Here are the best hiking trails near the UW Oshkosh Campus this fall



Segment of the Wiouwash State Trail in Oshkosh near the Fox River on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Cory Sparks, Assistant Sports Editor

It’s officially Fall, and while the UW Oshkosh campus won’t have football, women’s soccer, women’s tennis or many other sports for students to gather for outdoors, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a hermit crab as the most frigid times of the year approaches.

Hiking and biking trails are rather prevalent throughout the state of Wisconsin, and there happens to be a decent variety of routes in and around the Winnebago County area.

The Mascoutin Valley State Trail gives someone who wants to go out and be active a little taste of everything in terms of how it can be navigated and what may be seen on an adventure.

This trail can be accessed from the east side coming from Oshkosh when driving Highway 41 south toward Fond du Lac, or it can be accessed from the west side if one takes State Highway 44 into Ripon.

The 21-mile route that travels from Berlin to Ripon and from Fond du Lac to Rosendale has a path consisting of limestone, grass and gravel. This trail is classified as one that is more suitable for off-road bikes with thicker tires that can gain more traction in gritty areas.

This trail is open to be used in a variety of ways. One can travel on foot, bike or even horseback. The part of the trail going through Green Lake County is the only part that does not permit horseback riding.

When the harsh winter inevitably crashes into the state of Wisconsin, the trail can still be used for snowmobiling. Cross country skiing is also possible, but according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the trail is not routinely groomed for skiing.

The Wiouwash State Trail provides a little more consistency in terms of the substance of the terrain, but it is rather lengthy in its entirety.

This 41-mile route can be accessed by taking County Highway M to Lake View Avenue until one is just south of Hortonville.

The trail is entirely composed of limestone, and it is also deemed suitable for traveling on foot, bike or on horse. Pets are also allowed on this trail, but they are required to be on a leash stretching to no longer than eight feet at all times. Pets must also be picked up after.

The route is divided into a northern and southern portion, and the hope is that soon the trail will be constructed as a long, continuous one. Once this unifying construction is completed, the trail could run from Aniwa in Shawano County all the way to downtown Oshkosh.

The Eisenbahn State Trail is a happy medium between Mascoutin Valley and Wiouwash in terms of length, and it consists of a couple of different substances.

The 25-mile trail is off of State Highway 45, and it travels through Eden.

On this route, 20 miles are made of crushed stone, and the other five miles of the trail are made up of asphalt.

This trail is open for travel on foot, bike and in-line skating in the fall. Once winter arrives, snowmobiling is permitted from Lighthouse Lane to the Washington/Fond du Lac County line, and from the Fond du Lac County line to Eden. Snowmobiling is not allowed in the portion of the trail that travels through West Bend.

Winter ATV use is allowed on this trail between Dec. 15 and March 15, but the ground must be frozen, and the temperature must be at or less than 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Mascoutin Valley, Wiouwash and Eisenbahn State Trails all reside under the policies of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, or WDNR, so any vehicles parking on those properties must have an annual vehicle admission sticker. An annual fee for a sticker is $28 for those who have Wisconsin license plates, and they have a reduced annual fee (now through Dec. 31) of $15.50. For non-Wisconsin plates, the regular annual fee is $38 with a reduced annual rate of $20.50.

The WDNR also states that all three of these trails are open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. year-round, but hunting is not allowed at any time of the year.

With snowmobiling, the WDNR makes it clear that when inclement weather strikes, different parts of each trail will be closed on a county-by-county basis.

In terms of proximity from the campus, using Reeve Memorial Union as a reference point, Mascoutin Valley is located 18.6 miles away, Wiouwash is 10.6 miles away and Eisenbahn is 44.5 miles away.

With the correct preparation through the attention to trail rules, trail navigation with a few friends can present a variety of opportunities to pass the time. While students await the return of spectator-filled sports and a full-capacity-operating gym on campus, the alternative to go exploring on a nearby trail is a year-round way to stay active.