Spring hiking spots

Lexi Langendorf, Arts & Entertainment Editor

When COVID-19 hit and quarantine began, many of us turned to exercise and the outdoors to help cure the lonely isolation we were abruptly forced into.

Courtesy of Advance Titan

Hiking is one of those good things that came out of the pandemic, and for many of us, it has since become a major part of our daily routines.

Wisconsin just happens to be home to 49 state parks and hundreds of beautiful hiking trails that are perfect for spring hikes, jogs, bike rides and even horseback riding.

Particularly, there are plenty of stunning areas in Oshkosh to explore with friends, family, your significant other or by yourself on Earth Day 2021.

Because what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by appreciating the beauty the Earth offers while on a hike?

Wiouwash State Trail

The Wiouwash State Trail is just about a 20-minute drive from campus and is actually named after the four counties it runs through: Winnebago, Outagamie, Waupaca and Shawano.

The part of the trail running from Oshkosh to Hortonville stretches on for a whopping 21.8 miles.

For about six miles of the trail, hikers will walk upon a gravel road that eventually connects to the trail of an abandoned railroad corridor.

If you need a refreshment break, you can even stop at Bare Bones Brewery or Fox River Brewing Company along the way.

Mascoutin Valley State Trail

The Mascoutin Valley State Trail, about 30 minutes from campus, is an 11-mile journey from Berlin to Ripon that runs through Green Lake, Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties.

Mascoutin Valley is built on a former railroad corridor and offers visitors scenic views of farms, prairies and wetlands.

The trail is also near the Rush Lake Marsh area, which is one of Wisconsin’s most important wetland communities for its migratory and breeding bird populations.

Should you visit the Mascoutin Valley State Trail with a group of friends, you can also stop by Vines & Rushes Winery, a winemaking facility that offers wine tasting in Ripon year-round.

Terrell’s Island Trail

Terrell’s Island Trail in Omro is a 1,200-acre wetland conservation project run by the Butte des Morts Conservation Club with the goal of preserving and restoring the lake’s wetland and watershed habitat.

The 3.71 mile trail, which is a one hour and 15-minute walk, is broken into three different sub-trails you can pick from.

Tribal Heritage Crossing Trail

Another great option is the Tribal Heritage Crossing Trail, which is a flat, paved trail in Oshkosh perfect for biking, walking or running when trails might be wet from a rainy day.

Throughout the trail, there are also educational stops with information about Wisconsin’s 11 Native American tribes and plenty of nearby parking lots and stops.

Oshkosh Riverwalk

Lastly, the Oshkosh Riverwalk is a flat, paved three-mile trail along both sides of the Fox River connecting downtown Oshkosh to the Wiouwash Trail.

There are tons of restaurants, bars and stores along this trail that would be perfect for a fun day out with friends or family.

High Cliff State Park

These trails are all great hiking options, especially with the nearest state park to the UWO campus being approximately 40 minutes from campus.

High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago makes for a nice day trip, but only if you’re willing to hit the road.

If you plan to go, you should purchase an annual admission pass online, over the phone by calling local properties directly or in-person at self-registration stations at individual properties.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced several State Park System operations updates that will apply to High Cliff.

Starting April 30, observation towers and playgrounds will be open, volunteer group sizes will be increased to 50 people and capacity for open-air shelters, amphitheaters and outdoor group campgrounds will be increased to 100 people.
Stand-alone concession facilities will also open to the public at 50% capacity including staff.
Family camping, outdoor group camping, bathroom and dump station facilities, accessible cabins, drive-up window service and concessions continue to be available to state park visitors.

However, indoor group campgrounds and indoor shelters will remain closed through June 1.

Wisconsin State Park and property visitor capacity closures will remain in place to help manage overcrowding and promote social distancing.

The DNR also reminds the public that rain coupled with an increase in use can sometimes be damaging to public spaces and natural resources. While staff try to provide signage and condition updates whenever possible, the DNR asks hikers to stay on the trails and seek dry trail alternatives if they find muddy conditions.

Visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing and to wear a face covering when a distance of six feet or greater cannot be achieved.