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The 20 Best Hiking Trails in Wisconsin

Trails in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has many trail choices from beginner to extreme. In fact, there are over twelve hundred different trails that range from half a mile to almost a hundred miles. Additionally, each trail offers a variety of scenery that changes during each of the four seasons and some Wisconsin state history. With so many choices, it's hard to narrow down the best in the state. These are the 20 Best Hiking Trails In Wisconsin

20. Lost Creek Falls

This trail is located near Cornucopia. One of the standouts on this trail is that you can walk behind the waterfall, which has an eight-foot drop. This is a rarity for waterfalls around Lake Superior. Additionally, there is a small three-foot waterfall near this one. The trail is approximately two and a half miles long and is rated moderate. It's best hiked from May to October. You can also bring your dogs with you.

19. Big Manitou Falls and Manitou Falls Trail

According to All Trails, this trail is about four miles long and winds around Superior, Wisconsin. It has a lake and is great for all levels of hikers. You can use this trail all year and are more than welcome to bring your dogs as long as they are on a leash. Once you're on the course, you will ascend 318 feet, and it should take approximately two hours to complete.

18. Maribel Caves Trail

Maribel Caves is a three-mile trail most often used by mountain bikers. Usually, it takes twenty-four minutes to complete on a bike. There is a river that parallels the trail where you can fish. The elevation on this trail is 173 feet. Maribel Caves is located in the West Twin River. Even though these are called caves, they are just indentations that were caused by the black dolomite.

17. Pheasant Branch and Frederick's Hill

According to Wisconsin Bike Trails, This trail is located near Middleton, Wisconsin, in the township of Springfield. Frederick's Hills is one of the most popular trails in the park. Although, bicycles are not allowed on the trail. If you hike this trail, you'll see Native American burial mounds. Additionally, Fredrick Springs is at the end of the trail. This is also a great place to go if you enjoy seeing nature in all its majesty and learn a little history. Each marker on the trail tells a little about the surrounding area.

16. Willow Falls Trail to Burkhardt Trail

According to Hiking Project, this is a 3.3 lariat route with the main feature being Willow Falls. It's about a forty-minute drive from the Twin Cities. If you don't have a Wisconsin state park pass, you'll need to stop by the park office to get one before proceeding. One of the great things about this trail is it's well marked. You'll also see a lot of wildlife, including butterflies and sometimes a deer or rabbit.

15. Cave Point Lakeside Trail

This trail is known for the Dolomite and Limestone Ledges as well as underwater caves. You will also see Lake Michigan in all its glory on this half a mile-long trail that goes through a forest of birch maple and beech trees. Additionally, it links to Whitefish Dunes State Park. If you decide to go scuba diving, the Ocean Wave shipwreck is a little ways off the shore of Lake Michigan.

14. Rib Mountain Turkey Vulture Trail

Even though many people choose to drive to the top of the summit and hike from there. This trail is one of two that ascend the mountains. Turkey Vulture trail is located on the west side of Rib Mountain and goes in circles around the mountain through hardwood forests which is the most scenic way to go up the mountain. As you hike up the mountain, you'll see many turkey vultures, which is where the trail got its name. One of the best times to hike this trail is in autumn since the forest's leaves change, and you'll get to experience the beautiful colors of fall.

13. North County Scenic and Doughboy's Loop

This trail is located near Mellen in Ashland County and is about a mile and a half and winds through Copper Falls State Park. Additionally, it goes through Tyler Fork and the Bad River. You'll be able to see Brownstone Falls and Copper Falls as you hike this scenic trail.

12. Glacial Pothole and Ice Age Trail

This trail is nearly two miles long and goes through Dresser, Wisconsin. It's created as moderate and is used by hikers and trail runners, and rock climbers. The best time to visit the trail is from April to October. Many people who've hiked the trail recommend walking sticks since Glacial Pothole lives up to its name and can be a little bit tricky to navigate. You're more than welcome to bring your dog with you, but they must be kept on a leash.

11. Mallard Lake Trail

There are four miles of trails to explore in Mallard Lake, located on the Valparaiso Moraine, a ridgeline caused by Wiscon's Glaciers melting into Lake Michigan ten thousand years ago. One of them is a 2.5-mile boardwalk which is great for people in wheelchairs and those who want to bird watch. It winds through the lake and connects to Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve. This is a great trail choice if you're going to have a picnic or go fishing. If you prefer boating to hike, Mallard Lake allows nongasoline-powered watercraft with a permit.

