Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, on the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago in the town of Sherwood, it offers a wide variety of activities for visitors year-round. From camping to hiking and biking to weddings; this guide will tell you everything there is to know about High Cliff State Park!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is a well-known Wisconsin state park. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, High Cliff offers outdoor enthusiasts year-round activities. Camping, hiking, and biking are just some of the things to do at this beautiful destination! This guide will tell you everything there is to know about it!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is the only state-owned recreational area on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake. Let’s start with the history – it is SO amazing!

History of High Cliff State Park

The rocks at High Cliff are primarily sandstone laid down by streams that once ran through this area millions of years ago. These sediments were compressed under great pressure into hard rock deposits which have been worn away from the softer shale beneath them by wind and rain erosion over centuries (more).

It is part of the Niagara Escarpment.

Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment is a long, continuous escarpment that extends from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario in Canada to the Alabama River in Iowa. It was formed when a retreating ice sheet left an unglaciated strip on top that gradually sloped toward the northeast and this trend is marked by high cliffs or bluffs overlooking much lower areas below them (more).

Sioux

Nomadic Siouan Indians were there, some 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

The Sioux were nomadic tribes who hunted bison along what would become High Cliff State Park. They lived off hunting buffalo for food, housing materials, clothes and many other necessities including shoes made out of animal hide with Buffalo hides also being used as blankets during cold winters.

They left 30 effigy mounds behind to tell part of their story, 9 of which remain today. (More on those later)

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

The park’s limestone mine was a testament to the area’s industrial heritage. It was a successful 40-man strong lime mining operation from 1855 to 1956. Quarrying of the stone was done in large pits still visible around the park.

Workers drilled holes into the rock and used dynamite to blast the limestone from the sedimentary layers of rock. For safety reasons, this occurred on a strict schedule, with blasts happening at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. each day. The limestone was then loaded onto a horse and buggy system to hit the on-site kilns. The lime from this operation was sent throughout the Midwest and was used for a variety of things, from plaster and cement to brick mortar, and even to simply reduced acidity in the soil of farmlands.

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

As many as 40 people worked at the operation, including drillers, a blasting specialist, stone crushers, teamsters, barrel makers, laborers, and a blacksmith. Many were recent immigrants from Hungary. In its heyday, the lime industry supported a small “company town” consisting of 16 houses for workers, a store (including a post office, telegraph office, and company office), and a tavern, all owned by the Western Lime and Cement Company. All that remains today are the store and ruins of the kiln.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

Once known as one of the friendliest and most trusted of the Wisconsin Indians, Red Bird (1788–1828) was a leader of the Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) Native American tribe. He was a leader in the Winnebago War against the United States.

We won’t go into details here – but their war was based on the tensions of the time, a misunderstanding that led them to believe that two Ho-Chunk had been put to death at Fort Snelling in 1826 for a murder they did not commit, and then retaliation that continued to escalate.

The Winnebago War was a large-scale conflict between the United States and the Ho-Chunk Nation in what is now Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

It lasted from 1827 to 1833 with sporadic fighting continuing until 1840 when Red Bird finally surrendered.

A few years after his death, a statue was erected to honor him at High Cliff State Park. The original monument made this area of the park an important site in Wisconsin’s Native American history and culture. It is by an overlook on the Red Bird Trail and worth a stop.

This is a GREAT lesson for the kids – while I haven’t found any books on Red Bird specifically, Tecumseh is a great read before you visit – to open some dialogue with your kids.

Is High Cliff State Park Haunted?

There have been many reports of paranormal activity…three main sources.

Native Americans

First of all – there is always “energy” around effigy mounds and there is no exception to the ones at High Cliff State Park, even if there are no human remains detected in them.

The most well documented of all “hauntings” at this park, hands down are the effigy mounds. There are many reports of “warm wind” or “cold wind” in the area – on days with no wind, as well as a special kind of green moss that ONLY grows on the effigy mounds.

The Hungarian Stone Masons

Then there is the old kiln haunting. In an era where quarrying operations were largely unregulated, accidents in lime quarries proved tragic for workers and their families. On December 22nd, 1903 a rock fell from the ceiling of one section and killed seven people at once, including two teamsters hauling limestone up out of the pit on a wagon with 16 barrels while four other men pushed it from behind.

After this tragedy, new regulations required proper supports beneath any area that could cause anyone to come into contact with falling rocks or rubble. The old kiln is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Hungarian stonemasons who labored there.

Lake Winnebago Water Monster

The legend has its roots in the formerly nearby Winnebago Tribe, which had a village on the shores of the lake. The Winnebago monster is described as being a long, serpentine creature with two fins or horns and an armored back. In 1959 the “monster” was filmed by a man named Claude Thompson on his home movie camera while fishing in Lake Winnebago.

The video footage has been studied extensively by skeptics who say that what appears to be two bumps near its head are actually reflections of trees seen through murky water from below. They also point out that this creature could not remain unseen given its large size, which would have become noticeable because fish refuse to swim near it.

In 1962, cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans published an article about it in Fate magazine where he coined the term “plesiosaur“.

One of the skeptics, Ron Schaffner, argued that the creature is merely a floating log or other debris in low visibility water and was not moving at all–as seen by changes in size when Thompson zooms his camera out to get a wider shot.

Supposedly, the water monster washed to shore at one point and an entire deer, antlers and all, was found in its belly. The lake is allegedly still the home of the water monster’s children, equally large fish that just might swallow a person one of these days.

Keep in mind that the Winnebago monster remains unidentified and unverified…and I totally surprised my husband with this one -who grew up in the area and never heard of it!

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High Cliff State Park Effigy Mounds

An effigy mound is an animal shaped structure built entirely or partly from clay with one side deliberately left flat so it can be seen easily on aerial photographs.

Effigy Mounds In General

These were constructed by prehistoric Mississippian Indians for ritual purposes between 900 AD and 1400 AD, but some may date back to about 500 BC. Fewer than 20 sites remain today because farmers plowed up many of them during settlement in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The identity of the animal is not always certain, and may have been different in Mississippian times than during earlier periods. The most common shapes are bears (perhaps symbolizing strength), panthers or other wild cats (possibly representing speed). Birds were also represented including owls, herons, hawks and cranes; these could represent ferocity or power respectively.

Sometimes a human was included on top of an effigy mound – this would usually be someone who wanted to honor their ancestors by being buried high rather than at ground level as usual for that culture’s burial rituals- although sometimes it represents a spirit guardian figure known as ‘the Master of Breath’. Effigies were built mainly between 900 AD to 1550 AD and are found in the Eastern US, but also as far north as Michigan.

The mounds were usually built up over a log or scaffold base which was then filled with dirt to create an elevation of about 15 feet.

The earth circling the mound represented water flowing around it and helped reinforce its symbolic meaning by suggesting that life came from within the earth, like springs bubbling forth (the opposite side of this belief is seen in some Puebloan cultures where effigies represent mountains).

The High Cliff Mounds

The High Cliff State Park effigy mounds were left by nomadic Siouan Indians . The mounds are arranged in a sequence of overlapping circles that get smaller and closer together the higher they go.

The park was established to protect these ancient Native American earthworks, as well as rare prairie plants such as showy goldenrod.

Historians believe that the shape of the mound is indicative of status–animals shapes mean the person had a higher status than those in geometric shapes, and the buffalo shape was the highest of all, generally reserved for family of the chief. While none of the effigy mounds at High Cliff have been found to have human remains or artifacts in them, they are still sacred to the Native Americans whom created them, and should be treated as such.

These dates have been determined by carbon dating charcoal remnants from the fires of the effigy mound builders, so we know the ones at this park are from somewhere between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D.

Out of the original 30 effigy mounds in High Cliff, only nine remain. These can be found on the Indian Mound Trail in the upper section of the park. This trail has signs posted along it describing the animal life, vegetation, speculation on the ways of life of the former inhabitants of the High Cliff area, and the mounds themselves.

The 9 that remain are four panther mounds, two conical mounds, one lineal mound, and, along a smaller path, two buffalo mounds.

–>Please keep in mind that these are sacred spots and should be treated as such.

High Cliff State Park Camping

With two different campgrounds, High Cliff State Park should be able to accommodate you.

