Winter in Wisconsin (or anywhere) can be long, but it doesn't have to be dull! Grab your snowshoes, hiking boots, or cross-country skis and hit the trails at one these five area Sherper's favorites for winter exploration. A dose of fresh air and breathtaking views will cure any case of those winter blues!
LAPHAM PEAK: Located a short 25 miles west of Milwaukee in Delafield, Lapham Peak features a number of scenic trails and an observation tower with 360 views of the surrounding region. Put on your snowshoes and explore the Prairie Path or a portion of the Ice Age Trail that carves its way through this portion of the Kettle Moraine Unit. What additionally keeps this location on our winter favorites list are the lighted ski trails, making winter adventures in the dark more magical. Trails vary in length from 1.5 miles to 6.6 miles and offer easy, intermediate, and advanced options for any skill level.
Good to know: The park is open year round from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. A state park vehicle admission sticker is required.
Link to Map: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/lapham/pdfs/laphammap.pdf
LION’S DEN GORGE NATURE PRESERVE: Just a short drive north of Milwaukee in the town of Grafton, Lion’s Den offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan as trails weave in and out of forests atop 90-100 foot bluffs. This 73-acre park is great for bird watching due to the neighboring wetland, which enhances populations of migratory birds and other wildlife. Adventure down the steps to the shores of Lake Michigan, where depending on the weather, ice builds up creating unique ice cliffs along the shoreline. Leashed dogs are welcome, so bring Fido along for some fresh winter air, too!
Good to know: The park is open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM year round. Parking is free.
Link to map: https://www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/DocumentCenter/View/11617/Lions-Den-Gorge-Nature-Preserve-Map
KETTLE MORAINE STATE FOREST - NORTHERN UNIT: An easy hour’s drive north of Milwaukee you will find the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine Forest, home to more than 132 miles of trails which vary in difficulty and length. While there are many great ski and snowshoe trails in this unit, one of our winter favorites is the Parnell Tower Loop trail. Perfect for snowshoers, this 3.5-mile loop also features a 60-foot observation tower, rising above the treetops for a birds-eye view of the surrounding glacial landscape.
Good to know: A state park vehicle admission sticker is required for parking. The forest is open daily from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
Link to map: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kmn/PDFs/kmnparnelltr.pdf
HAVENWOODS STATE FOREST: When you don’t want to drive far, Havenwoods State Forest is a great option for a winter hike. Located on Milwaukee’s north side, this forest offers more than 6 miles of trails, including a 2.7-mile cross-country ski loop. While this is part of the state forest system, a vehicle admission sticker is not required for parking, which is an added bonus to this urban pick.
Good to know: Parking is free. Park is open year round from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Link to map: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/havenwoods/pdfs/havenwoodsmap.pdf
SEVEN BRIDGES TRAIL, GRANT PARK: Right in South Milwaukee's Grant Park, winter explorers can check out this 2-mile trail offering beautiful scenery, lannon stone paths, stone staircases, numerous bridges, aged trees, secluded areas, and views of Lake Michigan. Depending on the weather, ice cleats are a great idea to bring along for added stability on the trail.
Good to know: Grant Park is open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Link to map: https://county.milwaukee.gov/files/county/parks-department/Park-Maps/7bridgesmap.pdf