10. Grass and Forest Lake Loop Trail

This hiking trail is located in Waukesha County. On this trail, you'll see much of the glacial history of Wisconsin. Additionally, there is a cedar glade and a floating leaf marsh. Since there are so many different types of terrain in Nashtoah park, including woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands, you're likely to see many kinds of songbirds as well as deer and waterfowl. The park is great to visit in all seasons since the scenery changes so much.

9. Eagle Trail

According to Door County Pulse, "the bluffs of the Niagra Escarpment are one of Door County's defining features." For those who want to see its awe-inspiring beauty, head to the Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park. It's not a trail for beginners since there are many roots and losses down two hundred feet. As you descend down the path, you'll go through cedar forests and most likely hear black-throated warblers as well as woodpeckers. One of the most exciting things about this trail is that you'll see the Escarpment on one side and the lake on the other. Two things to remember before you hike down, don't wear flip flops, and walking sticks are a great idea.

8. Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail

Although many people choose to kayak at Apostle Caves instead of hiking, this trail provides a great way to see the caves. The trail starts at Meyers Beach near Cornucopia, Wisconsin. According to Outdoor Project, the first seventh of a mile is on a boardwalk. Afterwards the trail starts to ascend. Nonetheless, it's a reasonably easy hike because there is only a three hundred-foot rise. At two miles, you'll see the caves, and after another third of a mile, you'll come to "The Bowl," which will be the best views of the hike.

7. Lion's Den Trail

This trail is excellent if you have younger children. Not only is it an easy hike, but you're also likely to see some wildlife. Midway through the trail, there is a bench to relax and look at Animas Valley. You can either take a few minutes to rest and proceed or use this to turn around, so you don't overextend the children or yourself. If you go to the top of Lion's Den, a brick-covered area overlooks Durango and the LaPlata Mountains. There is also a playground and places for picnics.

6. Devil's Lake via East Bluff

If you want to see the rock formations this park is known for, the East Bluff Trail is the best one to choose. Although some people may find it more challenging, it's rated as a moderate trail since much of the course goes through uneven stone steps. However, there are several spots where you can turn back, so your hike can be anywhere from an hour and a half to three and a half. Even if you only do the shorter walk, you will see Elephant Cave. You'll see various rock outcropping before it intersects with Balanced Rock on the south end if you keep going. East Bluff also connects with Devil's Doorway trail.

5. Ice Age Trail To Lapham Peak

If you're looking for a place to ski in winter, this would be a good choice since it's the only park in Wisconsin with an artificial snow machine. The trail has almost thirty miles of cross country skiing trails and is the most visited cross country ski trail in southern Wisconsin. It's also an incredibly scenic trail that goes through a series o rolling hills and forests as well as scenic meadows.

4. Balanced Rock Trail

This trail is best suited for experienced hikers since it is one of the most challenging in Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo. Balanced Rock Trail gets its name from a rock near the top, which seems to balance precariously on the trail, starting at an old railroad track that runs parallel to the lake. As you progress, there are only several wooden posts every hundred or so feet to guide you. Be cautious of the irregular shoulder steps since they are uneven and sometimes slippery. The view at the end makes the challenging trail worth it. Since there is a beautiful view of the lake and connection points to other trails like the East Bluff Trail.

3. Parfrey's Glen Trail

You'll find much of the same geological features as Devil's Lake on this trail. However, it also has some standouts, including towering rock cliffs on each side of the trail. It's a mile hike which is a little more challenging than a beginner trail. As you hike, you curve around a short creek several times. You'll also get a chance to see some green moss-covered sandstone once a prehistoric beach. At the end of this trail is a small waterfall perfect for relaxing before you head back.

2. Levis/Trow Mounds Trail

This trail is part of the most extensive hiking trail system in Clark County. Many people love to visit this trail during autumn to see the changing leaves as they hike. According to Clark County, there are several favorite trails to hike. Northface goes along a deep ravine and through the northwest point of the mound. Cliffhanger, Toad Road, and Upper Hermosa are all ridge top of Trow Mound. If you want something more challenging, check out Goat Dance that is northwest of Trow Mound.

1. Scuppernong Hiking Trail System

This is one of the newer trails in Wisconsin, first opened in 2020. Scuppernong Trail system is located in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest on County Highway ZZ east of Highway 67. There are multiple trails here, so you can choose one based on your skill level. Each one goes through a hardwood forest with lots of pine trees. The Red Loop is 2.3 miles long, best suited for intermediate hikers, and the Orange Loop is another trail for intermediate hikers. 4.1 miles long, it goes much deeper into the forest. If you feel more adventurous, there is the Green Loop, an advanced trail nearly five miles long. You can camp at the Pinewoods Campground, which is halfway through the course. The ending of the trail has many ups and downs, so it will be a workout.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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