The family campground has 112 campsites (32 with electric and two handicap accessible – #26 and #86). A flush toilet/shower building is on-site and there are in the family also several vault toilets throughout the campground. Campground hosts stay on site 58 from April through October.

High Cliff State State Park Family Campground Map

Accessible cabin

An accessible cabin for people with disabilities is available at High Cliff State Park. The cabin can accommodate up to six people and can be rented for a maximum of four nights per year.

High Cliff State State Park group Campground Map

Group Sites

There are eight group sites, that only have vault toilets located near them.

High Cliff State Park Activities

There is so much to see and do at High Cliff year-round! Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, boating and more!

High Cliff State Park Water Sports

Being right on Lake Winnebago, you have a lot of options here!

Big Cliff State Park Fishing

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Lake Winnebago is stocked with a variety of fish each year. You can catch Walleye, Northern Pike, White Bass, Perch and Lake Trout to name a few!

You can also fish at the Butterfly Pond! You will find it full of both largemouth bass and panfish.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

high Cliff State Park Swimming

High Cliff does have a swim area, however, there are no lifeguards on duty. There is a fully functional bathhouse too – complete with flush toilets, showers, changing areas, and open shelters.

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High Cliff State Park Kayaking

With 5 boat launches, 4 developed and one undeveloped, you are pretty much set for any kind of boat at High Cliff. Windsurfers, kite boarders, and paddlers will enjoy the area, but make sure to check out State Park’s website for a list of rules and regulations before you head out on the water.

If you have a larger boat, you can even bring it to the park! There are 100+ slips available to rent, or you can stay overnight aboard your boat while it is moored in the marina. Call the marina at 920-989-1349 (Memorial Day through Labor Day) to check on rental availability.

All slips have power and slip rentals include the use of the marina shower building. The marina is within walking distance to the beach, biking trails, golf course and restaurant.

High Cliff State Park Hiking

With 5 different trails, quite a variety of different skill levels and challenges are covered. They are all a variety of lengths and loop – making their well-marked paths easy to follow.

They are a perfect way to see the fall colors!

High Cliff State Park hiking trail

The hiking trails are as follows:

Butterfly Pond trail (0.4-mile east loop and 0.7-mile west loop)

This trail is paved for accessibility and features wetland, prairie and forest ecosystems.

Forest Management trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.4-mile long loop)

Mostly wooded.

Indian Mound trail (0.6 miles)

This will take your by the park’s effigy mounds.

Lime-Kiln trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.7-mile long loop)

This trail covers part of the Niagara Escarpment State Natural Area, and has some steep climbs, descents and stairs.

Red Bird trail (3.4 miles)

With amazing panoramic views, this pretty level trail will take you past the historical limestone quarries, the Chief Red Bird statue, and the observation tower.

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Nature Center

High Cliff State Park Bike Trails

While you can use your bike on any of the paved roads, you are limited to the Red Bird Trail and Horse trail – which is 7.5 miles long and goes through both grassland and hardwood forest ecosystems. You can NOT bike on the other 4 trails.

There are NO bike rentals at the park (or horses either) so be prepared to pack your own.

Golfing in the Area

While High Cliff state park doesn’t have its own golf course, there are some excellent courses nearby.

High Cliff Golf and Event Center is an 18-Hole golf course near High Cliff State Park. A Driving Range is there and Golf instruction is available by appointment. W5095 Golf Course Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Winagamie Golf Course is another favorite. A nice 27-hole course that keeps the playing groups separated nicely. Plenty of straight par fours and a challenging rough. Nice pro shop! : 3501 Winnegamie Dr, Neenah, WI 54956

High Cliff State Park Hunting

If you are a gun-hunter – this isn’t the park for you. There is a traditional 9-day muzzleloader-only gun deer hunt. There is no other gun hunting in the park. Other than that, archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

Trapping rules are tricky – you have to be at least 100 yards away from the designated use area, including trails. You simply can’t use certain trap types.

High Cliff State Park in Winter

If you want to see some wildlife – this is a great time of the year. Watch for deer and rabbits as they move from their winter grazing areas around High Cliff in search of food.

Snowshoeing at High Cliff State Park

If you want to try your hand, or foot, at snowshoeing – this is the place to do it. Snowshoe rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis when the park office is open… so you can see if you really like the hobby before investing in your own shoes.

Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere in High Cliff except on ski trails when snow-covered. The Forest Management trail is good for winter hiking and snowshoeing. That is the one that is mostly wooded and serene.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Country Skiing at High Cliff State Park

First of all, Fido is not allowed on these trails! Pup pawprints can screw up a groomed ski trail. Certain trails in the park are designated for skiing when snow-covered. The trails are groomed for traditional skiing and are suitable for beginning to intermediate skiers.

Snowmobiling at High Cliff State Park

A 3-mile snowmobile trail through the park connects Lake Winnebago with the Calumet County snowmobile trail system.

They follow the surrounding county guidelines for when the trails are to be open or not – The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report, and local club and county snowmobile web pages and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

High Cliff State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

There are a two special “pet picnic” areas where your pup can enjoy a meal with you. One is in the lower park, near the park office, with a dog swimming area in the pond. It is a little hard to find, but it is there, adjacent to the marina. The other is near the pavilion.

All trails are dog-friendly when on a leash, except for in winter with the ski-prepped trails.

There is also a great dog park near Appleton. Outagamie County Dog Park is an easy drive from the park and will make it convenient for you to exercise your dog so he will be easier to manage on your hikes.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the EastShore Humane Society at (920) 849-2390.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails (Applies to Parfrey’s Glen)
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.
  • The Devil’s Lake South Shore Picnic area, except on paved roads and walkways en route to areas where pets are allowed.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Restaurants Near High Cliff State Park

Here are a few of our favorites:

The Chubby Seagull

OK – part of me just loves the name, LOL. This is the go-to place for pizza or ice cream. Note: Employees don’t wear masks – so strict COVID precautions aren’t followed, if that makes you uncomfortable. N7663 Pigeon Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

The Granary Supper Club

We love supper clubs, to begin with, but with their cozy seating. pleasant decor, and large menu? It is worth a visit. N586 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Peters’ Boyz Texas BBQ

This place is worth the small drive: the brisket is awesome and the ribs are even better. N378 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Grocery Store Near High Cliff State Park

While you are a short drive from Appleton – that has everything from Aldi to a Walmart Super Center, right in Sherwood, you will find a Dick’s Family Foods – W647 Knight Dr, Sherwood, WI 54169

Hotels Near High Cliff State Park

We know it – not everyone wants to sleep IN the park, either on their boat or in a camper/RV/tent.

Quality Inn & Suites

This might be your closest accommodations, if under $60, and has a hot breakfast. 761 Truman St, Kimberly, WI 54136

Appleton Hotels

There are literally dozens there – and prices range from $38 to over $220. It depends on what you are looking for, specifically.

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A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

On the Minnesota edge of Wisconsin’s Western Region, Kinnickinnic State Park is a 1,242-acre park in which the Kinnickinnic River, locally known as Kinni River, joins the St. Croix River. The mouth of the Kinnickinnic River forms a sandy delta upon which boaters can picnic and camp.Kinnickinnic State Park is a large park that offers something for everyone. It has over 1,000 acres of land with trails to enjoy and forests to explore.

A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

If you are using this guide as an introduction to the park, we recommend starting at the Park Office where you can find detailed maps of all of the different areas in Kinnickinnic State Park. You will also find helpful staff members who can answer any questions that you have!

A Complete Guide To Kinnickinnic State Park

Wisconsin has a rich park system that is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors of America’s Dairyland. Kinnickinnic State Park offers something for everyone with its plentiful activities, breathtaking landscapes, and opportunities to connect with nature.

Since this is a day park – it is set up for that perfect picnicing experience! Tables and grills are available at a variety of locations throughout the park. The largest picnic area is at the St. Croix overlook. Another popular picnic area is near the swimming area.

History of Kinnickinnic State Park

The area of what is now Kinnickinnic State Park has been a favorite summer destination since roughly 1883. Being located close to the twin cities, it was the perfect place to get out of town and relax.

