Best Places to Snowshoe in Wisconsin
Posted by Crescent Moon on Nov 13th 2020
From the prairies and oak savannas of the south to the great “North Woods,” Wisconsin tempts snowshoers with wonderfully varied Upper Midwestern landscapes—and, maybe, needless to say, quite a bit of the white stuff.
It’s hard to narrow down the very best snowshoeing destinations in the Badger State, but the following spots—each one a great place to give those Crescent Moon foam snowshoes a spin in the winter wonderland!
Kettle Moraine State Forest
Some of Wisconsin’s prettiest countryside—and some of the world’s most postcard-perfect glacial landforms—await the snowshoer in the Kettle Moraine State Forest in the state’s southeast. “Kettle” refers to the hollows left behind by melting ice chunks; a “moraine” is a ridge formed along the edges of glacial lobes. Those are only two prominent examples of glacial topography in the forest, including plenty of the meandering ridgelines called eskers and the streamlined hillocks called drumlins—all evidence of bygone Pleistocene ice sheets.
The forest comes divided into two major parcels, each fantastic for winter recreation. In the roughly 30,000-acre Northern Unit, you’ve got prime snowshoeing options like the Butler Lake Loop, the Greenbush trail system, and the Summit Trail. Summit Trail leads you up to the crown of Dundee Mountain, the tallest kame—a conical hill formed by deposition in glacial cavities—on the Kettle Moraine. The Southern Unit’s 22,000-plus acres include the John Muir and Emma Carlin trail systems and nature trails such as Ball Bluff and Scuppernong Springs. Meanwhile, the awesome Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through both units and offers plenty of top-grade snowshoeing mileage.
Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center
Just a stone’s throw from Milwaukee, the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center—a former farm turned natural sanctuary and environmental-education facility—offers a snowshoer some six miles of trails along the wintry shores of Lake Michigan. Wander heavily wooded lakefront ravines, edge frozen ponds, and tramp your way through prairies and copses—all while keeping an eye peeled for white-tailed deer and coyotes.
Peninsula State Park
The nearly 3,800-acre Peninsula State Park is one of the biggest and most popular state parks in Wisconsin, set on the Door Peninsula’s year-round vacationland. Flocked to as it is in the summer, the park’s just as enticing in winter, with its deep snow-bound woods and stirring Great Lakes views from high Niagara Escarpment bluffs. There are three designated snowshoeing routes in the park, including the milelong Minnehaha Trail along the Nicolet Bay shores, a 1.5-mile loop out of the Nature Center, and the 2.5-mile Sentinel Trail loop beginning at Eagle Tower.
Chequamagon Nicolet National Forest
The national forestland of northern Wisconsin provides just about endless snowshoeing opportunities, from tramping short, readily accessible winter trails to cross-country into the wild mixed-hardwood forest and large swamps. Looking for the tracks of a timber wolf, fisher, bobcat, and other elusive carnivores here is part of the fun.
One of the best spots for snowshoeing on the Chequamagon-Nicolet National Forest is the Anvil Lake Recreation Area near the North Woods hamlet of Eagle River. Here the Anvil Lake National Recreation Trail provides multiple trails catering to cross-country skiers and snowshoers—including the challenging Devils Run—looping through hardwoods, hemlocks, and white pines. You can extend your adventures by linking in with the Nicolet North trail system.
Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area
The rolling uplands and extensive lakes of the Chippewa Moraine compose a snowshoer’s paradise, offering both designated trails and cross-country exploration. Part of the Chippewa Moraine National Scientific Reserve, the tract includes a celebrated stretch of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Slip into your Crescent Moon Eva or Luna foam snowshoes for walks on the Mammoth Nature Trail, Dry Lake Trail, and Circle Trail.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
One of the pinnacle natural preserves in Wisconsin—and, really, the Upper Midwest in general—the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore protects a stunning lakefront and some 21 islands at the very northern tip of the Badger State, where it juts out into vast and wild-tempered Lake Superior. When conditions are right, snowshoeing is an awesome way to see one of the state’s true wintertime wonders: the National Lakeshore’s Mainland Ice Caves. These are ice-cloaked, ice-hung sandstone cliffs that resemble some frozen, glazed-over version of a stalagmite- and stalactite-festooned cavern.
This is at least a roughly 2.5-mile round-trip undertaking trekking along the ice of coastal Lake Superior—and perhaps considerably more depending on where you park. Pay heed to the National Lakeshore’s status updates come prepared for a rigorous snowshoe, and practice caution traversing the lake ice throughout your journey.
Hit Up Wisconsin’s Winter Trails in Crescent Moon Foam Snowshoes
Whether you’re hugging an esker in the Kettle Moraine, skirting a frozen swamp in the backcountry, or marveling at ornate ice sculptures at the doorstep of Lake Superior, you can maximize your enjoyment of the Badger State’s winter wonderland in a pair of Crescent Moon’s foam snowshoes. The rocker platform’s natural feel, the ramped-up cushioning and insulation, the sure-and-steady traction courtesy of rubber lugs, and optional ice cleats—our Eva and Luna models have your back (err, your feet) out there in Wisconsin’s awesome winter-scapes!