scenic anomaly that is Devil's Lake State Park. The extraordinary geology, landscape, and panoramic views draw in a steady stream of hikers year round.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Devil's Lake West Bluff


Mileage: 3.5 Mile Loop
Communities: Baraboo
Difficulty: Difficult

devils lake west bluff

The West Bluff trail is similar to the East Bluff trails, a bit easier, but no less spectacular. The return trip of the loop route described here is much easier, flat, paved, and follows along the shoreline. This route combines the West Bluff trail with the Tumbled Rocks trail is a complete loop.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail - Merrimac Segment


Mileage: 3.6 Miles Linear
Communities: Merrimac
Difficulty: Easy




The green Baraboo Hills are always within view from the gentle footpath of the Merrimac Segment of the Ice Age Trail. This soft trail through young forests and green valleys is an easy and popular pick for families and walkers of all ages.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail -Eau Claire Dells Segment


Mileage: 3.0 Miles Linear / 6 Mile out-n-back
Communities: Antigo
Difficulty: Easy

eau claire dells

The Dells of Eau Claire is neither in Wisconsin Dells nor near Eau Claire. It is a Marathon county park alongside the picturesque Eau Claire River. A three mile segment of the Ice Age Trail travels through the park - and along the river through some private lands adjacent to the park.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail Plover River Segment


Mileage: 5.52
Communities: Elmhurst
Difficulty: Easy


Ice Age Trail Plover River Segment


This segment is most often featured in photography of its winding boardwalk through cedar swamps. The Plover River Segment delivers a variety terrain from prairies to hardwood forested hilltops to cedar bogs and rock hops over the babbling Plover River.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Lone Rock Trail at Quincy Bluff State Natural Area


Mileage: 9.0 Mile Lollipop
Communities: Friendship
Difficulty: Moderate

lone rock at quincy bluff


Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area is a very large and uninterrupted wilderness area in central Wisconsin. The preserve features several access roads for hiking. If you are in search of a wilder, more rustic, and lengthy hike then the Lone Rock trail is for you. This trail takes you to Lone Rock - a granite and sandstone rock feature that pushes 70 feet up out of wetlands.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area


Mileage: 2 Mile Loop
Communities: Wisconsin Dells
Difficulty: Easy



The Dells of The Wisconsin Natural Area is a nature preserve along the banks of the Upper Dells at the mouth of The Narrows. A hiking trail blazes through hardwood and Norway pine forest for two miles. This easy two track walking trail eventually leads to a "secluded" natural beach at the point where the Wisconsin River exists The Narrows.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Natural Bridge State Park


Mileage: 1.5 Mile loop
Communities: North Freedom
Difficulty: Easy

Natural Bridge State Park


A monumental stone arch and paleoindian archaeological site are the centerpiece of this easy walk through the woods in the Lower Wisconsin River Valley.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

South Central Wisconsin Hiking Trails

Ice Age Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment


Mileage: 4.6 Miles Linear / 8 mile out-and-back
(Optional .5 mile out-n-back to Gibraltar Rock)
Communities: Merrimac, Lodi
Difficulty: Moderate

gibraltar rock


The Gibraltar Rock Segment is a 4.6 mile length stretching from the Merrimac ferry to the summit of Rocks of Gibraltar State Natural Area. Overall, the Gibraltar Segment is moderately strenuous, with four level 5 mountaineering rated climbs. An out-and-back on this segment will take approximately 4 hours.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail - Table Bluff Segment


Mileage: 5.0 Mile Out-N-Back
Communities:Cross Plains
Difficulty: Easy

table bluff


The Table Bluff Segment is short but very sweet. It is 2.5 miles linear and makes a five mile out-n-back. You can take a couple of white blazed trails on the return to make your hike somewhat loop-like.  The Table Bluff section is well defined and offers amenities such as parking lots, a picnic shelter, and a port-a-john, but no disperse camp sites.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area


Mileage: 1 Mile out-n-back
Communities: Merrimac
Difficulty: Easy -Difficult

Parfreys Glen


Parfrey's Glen is a hidden gem in South Central Wisconsin. The Baraboo Hills boast a few of these. A cavernous stone gorge has been cut by Parfrey's Glean Stream. It's only about a 1 mile out-and-back hike. But, the unique characteristics of the glen are exciting enough to make this short walk a destination. If you are up for a longer hike, the Ice Age National Trail crosses through the property.


ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail - Indian Lake Segment


Mileage: 3 Mile Linear / 5.5 Mile Loop
Communities: Dane
Difficulty: Moderate

indian lake

The Indian Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is an isolated section that tracks a wide footpath through Indian Lake County Park in Dane. Indian Lake is a quiet glossy lake at the bottom of a valley between two picturesque hills of driftless area on Highway 19 between Waunakee and Mazomanie. The section is an easy 2.8 miles, and for section hikers there is the opportunity to make it a loop.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Cherokee Marsh


Mileage: 2 mile loop
Communities: Madison
Difficulty: Easy

Cherokee Marsh in Madison WI
Cherokee Marsh

Madison is lucky to have reserved several large open areas within its borders. The UW Arboretum is the first choice for trail runners and walkers, but the lesser known Cherokee Marsh is another excellent wilderness area in the heart of a growing city.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail - Devil's Staircase Segment


Mileage: 1.8 miles linear
Communities: Janesville
Difficulty: Moderate

devils staircase banner


The Devil's Staircase trail is a historic walking path built after the first World War in Janesville WI. In the 1980's it was revived and added as a segment to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This rugged single track footpath traces the base of a stark sand and limestone escarpment on an elevated ledge above the Rock River - a stepped geological feature warranting the nick-name Devil's Staircase.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Eastern Wisconsin Hiking Trails

Eagle Trail at Peninsula State Park


Mileage: 2.5 mile loop
Communities: Fish Creek
Difficulty: Moderate


The Eagle plunges 200ft from it's trailhead at Eagle Bluff and then traces a rocky great lake shoreline that is in the shadow of the imposing Niagara Escarpment. Along the way you'll have a chance to explore caves, skip stones on Green Bay, meander beneath white cedar forests, and climb a massive lookout tower. This 2.5 mile hike is moderately strenuous due to it's uneven surface which is woven with tree roots and loose rock.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Newport State Wilderness Park


Mileage: 30 Miles Combined
Communities: Ellison Bay
Difficulty: Easy



Featuring 11 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, 30 miles of foot trails, and 14 rustic backpacker's campsites, Newport State Park is hiker heaven. Newport State Park is Wisconsin's only designated wilderness park.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Whitefish Dunes State Park and Cave Point County Park


Mileage: 15 Miles Combined
Communities: Jacksonport
Difficulty: Easy



Cave Point is a spectacle of nature, as are the whitefish dunes. Whitefish Dunes State Park offers 15 miles of hiking footpaths along sandy and turbulent Lake Michigan in Door County. Trails are open year round and this is a particularly good spot for winter hiking.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

South Eastern Wisconsin Hiking Trails

Lion's Den Gorge Natural Area

Mileage: 3 Miles Various Trials
Communities: Grafton
Difficulty: Easy

lions den


Lion's Den Gorge is an Ozaukee County Natural Area on the shore of Lake Michigan in Grafton. There are 3 miles of hiking trails, boardwalks through wetlands, a giant staircase that descends through layers of cedar forest, a salmon spawning stream, a few miles of beach front, a pond, and the deep and verdant ravine called Lion's Den. Only a 20 minute drive north of Milwaukee, Lion's Den is the perfect wilderness retreat in the metro area.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE 

Ice Age Trail - Whitewater Segment


Mileage: 5 Miles Linear / 10 Mile Out-n-Back
Communities: Whitewater
Difficulty: Moderate

iat whitewater

Whitewater and Rice Lakes are at the southernmost end of the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit. This is where the Ice Age National Trail (IAT) picks up again after the Janesville area trails and begins its longest continuous sections. The state forests provide for 5 miles of uninterrupted footpath in the Whitewater Segment. This section is moderately strenuous. There are campsites near the southern trail head.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE 

Ice Age Trail - Blackhawk Segment


Mileage: 8 Miles Linear / 14 Mile Out-n-Back
Communities: La Grange
Difficulty: Moderate

blackhawk segment


This section of the Ice Age National Trail travels around Lake La Grange and continues on through hardwood forest. There is a backpacker's shelter for thru hikers and long distance hikers about midway through the Blackhawk section. This is one of many seccessive segments of the IAT which join together in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Ice Age Trail - Blue Spring Lake Segment


Mileage: 6.5 Miles Linear / 13 Mile Out-n-Back
Communities: Palmyra
Difficulty: Moderate

ice age trail blue spring lake segment


The Blue Spring Lake Segment is a hilly and densely forested section of of the Ice Age National Trail. The section begins at Oak Opening hardwood forest and and continues on through the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest. You'll pass by many bike riding and horseback bridle trails including the difficult and popular Emma Carlin Trails.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Lake Geneva Lake Shore Path


Mileage: 21 mile loop
Communities: Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, Fontana
Difficulty: Very Easy

Lake Geneva Lake Shore Path

The Lake Geneva Lake Shore Path is 21 miles of clever, unique, and unforgettable hiking. It is a 2 foot wide single track footpath encircling Geneva Lake that meanders through the yards of historic and modern estates. It is a hiking trail - a world class hiking trail - yet a hiking trail of such unique character that it becomes instantly memorable.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Seven Bridges Trail - Grant Park


Mileage: 1 mile double loop
Communities: South Milwaukee
Difficulty: Easy

Lake Geneva Lake Shore Path

The historic seven bridges trail is the centerpiece of a proud Milwaukee County Park. It was constructed to its current splendor by a WPA crew in the Great Depression. Here you will find serenity, meandering trails through a wooded ravine, and seven bridges which cross a babbling brook that spills out into Lake Michigan at a pristine natural beach.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Western Wisconsin Hiking Trails (Driftless Area)

Brady Bluff and Perrot Ridge Trails at Perrot State Park


Mileage: 3.5 Mile Loop
Communities: Trempealeau
Difficulty: Moderate

Brady Bluff Perrot State Park Hiking


Hiking trails in Perrot State Park take you to soaring heights above the Mississippi River. The recommended trail route here traverses a level 5 mountaineering climb to Perrot Ridge and then a level 5 climb to Brady Bluff. Even on a gray and cloudy day the views are breathtaking.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Sentinel Ridge at Wyalusing State Park


Mileage: 5 Mile Out and Back
Communities:Prairie Du Chien
Difficulty: Difficult

wyalusing


The length of the Sentinel Ridge trail is a level 4 rated climb extending 2.54 miles from 701ft to 1129ft. It begins on the banks of The Mississippi River and climbs to soaring bluffs that overlook the confluence of The Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Along the way you will pass effigy mounds and caves to explore.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Hiking Trails at Nelson Dewey State Park


Mileage: 2.3 Mile double loop
Communities: Cassville
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Nelson Dewey State Park


Commanding views of the Mississippi from the bluffs above Cassville are a dramatic backdrop to the woodlands and prairie walks at Nelson Dewey State Park. These easy single track trails thread between picnic areas, campgrounds, and overlooks.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Hemlock Trail at Mt. Pisgah State Natural Area


Mileage: 3 Mile lollipop
Communities: Ontario
Difficulty:  Difficult

hemlock at wildcat

The Hemlock Trail is one of the premiere hiking experiences in the driftless area. It is a challenging loop trail which includes a level 5 mountaineering rated climb. Its scenery is delightful, and its panoramic overlook breathtaking (if you have breath left after the climb). Though many in Wisconsin do not know of this trail, now that you have read this - you can count yourself among the few who can find this secluded scenic wonder.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Old Settlers trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park


Mileage: 2.4 Mile loop
Communities: Ontario
Difficulty:  Moderate

View at Wildcat mountain state park


This popular loop trail begins at the highest point in the scenic Wildcat Mountain State Park. It descends rapidly and rises and falls rapidly along a succession of heart pounding climbs. It's 2.4 miles may seem like twice that due to the intense workout required to walk them.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Billings Creek Trail at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve


Mileage: 2.3 Miles Linear (5 mile out-n-back)
Communities: La Farge
Difficulty: Moderate

billings creek


The Billings Creek Trail is a moderately difficult 4.5 mile out-n-back hiking trail that includes a creek crossing, several small hills, deep pine and hardwood forests, and prairie land.The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a central feature of the Wisconsin Driftless area; a land preserve enveloping the scenic grandeur of a Kickapoo River which cuts through sculpted cliffs and deep valleys from Ontario (WI) to La Farge.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Flint Rock Trail at Blue Mound State Park


Mileage: 2 Mile Loop
Communities: Blue Mounds
Difficulty: Easy

view from east tower in Blue Mounds Park


Blue Mound is the highest point in Southwest Wisconsin. The flint rock trail begins at the top of this mound in between two observation towers and traverses a short and easy two mile loop.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

Northwestern Wisconsin Hiking Trails

Black River Falls State Forest - Castle Mound Nature Trail


Mileage: 2 mile loop
Communities: Black River Falls
Difficulty: Easy



The nature trail at Castle Mound is a two mile hiking only trail which climbs to a lookout perch on top of Castle Mound. The remainder of the trail encircles the base of the mound leading through two distinctive ecosystems.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Ice Age Trail - St. Croix Falls Segment (Western Terminus of the IAT)


Mileage: 7.8 miles Linear
Communities: St. Croix Falls
Difficulty: Moderate


Ice Age Trail St. Croix Falls Segment


This trail begins in Interstate State Park at the Potholes Trail and also covers the Horizon Rock Trail and Skyline Trail at Interstate before turning into the city of St. Croix Falls where it climbs hills and meanders between nature preserves. The trail finishes out along the St. Croix River in the National St. Croix Scenic Riverway. The scenic beauty is breathtaking on this trail which is the westernmost segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Willow River Falls - Burkhardt Trail


Mileage: 2 mile loop
Communities: Hudson
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate


Willow River Falls at Willow River State Park


Close to Minneapolis, the grand multi-tiered waterfall on the Willow River draws site seers year round. The best hiking trail to the falls is the Burkhardt Trail which passes by overlooks above the Willow River Valley and then descends an treehouse-like winding staircase to the waterfall.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Cascade Falls - Osceola Hiking Trails


Mileage: 1.25 miles combined
Communities: Osceola
Difficulty:Moderate-Difficult


Cascade Falls in Osceola WI


Hidden in Osceola, nearly in plain sight, is a small network of exciting trails that lead to Cascade Falls, the shores of the St. Croix River, and on a difficult mountaineering rated climb to the Eagle Bluff with soaring views of the National Scenic Riverway.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Ice Age Trail - Straight Lake Segment


Mileage: 3.65 miles linear
Communities: Luck
Difficulty: Moderate

Ice Age Trail Straight Lake Segment



Wisconsin's newest State Park hosts a segment of the IAT. The trail passes along Straight Lake and on hilltops above Rainbow Lake and the Straight River. Rustic campsites are available trailside with direct access to this wilderness lake.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Northern Wisconsin Hiking Trails

North Country Trail - Copper Falls (Doughboy's Trail)


Mileage: 13.5 miles linear
Communities: Mellen
Difficulty: Moderate

Brownstone Falls

Most visitors to Copper Falls State Park will hike a small portion of the NCT that parallels The Doughboy's Trail. This scenic park trail loops around the confluence of Tyler Forks and The Bad River. Two of the Midwest's most magnificent waterfalls are viewed from this trail: Brownstone Falls and Copper Falls. Another loop is formed connecting the CCC trail which leads to an observation tower at the highest point of the trail.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAPS HERE

St Peter's Dome and Morgan Falls State Natural Area


Mileage: 2.1 miles linear (4.2 miles out-and-back)
Communities: Marengo
Difficulty: Moderate


st peters dome


An easy half mile trail on boardwalks and gravel leads to the 70 foot high Moran Falls. The path diverges and ascends a level 5 mountaineering rated climb along a rugged single track footpath for an additional 1.5 miles to the top of 'Old Baldy', or St. Peter's Dome. The bald rock outcropping at the summit of this trail is the highest point in the Chequamegon National Forest and affords views of Ashland and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the distance.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Houghton Falls and Echo Dells State Natural Area