There is a funny story about this – in the early 20th century, when Wisconsin was looking over land for state parks, this area along the Kinni river was looked at. It just took quite a few years before they finally did something about it!

In a memorable effort to make the park a reality, three families donated parcels of their land to the state. Carl and Alice Pemble, Homer and Mildred Creswell and George and Wilma Richter donated a total of 45 acres to the Department of Natural Resources for the creation of a new state park. These gifts, combined with the overwhelming support of the remainder of the affected landowners, so impressed the Natural Resources Board that they established Kinnickinnic State Park in 1972.

Wisconsin DNR

Kinnickinnic Park was established in 1961 as a camping park. Today, it is still one of the most popular parks among campers for its easy accessibility and scenic beauty.

In 1976, the Kinni River’s mouth became part of Kinnickinnic State Park. The St. Croix River offers challenging kayaking or canoeing on some days while other days are perfect for beginner paddlers looking to enjoy nature at their own pace.

Volunteers have always been a huge part of the Kinnickinnic State Park history – they have restored about 50 acres of prairie, developed almost 7 miles of hiking trails, and then planted more than 20,000 trees!

That is a serious commitment to nature!

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Kinnickinnic State Park Camping

Here is the thing with this park – it is what they call a “day park” – which means that there are no campsites available. At. All.

It is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round, but not 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

You simply can’t stay there overnight, unless you are on your boat and in the designated mooring area.

Have no worries- there is a ton of stuff to do during the day – and plenty of places close enough to rest your head at night.

There are plenty of options available at night so don’t worry about not being able to stay overnight here! One option would be camping down south by Stockholm where there is access for RVs/trailers as well as tent sites (or head back north up Highway 35E) and camp at one of the many primitive campsites on the Kinnickinnic River.

Kinnickinnic State Park Activities

Have no worries- Kinnickinnic has plenty of other activities to fill your time! Here’s just a few:

Hiking, biking, running (you can borrow bikes), canoeing and kayaking in the Kinnickinnic River, picnicking by the lake, or on any one of many scenic picnic areas inside the park.

As for wildlife viewing? Head up Highway 35E past Stockholm and you’ll also find access to hunting grounds where you might spot deer, turkeys, and Canada geese during the winter months.

Let’s get more into detail!

Kinnickinnic State Park Water Sports

Kinnickinnic State Park has a beach area located on the Kinnickinnic River. Bring your paddle board, kayak or canoe and hit the water!

Kinnickinnic State Park Park Fishing

If fishing is your thing then this is an amazing place for it! You’ll be able to hit the water from either bank of the Kinnickinnic River. This stretch also offers fly fishermen plenty of access points where they might catch brown trout, steelhead fish, and Chinook salmon too!

If you like German brown trout – the Kinnickinnic River is the perfecta trout stream for you!

If walleye is more your thing – the St. Croix river will let you wiggle your worm from either shore or your boat.

You can also go fishing off of the pier in warmer months for largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill and other fish species found locally.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

Kinnickinnic State Park Swimming

There is a great sandy beach at the park, and the swimming area is marked with buoys. You won’t have a lifeguard to look over you, but the sandy beach and gorgeous view more than make up for it.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayaking

During the summer, you can rent kayaks at the Kinnickinnic State Park area and explore nearby lakes or head upstream to find some rapids.

It is a great place to bring your boat, kayak, or even canoe. Water skiing, sunbathing and windsurfing are very popular here.

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayak Rental

While this park doesn’t offer rentals, there are many places close by that can assist you:

Kinni Kayaks, River Guide Kayaks, and even Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters ae close, and all offer tours of some sort. It these crazy Covid-19 times, it is always advisable to do a quick Google search, and contact them directly to make sure their hours and offeirings are still the same as many websites are never updated.

Hiking at Kinnickinnic State Park

All of those volunteers had been busy as Kinnickinnic State Park offers about 9.2 miles of hiking trails winding through hills, woods and prairies. Off-road bicycling is allowed on the Red Trail only…so you can enjoy the other trails without worrying about getting run over.

The 8 trails are named by color: Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown. They range from half a mile long to almost 3 miles and all offer slightly different scenery.

Keep in mind that there are rattlesnakes at Kinnickinnic State Park – should you encounter one on the trail, use your head and follow precautions.

This is a quick overview of the trails

– The Pink Trail is a mile and a half long and is accessible from a number of parking areas near the park office. This relatively open and flat trail leads along the forest edge around a few small prairie areas.

– The Red Trail offers almost three miles of hiking in either direction. The trail is relatively easy and winds through prairies, pine plantations and open hardwood forests. It follows the contours of the Kinnickinnic bluff and provides scenic views of the Kinnickinnic River valley.

Hidden Falls is actually a hidden waterfall and you can only see a small glimpse of it at the bottom of the ravine.

– The Orange Trail is only a half mile long, but will give hikers a challenge as they go along a wooded trail that follows the steep bluff edge atop of the Kinnickinnic River valley. This trail has some hills and more difficult terrain so make sure you have the proper footwear before heading out on this adventure!

– The Yellow Trail is just over a mile in length. This trail is accessible from the Kinni Overlook lot and is a loop along the forest and prairie edge. This trail is relatively flat and is a great spot to see wildlife such as deer, pheasants and turkeys.

– The Green Trail is a favorite for kids with its one mile loop that takes them around the perimeter of a large prairie area and is accessible from the Yellow trail. These native grasslands are being restored and are home to many birds and other animals. Even timber rattlesnakes are occasionally seen on this trail.

– The Blue Trail is an easy hike of less than a mile which leads hikers on a wooded trail that connects the east half of the park with the west half. There are some steep hills on this trail as it dips in and out of the gorges and coulees that run into the Kinnickinnic River valley.

– The Purple Trail with a one-mile loop, this wooded, rolling trail bisects the picnic area and leads southwest along the bluff atop the Kinnickinnic River Delta, intersecting with the Orange and Yellow trails.

– The Brown Trail is the shortest at about a tenth of a mile and leads to a small overlook.

Most trails allow dogs too – if your furry friend wants some exercise along side you then bring them along! Just remember that all pets must be leashed while visiting the park grounds.

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

You can access it here and print off a copy for yourself:

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

Golfing in the area

While there is no golf course IN the park, Clifton Hollow Golf Club is close, in River Falls. Awesome golf course with a fun layout of holes, and great pricing.

Kinnickinnic State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

You need to follow general safety precautions like wear the trusty blaze orange gear and know where you can and can not point that rifle.

Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails.

Kinnickinnic State Park in Winter

During winter, the Red, Blue, Brown, Pink and Black trails are packed and open as multi-use trails. Hiking, snowshoeing, skate or classic skiing, skijoring and pets are allowed on these trails. Fat tire bicycles are allowed on the Red Trail only.

winter in peninsula state park

Classic-only cross-country skiing is allowed on the Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange trails. Winter use and directional designations apply to these classic ski trails once the trails are snowcovered and groomed. NO hiking, snowshoeing, skate skiing, skijoring or pets are allowed on these trails.

Kinnickinnic State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the St. Croix Animal Friends at (715) 749-3763.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like white-tailed deer, raccoons, American minks, red- and gray fox, Eurasian red squirrel, rabbit, weasel and North American beavers have all been spotted at Kinnickinnic.

Hotels Near Kinnickinnic State Park

If you want more time in the area, make sure you book an overnight room at one of the area hotels.

Best Western Plus Campus Inn

This 3-star hotel has rooms that are larger than you might think, and an awesome “Continental” breakfast. Not your typical muffins, fruit and cereal – they have things like ham omelets, Cinnamon French toast and biscuits and gravy with eggs. 100 Spring St, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-1045

Country Inn River Falls

Off Highway 65, this relaxed, country-style hotel is a 3-minute drive from River Falls, and 2.4 miles from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. 1525 Commerce Ct, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-9500

Historic Afton House Inn

Country-chic rooms, some with river views, in a warm inn offering fine dining & a cozy wine bar. 3291 St Croix Trail S, Afton, MN 55001•(651) 436-8883

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A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

Perrot State Park is a Wisconsin state park on the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. This 1,212-acre park offers visitors over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails with scenic views of the river valley.

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

Perrot State Park is home to many different species of wildlife including whitetail deer and coyote. If you are looking for an escape from the city without traveling too far away then this might be just what you need!

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

As one of Wisconsin’s Western region parks, Perrot State Park offers visitors a chance to experience the Mississippi River at its best. The park is best known for its beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife, and four hiking trails that traverse through forests on both sides of the river valley.

History of Perrot State Park

As one of the oldest state parks in Wisconsin, Perrot State Park has a rich history. It was originally formed underground before the waters receded. Then the glaciers padded though, shearing the tops off of the bluffs and rerouting the Mississippi from one side of the park to the other.

The park’s human history goes back over 7,000 years, starting with the Archaic Indians who passed through here on their way to various hunting grounds. Many other tribes have utilized this area as well, building effigy mounds that are still visible today.

In the late 1600s, the French fur trade brought Indians and French together here. French explorer Nicholas Perrot spent the winter in the area in 1685 and, 45 years later, the French established a permanent fort on the site. The park was eventually named after Perrot.

In the early 1900s, local citizens were determined to keep Perrot State Park safe and thriving. The park was established in 1907 when they donated land for its protection. By 1915, a dam had been built across the Mississippi River near Hastings creating an artificial lake that would become known as Lake Perrot.

The park was established after Winona-based businessman John Latsch donated 880 acres to the state, asking that the park be named for French fur trader Nicholas Perrot, who set up trading with local tribes in the area in the 1600s.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression.

In the summer of 1935 construction began on the new camp at Perrot State Park by the 2606th company of the CCC. By October of the same year, the final personnel was stationed at the camp.

The company’s first project was transplanting trees from an area of the park, which was to be flooded due to the construction of the lock and dam in Trempealeau. The trees were used in other areas of this and other state parks. Perrot State Park was officially opened on June 25, 1936.

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Perrot State Park’s Effigy Mounds

There are several different ones at Perrot State Park, and they are all worth the visit.

Effigy Mound is a type of Native American burial monument made from earth or stones. These types of mounds were created during prehistoric times to honor their ancestors who did great things for them in life such as being a chief, an important member of society, warrior heroes

If you drive into the park following riverbank road from Trempealeau, the first group of mounds will be to your left just before you reach the park office. There are 11 conical mounds there, nicely scattered on both sides of the trail.

Further down the road, next to the parking lot just before you reach the Nature Center, is the best-marked group of mounds in the park.

This seems to be the Trowbridge Group. Find the trail starting at the parking lot and marked with the “Interpretive trail” icon (it doesn’t explicitly mention mounds). Just down the path, you’ll see marked deer and wolf effigies and one conical mound on the right side of the trail, and 4 unmarked conical mounds on the left side of the trail.

Effigies look very low and degraded, beaten by time. But on the bright side, the entire group is covered with a thick mat of grass, preventing further erosion by elements.

Please remember that these are sacred spaces – used for either burial or ceremonial purposes and they are not meant to be walked on.

Perrot State Park Camping

Perrot State Park offers 102 family campsites and four walk-in group campsites. The family campground has flush toilets, showers, and a dump station in prime season.

All of the group sites will accommodate at least 20 campers. At this group camp area, there is a vault toilet and drinking water. Carts are available for moving equipment from the parking lot to the campsites. Camping fees are charged on a per-night basis, and reservations may be made by calling the Perrot State Park office.

We do not recommend this area for families with children under 16 years of age. The trails are rugged and steep in many places along the river banks which makes them dangerous for hiking or biking.

Family Campground Map

Perrot State Park Activities

The campground is known for its natural, archaeological, and historical resources. Perrot is a day-use park, with camping available in the campground.

We recommend visitors to explore the Mississippi River and nearby towns on bike or foot. Perrot contains over 25 miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats which range from woodland forests to open sand dunes and wet prairies.

Perrot water sports

Enthusiasts will enjoy the water access to swim, canoe, and kayaking. Personally? I love the Voyageurs 3.4 mile long Canoe Trail!

Voyageurs were French Canadian explorers that came to this area in the mid-1600s to expand the fur trade. Canoes were their primary means of transportation. Explore Trempealeau Bay as the voyageurs did on our 3.4-mile looped canoe trail. The trail is marked by blue/white directional signs and takes about 2-3 hours to complete.

Perrot State Park Fishing

Perrot State Park is a great destination for anglers. The Mississippi River and the Trempealeau Bay are both excellent fishing areas with good numbers of bass, panfish, perch, catfish, walleye, and northern pike available year-round.

Shoreline fishing is an option. Note that the Trempealeau River is shallow as it passes by the park and water levels change throughout the year. Fishing in Trempealeau Bay varies depending upon the time of year and changing water levels. Nearby are other areas that provide shore fishing opportunities as well as boat access.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

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Perrot State Park Swimming

Sorry, there really isn’t a place to swim here – but there is a beach area on the Mississippi River.

Perrot State Park Kayaking

There is a boat landing on the Trempealeau River, which gives access to Trempealeau Bay and the Mississippi River under a railroad bridge.

A specially adapted kayak is available for use by people with disabilities. Please call the park to make arrangements. We love that!

Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at the park headquarters.

Hiking at Perrot State Park

The park has 12.5 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails take you up to the top of the bluffs and give you a unique opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the Mississippi River valley.

The bluff trails have steep climbs and some have steps or stairways. For a closer view of the river and Trempealeau Bay, hike the Riverview trail, which travels the entire length of the park.

Black Walnut nature trail (0.5 miles)

The Black Walnut nature trail is a loop that takes you through the woods and explains why black walnuts are so nutritious with 20 interpretive stops. Guides are available at the trailhead. Find out how Native Americans lived in this area. The trail is relatively flat and is covered with wood chips.

Brady’s Bluff trail – north (1.0 mile)

Hike from park shop to the top of the bluff. The Brady’s Bluff trail (north) is the steepest trail in Perrot State Park.

Brady’s Bluff trail – west (0.5 miles)

Start your hike at Brady’s parking lot above the boat landing. As you travel along this winding trail up to the goat prairie at the top of the bluff, look for the rock steps and walls that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s.

The wooden stairway was constructed in 1995 by the Wisconsin Conservation Corps. As you take each step, imagine carrying up the materials and tools to build these stairs. As you approach the top of the bluff to enjoy the views of Trempealeau Mountain and Trempealeau Bay, you will encounter a shelter building also constructed by the CCC.

Take a break in the shade of the shelter and maybe a turkey vulture or eagle will soar by. The trail is narrow and steep and you will encounter steps and a stairway.

Great River State Trail

Perrot State Park is adjacent to the 24 mile Great River State Trail, where you can bicycle or snowmobile as well as hike and snowshoe.

Perrot Ridge trail (1.5 miles)

Start your hike at the Mounds parking lot near the park headquarters. Meander through the lower prairie, and climb stairs up to the top of the ridge and enjoy views of the river, Trempealeau Bay, and the surrounding farmlands.

Travel along a narrow trail at the top of the bluff and head back down past the Perrot historical marker where you can learn about Nicholas Perrot, who traveled and camped in this area in 1685. The trail is steep and you will encounter some stairs.

Riverview trail (2.5 miles)

Walk along the water’s edge with close-up views of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers. This trail goes from the campground to the east entrance with access to the trail at any of the parking lots. The trail is relatively flat, with some steps, but no steep climbs.

Perrot State Park Trail Map

perrot state park hiking map

Perrot State Park Nature Center

Take in a variety of live animal displays, educational exhibits, and children’s activities. This is the perfect spot for young families to explore nature together or for school groups that are looking to get connected with local flora and fauna.

We love the Wisconsin Explorer Books that have nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes, and crafts.

Visitors will also find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always a plus.

Perrot State Park Rock Climbing

The Perrot State Park “mountain” is a great spot for outdoor rock climbing. With three trails to the summit, any time of year is a great time to visit Brady’s Bluff. Visitors will find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always nice when you’re out exploring nature with your friends or family and want to share photos!

Golfing in the area

Trempealeau Mountain Golf Club is the place you want to check out. With its newly remodeled clubhouse, courses, and pro shop you’ll feel right at home.

Perrot State Park Hunting

For those who would like to supplement their diet with some fresh meat, Perrot State Park is a great place for hunting. The park has two designated areas for hunters and they even offers guided hunts!

Perrot State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Visitors will find many trails to explore, ice fishing holes that are open for a limited time, and cross-country skiing.

If you’re up for it!

winter in peninsula state park

When snow conditions permit, nine miles of trail are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing. Skate skiing is allowed only on a one-mile section of trail in the campground. Each skier age 16 and older must have a state trail pass when the trails are groomed. Hiking, snowshoeing, and pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails.

Snowshoeing at Perrot State Park

Snowshoeing is allowed on any trail that is not groomed for skiing. The Black Walnut nature trail, Riverview trail, Brady’s Bluff east and west trails, and sections of the Perrot Ridge trail are open for snowshoeing and winter hiking. Snowshoes are available for rent at the park headquarters.

The Park does not monitor ice conditions on the rivers. Be extremely cautious of ice conditions at all times.

When out snowshoeing you can look for signs of wildlife. Be sure to have bear spray with you and enjoy the outdoors!

If you are a beginner, the park offers snowshoe rentals.

Skiing at Perrot

Maybe snowshoeing isn’t your thing but skiing is . Perrot State Park has groomed cross-country ski trails that make for a fun day of exploring the outdoors.

The park also offers rental equipment if you do not have your own gear.

Most of the trails we covered for hiking on are converted to either cross country or snowshoeing trails i the winter.

Perrot State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Winona Area Humane Society at (507) 452-3135.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Many large and small animals inhabit the park. Beaver, muskrats, mink, and occasionally otters are found in wetland areas. Deer, raccoons, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, fox, weasels, many species of mice, shrews, and bats have all been spotted at Perrot.

Restaurants Near Perrot State Park

If you’re in the area and need a place to eat, there are some good options for restaurants that are close by Perrott.

Sullivan’s Supper Club

This Irish-themed riverfront eatery doling out steak, seafood & burgers in casual environs with a patio. Keep in mind that supper clubs are only open for supper. W25709 Sullivan Rd, Trempealeau, WI 54661

River Cafe

Their diverse menu consists of traditional breakfast and lunch items, healthy choices, and vegetarian food. You MUST try the homemade pies! W27296 Highway HH, Trempealeau, WI 54661

The Historic Trempealeau Hotel, Restaurant, and Saloon

The bluff views are second to none while the atmosphere has authentic river charm. The farm-to-table fare ranges from comfort classics to adventurous. 11332 Main St, Trempealeau, WI 54661

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A Complete Guide To Peninsula State Park

Nestled in the heart of Door County, Peninsula State Park is hands down one of the most popular states for camping. With its extensive hiking trails and scenic views, is a favorite destination for campers and hikers alike in the East Wisconsin Waters area.

A Complete Guide To Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is a 3,776-acre Wisconsin state park with eight miles of Green Bay shoreline in Door County. Peninsula is the third largest state park in Wisconsin and is visited by an estimated one million visitors annually.

A Complete Guide To Peninsula State Park

One of the best things about Peninsula State Park is that it’s so close to Door County – a must-see area when visiting Wisconsin. But what if you’re not into camping? There is so much to see and do in the area that it is worth checking out, even if you are staying at another property in the area.

From hiking the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse to Nicolet beach, Peninsula State Park has so much to offer the person that simply wants to connect with nature.

Love hunting out the fall colors? Peninsula State Park has an impressive variety of colors and trees, so you won’t be disappointed when venturing out for the splendor of nature.

History of Peninsula State Park:

In 1909 the land that Peninsula State Park sits on was purchased for less than $20 per acre. One year later, the Wisconsin legislature officially establishes the park. That made it the second State Park of Wisconsin.

Early projects included miles of roads, scenic lookouts, campgrounds, two towers, and initial portions of two golf courses. That, when added to the incredible beauty of the area, makes it easy to see how an estimated twenty-thousand people visited Peninsula State Park during its 1919 season.

With the Great Depression came the Civilian Conservation Corps. With a camp of 208 men, there were completed projects like rebuilding Eagle Tower, constructing stone fences, clearing hiking trails and roads, planting trees, and refurbishing the ski jump and toboggan run near today’s Nature Center.

During World War 2, A German Prison Camp was set up in Fish Creek and the inmates were used for everything from picking cherries to park construction projects.

Peninsula State Park is more than just camping. There are plenty of activities for people who don’t want to sleep out in their tent or RV while visiting Wisconsin. There’s so much open space and natural beauty that you can experience without sleeping out under the stars.

Peninsula State Park Camping

Peninsula State Park offers a diverse range of camping areas for visitors to enjoy. There are many campgrounds that have everything from tent sites to electric and water hookups, showers, flush toilets, and more!

Considered Wisconsin’s most complete park, Peninsula has 468 campsites, three group camps, a summer theater, an 18-hole golf course, sand beach, biking, hiking and ski trails, 150-foot bluffs, a lighthouse, and eight miles of Door County shoreline.

The topography is varied, with rolling hills and open meadows in addition to woodlands that cover about 80% of the park’s landscape. Hiking trails are plentiful, with many looping through forests or over bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other.

Peninsula State Park Campsite Map

Nicolet Bay

Nicolet Bay is divided into two parts, North and South. The Nicolet Bay camping area has one-hundred and eighty-eight campsites sites, thirty-three of which have electricity. There are shower/flush toilet buildings throughout the campground.

Tennison Bay

This is where we normally pitch our pop-up. Tennison Bay is the largest campground in the park; it has one-hundred and eighty-eight campsites, fifty-six of which are electric. Tennison has two shower/bathroom facilities and three flush toilet facilities (without showers).

There is a playground and kayak launch at the north end of the campground. Tennison is the only campground open year-round.

Weborg Point

Weborg is Peninsula’s smallest campground, with twelve electric sites and one shower/toilet building. These sites are popular with RV and trailer campers. Weborg is near the park’s Fish Creek entrance and has views of downtown Fish Creek.

A concrete pier at the tip of Weborg Point is popular with recreational fishermen. The Weborg Point shelter is available for reservations.

Welcker’s Point

Welcker’s Point is an eighty-one-site non-electric campground located at the northern peninsula of the park. Welcker’s is popular among campers with tents and small trailers because of the heavily wooded nature of the surrounding forest.

It is also at the head of many hiking and biking trails (including a path to Nicolet Beach) and has a reservable shelter just outside the campground, which is a popular place for visitors to view bats 30 minutes after sunset during summer evenings.

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Peninsula State Park Amphitheater

Formerly known as American Folklore Theatre, the Peninsula State Park Northern Sky Theater seats up to 650 people and hosts concerts in June, July, and August that can usually be heard from your campsite!

Two unique theaters showcase original musicals from “one of the most exceptional professional troupes in the country (Chicago Tribune).” Find yourself nestled in the woods under the stars at the Peninsula Park outdoor stage. Relax indoors at the intimate, new Gould Theater.

They usually run three comedic shows over a summer season. The amazing setting has you tucked into the forest of one of Wisconsin’s most-loved state parks. Under the pines and starry sky, we’ll lift your spirits.

Campers at the park receive up to a 20% discount on all Northern Sky summer shows.

Peninsula State Park Activities

There are so many things to do at Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin, it’s hard to know where to start. One of the most popular activities is hiking as there is so much beauty surrounding you. The park also has biking trails that are perfect for cross-country skiing during winter or mountain biking during the summer. Other popular activities include hunting, fishing, and kayaking.

Biking at Peninsula State Park

There’s a bike trail for everyone, from easy to difficult and all distances in between. If you want to go fast, head out on North Trail or South Trail where there is no stop-and-go traffic like other parks might have during peak season.

Throw your bike in the back of your car and get ready for a beautiful ride on one of Wisconsin’s best biking trails! We recommend Outer Drive, which is located off State Highway 42 near Peninsula Boat Launch.

There are also more difficult trails in Peninsula State Park, such as the North Shore Trail or South Shore Trail. These routes will lead you to some of the best views on Lake Michigan – absolutely worth it!

The Sunset Bike Trail is a 5.1-mile (8.2 km) paved/gravel trail that starts at the Sunset Point parking area and ends in Fish Creek. This is a great trail for beginners who are looking to get their biking legs!

Did you forget your bike? No worries – you can rent one. There are several places in the area to rent bikes – including Peninsula Boat Launch, Horseshoe Bay Resort, and the Door County Visitor Center.

Peninsula State Park Bird Feeding

The peninsula is home to a lot of birdlife. When you are visiting make sure to stop by some of the feeding stations and check out all the different species! The

Cedar Nature Center has several feeders, including one that is accessible for wheelchairs.

In 1977, 47 species of birds were counted in the forests and campgrounds of the park – that is great for any ornithologist!

Chickadees will feed on the hands of visitors at Peninsula State Park’s Nature Center. Visitors can bring their own black oil sunflower seed to feed to birds making this a fun and pretty much free activity to do with the kids.

Peninsula State Park Bird Feeding

Peninsula State Park Cemeteries

Visitors can explore the park’s cemeteries and gravesites, which are a glimpse into Wisconsin history.

There is no charge for entering but donations to help maintain this historic site are always welcome! The gatehouse houses small exhibits about early settlers in Door County.

You will see some of the most significant settlers in Door County and should always be to visit them, lest they be forgotten.

Two established cemeteries, the Claflin-Thorp Cemetery (also called the Pioneer Cemetery) and Blossomburg Cemetery, hold some of our county’s most treasured forefathers and mothers and our more recent beloved characters.

Peninsula State Park Disc Golf

One of my favorite things to do is play disc golf at Peninsula State Park. It’s one of the best courses in Door County, and it has 18 holes that are spread over a variety of terrain – some wooded areas, open fields, cedar trees.

Peninsula State Park Eagle Lookout

Not to be confused with the Eagle Tower, the Eagle Lookout is a 170-foot high cliff on the west side of Peninsula State Park. The cliffs are composed primarily of limestone and sandstone with many large outcroppings that offer views across much of Door County.

The Eagle Trail, which runs through most of the park, offers expansive views from one end to another (except for the deep valley of Big Creek).

The Eagle Tower was a 76-foot tall observation tower located atop the 180-foot limestone Eagle Bluff. The tower offers views of the park, surrounding islands, and the Michigan shoreline. The most recent tower was built in 1932 to replace the original tower built on Eagle Bluff in 1914.

It was just updated in 2020 and now is handicap accessible.

Peninsula State Park Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

In 1875, the first of two lighthouses were built on Eagle Bluff. The lighthouse was constructed to warn ships away from a reef that extended across the entrance to Porte des Morts Bay at the mouth of Big Creek and led into fish-filled waters sheltered by landmasses on either side. In 1926, this original lighthouse was replaced by the current lighthouse.

The park’s Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is open to visitors from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and it offers tours on weekends during those months. The tour includes a climb up 126 steps to reach the top of the tower where there are sweeping views of Wisconsin’s only saltwater shoreline and the surrounding countryside.

Visitors can also explore the restored 1902 lighthouse keeper’s home museum, which includes exhibits about maritime history and local flora and fauna.

The former lighthouse keeper’s home has been a museum since 1963. Park admission and a donation is required to tour the lighthouse.

Tour-goers are encouraged to bring their cameras since there is a large viewing window that looks out over Big Creek at its mouth as well as views of Eagle Bluff Lighthouse on the shoreline.

Peninsula State Park Water Sports

Water sports are a major draw for summer campers and day visitors alike

Peninsula State Park has watercraft rentals, fishing spots, plenty of opportunities to swim in the lake or Bay.

Peninsula State Park Fishing

The fish species in the waters of Peninsula State Park are plentiful. Anglers can catch walleye, northern pike, and bass but there is also an opportunity to find a variety of panfish like bluegill, crappies, or sunfish.

Some of the more common fish in Peninsula State Park are carp, catfish, and bullhead.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year-round.

Peninsula State Park Swimming

The Beach at Peninsula State Park

The park’s sandy swimming beach—popular with campers and very crowded during warm summer days—is located at Nicolet Bay.

Nicolet beach at Peninsula State Park is perfect for a swim or just relaxing on the sand. The water may be too cold to go in during winter, but in summer there are plenty of people who come out and enjoy an afternoon by the lake. There is a public boat launch in the park but you need to be aware that there’s limited parking.

One of the easiest ways to have an enjoyable walk during your stay at Peninsula State Park, especially if it’s early summer and flowers are blooming everywhere, is by following the shoreline. The trail starts at the campsites and then follows along Lake Michigan, so it’s an easy walk for everyone.

There is an accessible beach that can accommodate wheelchairs

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Peninsula State Park Kayaking

A kayak trip is a great way to see Peninsula State Park and the surrounding area. There are many different routes you can take so there’s one perfect for everyone!

Once on the water, you can paddle past towering limestone bluffs, pass Eagle Bluff lighthouse, Chambers Island, Horseshoe Island, Eagles Cave, Eagle Harbor, and Eagle Bluff.

You don’t need any experience or equipment, just a little common sense (like wearing lots of sunscreen).

Peninsula State Park Kayak Rental

You rent your canoe or kayak from Cedar Nature Center and paddle to the peninsula. There are also a lot of companies that will rent to you – who also offer tours. Like Door County Kayak Tours.

Peninsula State Park Cliff Jumping

There are a few famous cliff jumping spots in the park.

Actually, it is legal to jump from any of Peninsula State Park’s cliffs into Lake Michigan as long as you do not interfere with other visitors or go out on the rocks at night.

It would be best to check up on these rules before your visit.

One of my favorite places is a somewhat hard-to-find spot on Cliff Drive, that overlooks Lake Michigan and has some of the most beautiful views in Door County.

It does require walking through some woods for about half a mile but it’s well worth it!

Hiking at Peninsula State Park

Visitors can explore the area’s rugged shoreline and varied forests on hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

There are guided hikes offered, which include a variety of topics such as animals in different habitats or geological formations. Guided tours last about two hours and leave every hour from April through October.

You might want to check on that before you go as COVID-19 had changed a few things that involved park staff last year.

The park also offers self-guided walking tours. Near the Cedar Nature Center is a self-guided loop of about two miles which takes visitors past some of the park’s most scenic spots including Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and Big Creek at its mouth.

The trails are open to hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers, and horseback riders. Due to restrictions on pets in the park, dog walkers are encouraged to take pets on a leash, but we will cover the dog policy in a bit.

Peninsula State Park Hiking Trails

When talking about hiking, we should mention the hiking trails

There are a lot of hiking trails in Peninsula State Park.

Hikers can find more than 30 miles of marked and maintained trails that range from easy to challenging, as well as abundant opportunities for off-trail exploration. Some popular hikes include:

  • Kiwanis Trail
  • The Gables
  • Big Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve (includes a 115 ft. high steel tower)
  • Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
  • Ridges Sanctuary and more.

The Lone Pine Trail is a challenging, four-mile loop within the park that is popular with local hikers.

Peninsula State Park Trail Map

Peninsula State Park Nature Center

In addition to the wonderful hiking trails, they also have a Nature Center. The nature center has so much to offer visitors! It is an educational and recreational facility that offers programs for children as well as adults on subjects related to the natural history of Door County.

I can’t say enough about nature centers at state parks. We have SUCH a great time exploring them, and all of the programs that they offer.

The White Cedar Nature Center features a display of mounted animals, as well as historic photos and artifacts, and a large diorama of the park. The building was constructed in 1939 as a winter warming house for the nearby ski jump and toboggan run, both abandoned in the 1940s.

The building houses exhibits about the peninsula’s ecosystems, wildlife species found in Peninsula State Park, and the park’s history. Add in education programs, including hikes, campfire talks, and nature crafts year-round? When you visit Peninsula State Park, you need to be sure to spend some time at their nature center!

I might even bring my kid!

Ha!

Golfing in the area

I am not a huge golfer, but can occasionally indulge in it.

The peninsula offers more than just a great place to camp. They also have golfing available in the area! Peninsula State Park golf course began as a 6 Hole course in 1917, grew to 9 Holes in 1923, and expanded to an 18 Hole course in 1931. They also have a Beautiful 6 Hole Short Course for play.

You can learn all about them on their webiste – even book a tee time

Peninsula State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails, but they can be walked outside the park’s conservation areas off-leash or with a leash no longer than six feet in length (excluding retractable leashes). Dogs must always remain under the control of their handlers at all times.

Dogs are permitted in the following areas off-leash or with a leash no longer than six feet in length:

  • The prairie west of Pierce Lake Road
  • Pierce Creek Preserve on the south end of Peninsula State Park
  • The prairie east of Pierce Lake Road
  • Big Bay Woods Sanctuary along the Big Bay Shelf Nature Trail
  • The Point (inside and outside)
  • Carlton Pond Campground & Day Use Area.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Pierce Creek Preserve on the north end of Peninsula State Park
  • Big Bay Woods Sanctuary along the Big Bay Shelf Nature Trail
  • -The Point (inside)
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped.

If you do lose your pet you can contact the Wisconsin Humane Society Door County Campus at (920) 746-1111

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, red fox, coyote, squirrels, and beavers. Black bears, cougars, groundhogs, and wolves have all been spotted at Peninsula State Park.

Peninsula State Park Hunting

Hunting is permitted in the park but not on ski trails, by order of the DNR.

Archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. At Peninsula State Park, there is a traditional 9-day muzzleloader-only gun deer hunt. There is no other gun hunting in the park.

Let me make that clear: only shotguns are allowed during hunting season (closed to public use). Hunting-related information can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

Trapping is not permitted in closed areas, as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties.

State of Wisconsin Hunting Information

Peninsula State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, and hiking tours.

If you are unfamiliar with Snowshoeing, it is exactly what it sounds like. You strap on a pair of shoes that have cleats at the bottom to attach themselves to the ground and then walk up hills or over hard-packed snow. Peninsula State Park is a great place to snowshoe in the winter because it has stunning views of Lake Michigan and lots of trails

winter in peninsula state park

Another way to explore peninsula state park is by Cross Country Skiing.

There are groomed, well-marked ski trails with hills that provide challenging terrain for advanced skiers and enough flat and easy trails for those who are just learning.

We recommend renting skis at the park or in town before you head out, as they will make it easier to get started.

Sledding is a lot of fun to do too.

Bring your own or rent one from the park office, and explore all of Peninsula State Park’s hills.

The main sledding hill is located in Campground A near campsite 30-34. There’s also a toboggan run that you can access by taking the white trail (trail #16) to where it dead-ends at the sledding hill.

The Peninsula Winter Sports Center is open until December 23rd every year and has a well-appointed rental center with cross-country skis, snowshoes, sleds, and more.

Peninsula State Park Wedding Info

Peninsula State Park is a romantic spot for a wedding or elopement.

They’ll help you plan your big day and answer all of the questions about accommodations, catering, park fees, photography, officiants, and more to make sure it’s exactly what you dreamed!

Contact them today at peninsula@wisconsinstateparks.reserveamerica.com

Restaurants near Peninsula State Park

Wild Tomato Wood Fired Pizza and Grille

If you’re looking for a cozy, romantic restaurant near Peninsula State Park – try Wild Tomato. Wild Tomato is a beautiful restaurant with wood-fired pizza, appetizers, and salads with a focus on sourcing local, seasonal, and organic ingredients whenever possible.

In addition to the wonderful atmosphere, they have live music on Fridays from May through October! You can find them at 1407 Wisconsin 42 in Fish Creek, WI.

Julie’s Cafe

A good spot for breakfast or lunch near Peninsula State Park is Julie’s Cafe. With its charming, waterfront location in Fish Creek and a healthy menu with lots of variety, it has something to offer everyone!

They specialize in fresh baked goods including delicious muffins, scones, croissants, and other pastries. They also have an impressive soup and sandwich menu.

Julie’s Cafe can be found at 1300 Wisconsin 42 in Fish Creek, WI just a few blocks from the peninsula entrance to Peninsula State Park.

White Gull Inn

Last, but not least, we suggest the White Gull Inn and their Door County Fish Boil. This place is a Door County tradition and an absolute must for anyone staying on the peninsula! A Fish Boil is a true tradition and more about watching it being done and hearing the stories of the master chef.

Fish Boil usually runs around $18.95 and is served with coleslaw, Irish potatoes & rye bread, along with a dessert – we always seem to hit Door County Cherry Pie night. They are open year-round from 11:00 am to close with their hours varying according to season.

Lodging Near Peninsula State Park

We know – not everyone is a camper – some consider Holiday Inn as roughing it. Here are a few favorite places to lay your head if you aren’t pitching a tent.

White Gull Inn

Yes, they are a true Inn with food AND rooms to stay in. If you’re looking for a quaint, cozy inn where you can feel right at home and enjoy the company of new friends then this is your place!

The White Gull Inn has been around since 1884 when it was established as one of Door County’s first hotels. Today they offer lodging in both their main hotel and cottages.

Homestead Suites

This is a family-friendly hotel with room for the whole clan! There’s plenty of space to get away from it all and enjoy some quality time together.

Homestead Suites offers the comforts of home, plus their amenities are top notch – like a full kitchen in every suite. They have an indoor pool/spa so don’t forget to bring your swimsuits.

The Carriage House

This four-star hotel is a great place to stay if you’re looking for luxurious accommodations. The Carriage House has been around since the late 1800s and it’s located in downtown Sturgeon Bay so you’ll be close to all of the shops, restaurants, galleries, parks…whatever your heart desires! You are only an 8-minute walk from the Skyway Drive-In Theater.

Peninsula State Park Address

1220 N. Peninsula Drive, Fish Creek WI. The entrance to the park is on your right and you’ll find yourself at a stop sign that leads into the campground; keep going straight onto North Peninsula Drive

Directions to Peninsula State Park

From I-43 take Highway 42 east and follow the signs

If you’re looking for something to do in Door County year-round, Peninsula State Park is the perfect place!

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

Other articles you may find interesting:

A Complete Guide To Devil’s Lake State Park

The largest state park in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park is about thirty-five miles northwest of Madison and is on the western edge of where the last glacier stopped, right in the heart of the River Country.

A Complete Guide To Devil's Lake State Park article cover image

It was originally a gorge of the Wisconsin River prior to the last ice age. At what is now the southern end of the lake, the river turned from a southerly direction to an easterly direction. During the ice age, a lobe of the glacier passed to the east of the Baraboo Hills and came up the river valley.

A Complete Guide To Devil’s Lake State Park

From Effigy Mounds to hiking trails, Devil’s Lake has so much to offer the person that simply wants to connect with nature.

History of Devil’s Lake State Park

First settled by pioneers in the mid-1800s, it became a vacation hot spot for the Chicago and Madison elite who wanted to escape city life.

A few hotels and homes popped up to cater to that crowd, leading to the park being founded in 1911. At that time it was home to five resorts, two of which were perched on the west bluff.

No trace of any of these hotels remains today as, by the 1940s, the hotels were all closed, and the park was retreating to its former natural self.

Whew – right?

How did that happen?

From 1934 to 1941, approximately two hundred members of the Civilian Conservation Corps resided in a work camp. These young men built many of the trails, buildings, and benches still in use today.

Isn’t it amazing how they could build things almost 90 years ago that are still holding up and the roads we build now are in need of repair in less than 10 years? It astounds me!

In 1974, the National Park Service declared the Southern portion of the Baraboo Hills a National Natural Landmark. The Nature Conservancy also designated it as one of the Last Great Places; it is one of only 77 of these places in the world.

Wikipedia

It has pretty much stayed the same through today – and enables us all tons of great ways to commune with nature.

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Is Devil’s Lake State Park Haunted?

With a name like “Devil’s Lake,” y0u would think there are tons of stories about people meeting their maker and coming back to either warn others about it or to bring them along with them.

There are a lot of stories about unique animal sightings, from a “monster in the lake” to even seeing a large alligator…even Bigfoot gets a turn.

My favorite? The 10-ton ghosts of Baraboo, who were said to be deceased ghost elephants that roamed the area. After all, Baraboo was the home of the Ringling Bros. Circus – and there is a long history of how those poor elephants were treated in circuses. (I am not saying there are specific allegations against Ringling Brothers).

As for human ghosts, there is the old hitchhiker that walks along the old highway 12 on the south-west side of Baraboo. If you don’t offer him a ride he will show up further down the road. And again…

If you stop for him, he vanishes.

He wears jeans and an old army jacket – let me know if you ever see him!

Of course with the effigy mounds across the parking lot from the nature center, there are rumors of Native Americans being spotted too.

Devil’s Lake Effigy Mounds

There are several different ones at Devil’s Lake, both shaped and linear. To be seen are a Bird, Panther, Bear, and Lynx.

Please remember that these are sacred spaces – used for either burial or ceremonial purposes and they are not meant to be walked on.

Many mounds were in the area and sadly ruined with that hotel building before the Great Depression. The ones that survived were not in the path of those buildings, parking lots, and play areas. That is what makes them so special.

Have no fear – the ones left are protected and people can learn more about them at the Devil’s Lake State Park Nature Center.

Devil’s Lake State Park Camping

Devil’s Lake State Park is more rustic but beautiful and has three campgrounds with a total of 423 sites that each accommodate a family of up to 6 people.

There are 3 main campgrounds at Devil’s Lake located on the north shore of the park and a group camp area on the south shore.

Quartzite & Northern Lights Campground map at Devil's Lake
Quartzite & Northern Lights Campground map at Devil’s Lake
Ice Age Campground map of Devil's Lake State Park
Ice Age Campground map of Devil’s Lake State Park
Group Camping Map for Devil's Lake State Park
Group Camping Map for Devil’s Lake State Park

If you hang with your friends and plan “group camping” then there are nine sites for you that can accommodate a total of 240 campers – they are on the south side.

There are no campgrounds near or on the shoreline of Devil’s Lake itself.

If you’re planning to visit the campsite then a reservation is a must, as they no longer have non-reservable sites. You can make your reservations 11 months in advance.

If you are a winter camper, the Quartzite campground is the one to look at. It is also the only one open in the winter, LOL.

camping at Devil's Lake

The campground offers wooded electrical sites too. You can take a look at Devil’s Lake’s blog to see a summary of the campsite and pick your favorite.

Devil’s Lake State Park Activities

The campground has a little something for every adventurer from small to tall, with over 29 miles of hiking trails and 2 sandy beaches this place is sure to keep your group or family busy.

Devils Lake Water Sports

In the summer there is fun to be had scuba diving, fishing, swimming, kayaking, boating, and canoeing. Keep in mind that when looking at boating – NO gas motors are allowed on the lake. It is mainly kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.

Devil’s Lake State Park Fishing

While I am not the best fisherman out there Devil’s Lake is known for being a good location. It has good depth, clear water, some rock structure, and an assortment of beautiful green weeds, and when added to the fact that each year the DNR stocks the lake with Brown trout? How can you go wrong?

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

Devil’s Lake State Park Swimming

Devil’s Lake State Park offers two large and comfortable beaches to frolic in with amenities like grills, picnic areas, and a children’s play area with slides and a climbing gym.

The north shore gets more sun than the south shore but the sun lingers late along the south shore. The south shore can be a little rocky so be a little extra cautious like wearing aqua socks can keep your feet safe from nicks and cuts.

It makes for a perfect place to cool off on a hot day – just read our section on dogs (below) before you let Fido join you!

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here:

Devil’s Lake State Park Kayaking

With such a clear lake and good quality water, this is the perfect place to kayak! Especially since gas motors are NOT allowed on the Devil’s Lake.

Devil’s Lake State Park Kayak Rental

If you don’t have your own kayaks – they have you covered. Devil’s Lake State Park Concessions rents rowboats, paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, and standup boards. For more information including rates visit the concessions page.

Hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park

With over 29 hikable miles you’re sure to find adventure and endurance you might not think you had. Whether the hike is a solo trip to see how far you can go or a learning trip for the family or a group there will be wildlife to be seen along with fun to be had.

The trails vary in levels of the difficulty some have steep climbs, stairs, and descents, take a look at the trail map to see which is the right for the activity level and attendees you have in your group or family.

Keep in mind that there are rattlesnakes at Devil’s Lake State Park – should you encounter one on the trail, use your head and follow precautions.

Devil’s Lake State Park Trail Map
Devil's Lake State Park Trail Map

Devil’s Lake State Park Nature Center

The Nature Center offers a lot of different programs – for both adults and kids alike. You can sign up for a kayak tour or even help them with ecology.

Program themes include astronomy, snakes, skulls, worms, stories, beavers, rocks, spiders, Indian mounds, beetles, bird watching, bats, plants, geology, and more.

You can see a picture of Miss Sarah here – helping with their big Monarch Butterfly Count!

We love the Wisconsin Explorer Books that have nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes, and crafts.

You can also check out an Explorer backpack! These gems have magnifying lenses, bug boxes, pencils, crayons, and field guides to help your kids complete the activities in the books.

What an incredible way to help the kids connect with nature!

Devil’s Lake State Park Rock Climbing

Devil’s Lake has some of the best rock climbing sites in the Midwest. The park hires some of the best instructors, climbing guides, and outfitters for the job. Guides offer private or group anchors courses, climbing trips, bouldering, and even traditional lessons from the beginner to the experienced.

Golfing in the area

No, Devil’s Lake doesn’t have a golf course of its own, but there are three that are close by Baraboo Country Club in Baraboo, Fairfield Hills Golf Course & Range in Baraboo, and Devil’s Head Resort in Merrimac.

Devil’s Lake State Park Hunting

Yes, you can hunt at Devil’s Lake. You need to follow general safety precautions like wear the trusty blaze orange gear and know where you can and can not point that rifle.

Devil’s Lake State Park has over 6,400 acres of land that are available for hunting.

Devil’s Lake State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Activities range from snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, and hiking tours.

When out snowshoeing you can travel anywhere you’d like just not on the ski trails, there are a lot of other trails for you to see instead of trekking close to or on the ski trails though.

Devil's Lake State Park in Winter

If you’re a beginner you can take a hike around the trails before heading out on your snowshoes to get the feel of the trail. If you have forgotten to bring your own snowshoes you can get a pair free at the north shore nature center!

Maybe snowshoeing isn’t your thing but skiing is, Devil’s Lake State Park offers 5 miles of cross-country ski trails. Make sure to check the conditions before heading out to ensure the safest route as conditions vary due to terrain, shade, sun, and steepness making some trails only one way.

The park takes the time to pack the snow but does not mark the trails, you’ll be able to pick up a map or print it from the website.

Devils Lake State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Sauk County Humane Society at (608) 356-2520.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, red fox, coyote, squirrels, and beavers. Black bears, cougars, groundhogs, and wolves have all been spotted at Devil’s Lake.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails (Applies to Parfrey’s Glen)
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.
  • The Devil’s Lake South Shore Picnic area, except on paved roads and walkways en route to areas where pets are allowed.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.

Does your dog like to swim?

Devil’s Lake State Park has 3 official pet swim areas. 2 on a leash and one off-leash. The off-leash pet swim area is at the South Shore boat landing.  There is one “Pet Friendly” picnic area located on the north shore, east of the railroad tracks. Use the map below to find these locations.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Restaurants Near Devils Lake:

I know not everyone camps or likes to make an entire day out of hiking or swimming at the park. Packing a picnic? Forget it! That is why so many people search out for restaurants in the area – to help make a day out of it on their own terms.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Log Cabin Family Restaurant

The prices are great and the portions are generous. Known for their soups and pies, you really can’t go wrong here. Yes, it is an oversized log cabin and they serve breakfast all day. 1215 8th St, Baraboo, WI 53913

Baraboo Burger Company

This is more of a sports bar & grill but has tasty burgers & pub grub. In the summer you can enjoy their patio. 116 4th Ave, Baraboo, WI 53913

Gem City Saloon and Eatery

Like Pizza? This great hole-in-the-wall offers that and wings With a full bar available, it is the kind neighborhood hangout you will feel comfortable in. 124 Ash St, Baraboo, WI 53913

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

Other articles you may find interesting: