Take a Hike!

Revel in Wisconsin’s Nature

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir

When it comes to autumn in Wisconsin, no doubt outdoors is the place to be. Spending time outside is made better by slightly cool temperatures and crisp, fresh air. Hiking, biking and exploring nature are go-tos for the state this month before winter takes hold and other activities take over.

And it turns out, while hiking as an exercise provides an enjoyable escape from reality, that’s not the only reason you should partake.

Spending time in nature has been found to lower stress and decrease anxiety, and even promote creativity and empathy—not to mention the physical benefits of moving like lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, it’s fun!

So, revel in nature, grab the following ten essentials for hiking (according to and hit some of the best trails in the state:


  1. Navigation + Communication: GPS app, Satellite messenger, paper map and compass 
  2. Sun Protection: Broad-brimmed hat, gaiter, sunscreen, UPF clothing
  3. Clothing: Proper footwear, rain gear and insulated clothing
  4. Water: More water than you anticipate needing 
  5. Food: More calories than you anticipate needing 
  6. Headlamp: Fully charged and/or with a spare set of batteries 
  7. First Aid + Repair Kit: Everything you need to fix you and your gear 
  8. Knife (or Multi-Tool): Small utility blade or a multi-tool to assist with gear repair 
  9. Fire: Weatherproof firestarter and dry tinder 
  10.  Emergency Shelter: Space blanket or emergency bivy 

Woodland Dunes Nature Preserve

Where: Two Rivers

Summer: Walking/Hiking

Winter: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, special nights of candle-lit trails, bonfires, live music 

Pass required: No

Open: Year-round

Boasting seven miles of hiking trails that traverse through 1,500 acres of hardwood forests, wetlands, prairies and marshes, Nancy Nabak, Communication & Development Coordinator at Woodland Dunes Nature Center says the area is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts looking for unique animal and plant sightings.

“We’ve got a trail that frequently boasts mink sightings at the right time of year. We’ve got another that leaps with leopard frogs, springing forth in front of you as you walk… sightings from the river may include nesting osprey, bald eagles, great blue herons, belted kingfisher, fox, and deer.

“As spring arrives, migrating birds travel along the shoreline and stop here for a rest or decide this is home and start nesting. One of the best trails to find evidence of this is Willow Trail. Many songbirds including American Redstarts, Blue-winged warblers, Vireos and Blue gray

gnatcatchers can be spotted here. This trail is surrounded by dogwood, alder and willow shrubs

and trees.”

Trails at Woodland Dunes are family friendly and relatively flat, as well as free of charge and open year-round. Dogs and bikes are not allowed.

“And we’ve got trails that nurture a quieter path, allowing for a meditative stroll and deeper breathing. We can’t say we’ve got it all, but we can honestly say our trails have the answer when nature is calling. 

“It’s never the same,” Nabak adds. “Every visit is different. Come and enjoy a trail today and come back to enjoy another one next time. It’ll be worth the drive.”


Eisenbahn State Park Trail

Where: Eden

Summer: Bicycling, Walking/Hiking

Winter: Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing 

Pass required: No

Open: Year-round

A 22-mile recreation trail extending from Eden Community Park south into West Bend, the Eisenbahn State Park Trail was built on the abandoned Fox Valley Railroad right of way and runs through the communities of Campbellsport and Kewaskum. The north 12 miles of the trail is within Fond du Lac County. 

The trail holds interesting history dating back to the 1800s, that is quite literally in the name. German for the word “railroad” (“iron road”), Eisenbahn’s railway line from Fond du lac to West Bend was built in the 1850s as the Milwaukee & Fond du Lac Air Line, a subsidiary of the Milwaukee & Superior Railroad. In 1881, ownership was transferred to the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad, which was then purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in 1883.

Today, the Eisenbahn Trail is a multiple-purpose trail with a crushed limestone surface and provides opportunities for walking, running and bicycling.  During the winter months the trail is used for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. 

It traverses the scenic countryside of eastern Wisconsin, allowing for its beautiful surroundings to take center stage. Visitors experience rolling farmland, low marshes and patches of forest. Glacial landscape features are also seen from the trail: drumlins, moraines and kettle ponds. South of Kewaskum, it crosses the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and passes near the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The trail crosses the Milwaukee River several times along the way too.


Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – Grafton

Where: Grafton

Summer: Walking/Hiking, Bird Watching, Fishing, Off Road Parking Areas, Picnicking

Winter: Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing

Pass required: No

Open: Year-round

An undeveloped stretch of bluff land along Lake Michigan, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve shines along the shoreline from Mequon to Port Washington.

Activities include bird watching, fishing, hiking and picnicking. The preserve is next to a 44-acre wetland complex owned by United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for enhancing populations of migratory birds and other wildlife.

Stroll across bridges over the gorge or down the gorge stairways to walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This 73-acre park offers plenty of hiking trails, boardwalks through the wetlands, picnic areas, scenic views, and restrooms.

The Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is an “ecological jewel” within the Ozaukee County park system. This park is a prototype for the planning and implementation of other “Nature Preserves” within the county park system that respects local ecology. Many people use this park for nature walks, educational tours and photo shoots.

Gravel trails, a parking lot, information kiosk, trail bridges and stairways, bluff vistas, and several elevated boardwalk trails have been added to the park since 2003. Continued improvement to encourage nature education by providing public access to unique land and ecosystems.

Public access includes almost 0.7 miles of 90 to 100 foot high bluffs looking out onto Lake Michigan with a mixture of wetland/upland areas that provide diverse habitats for native wildflowers, shrubs and trees that are useful for all types of wildlife: migratory birds, game birds and waterfowl, amphibians, and mammals. The park has quickly become a favorite scenic, hiking, and picnic spot for many residents and visitors.

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In Nature

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