Mileage: .75 miles linear (1.5 miles out-and-back)
Communities: Washburn
Difficulty: Easy



The easy single track footpath brings Bayfield Area visitors deep into a hemlock and cedar forest. Along the way hikers pass through Echo Dells - a sculpted sandstone canyon. And, in spring and early summer Houghton Falls is flowing through the canyon. The short and easy linear path leads down to the Lake Superior shore to a rocky promontory.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore - Lake Shore Path


Mileage: 5 miles linear (10 miles out-and-back)
Communities: Cornucopia
Difficulty: Moderate


Lake shore foot path at the apostle islands national lakeshore


The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes a narrow mainland property on the north shore of the Bayfield Peninsula. This property is accessed at Meyers Beach - a popular staging point for sea kayakers. It is also the trailhead for the Lake Shore Trail which traces the crest of high and rocky Lake Superior Bluffs. Most hikers on this trail take it far enough to get a view of the world famous sea caves. If you take the trail to its linear end you will hike along a beautiful sand beach and find a remote hiker's campsite.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Frog Bay National Park


Mileage: 1.6 mile loop
Communities: Red Cliff
Difficulty: Moderate


Lake Superior View from Frog Bay Tribal National Park


Frog Bay is a 90 acre transitional boreal forest that hugs the shore of Lake Superior at the tip of the Bayfield Peninsula. The Red Cliff band and Lake Superior Chippewa invite you and your family to hike a 1.6 mile loop beneath the canopy of hemlocks and cedar - and to enjoy glistening views of Great Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Ice Age Trail - Grandfather Falls Segment


Mileage: 3.9 Miles Linear
Communities: Merrill
Difficulty: Moderate



Along the banks of the largest waterfall on the Wisconsin River the Ice Age Trail Grandfather Falls Segment gathers together distinctly Wisconsin scenery. Boulder strewn and shaded by dense pine forest this trail is a delight for athletic hiking enthusiasts. The mysterious penstocks spraying sculptural fountains over a 1/4 mile of the trail will provoke inquisitive minds to consider the wonders of human ingenuity.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE

Ice Age Trail - Turtle Rock Segment


Mileage: 5 Miles Linear
Communities: Merrill
Difficulty: Difficult





On the banks opposite the Grandfather Falls Segment is a trail that will baffle even seasoned hikers. Ciphers of boulders and thickets so dense that the trail becomes nearly invisible stir the sense of adventure. Just keep an eye on the yellow blazes to and you'll be lead on a journey through true up north wilderness.

ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE


NATIONAL TRAILS IN WISCONSIN


North Country National Scenic Trail



Mileage: approx. 120 miles
Route: Michigan border near Hurley to Minnesota border near Duluth
Difficulty: Moderate

The Wisconsin Segments of the NCT bring hikers to stunning waterfalls, alongside dozens of lakes, over countless streams and rivers, on mile long boardwalks through bogs, and deep into remote northern forests. Black bear, elk, eagles, wolves, and cougars call this trail home. Backpackers in Chequamegon and Brule River sections of the NCT can immerse themselves completely in wilderness - hiking for up to 3 days without crossing a paved road. But, section hikers can also string together out-n-back day hikes and a few loop routes connected to the mainline.

ARTICLE AND DETAILED TRAIL MAP HERE


Ice Age National Scenic Trail



Mileage: approx. 1000 miles
Route: Interstate State Park near Minneapolis to Potawatomi State Park near Sturgeon Bay
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

The Ice Age National Trail traces the geological terrain shaped by glaciation in the last ice age. The trail rolls along gentle slopes of drumlins, kames, and eskers. The planned route of over 1000 miles touches every region of Wisconsin and brings hiking opportunities to the backyards of major population centers. It is easy to find day hikes and section hikes. And, there are some sections of footpath extensive enough for weekend backpacking. Each year more miles of footpath are added to this emerging national trail.

ARTICLE AND DETAILED TRAIL MAP HERE


Wisconsin Hiking Trails Map





3 comments:

  1. Thanks, this is the article that is interesting for the post . Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a great reference! Thank you very much!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is great! Just the resource I have been looking for. It would be great if you could organize by region or have sub sections by region.. just a thought. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete