Get out and Explore Wisconsin State Parks

Get Out + Explore

author: Kelly Shoff

Written by: Kelly Shoff

Video Producer


  • Culture

Visiting State Parks for a Better State of Mind

Spring in Wisconsin can be rough … one day the sun is shining and two hours later it’s snowing. I don’t know about you, but those sunny days make surviving another Wisconsin winter a reason to celebrate. And here’s hoping that more sunny days are in our future!

As many of us discovered during the pandemic, being outdoors soaking up nature can do wonders for your mental health. Study after study finds that getting outside—whether it’s your own backyard, a neighborhood dog park, or a Wisconsin wildlife area—can actually change your brain for the better. It can help improve your focus, reduce stress, give you a sense of accomplishment, and increase your connection to your community. It also gets you away from the screens we stare at for most of the day and lets you use your other senses, like smell, touch, sound, and even taste.

With all that in mind, EPIC Creative gave everyone in the company a 2022 Wisconsin State Park pass for Employee Appreciation Day, and encouraged us to get out and explore. And we have!

Here are some of our favorite places:

Lapham Peak Unit, Kettle Moraine State Forest

Let’s go hiking: Lapham Peak Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest

This park is perfect for everyone from beginning hikers to expert trail warriors. Plus, it’s close to home for many, since it’s right off of I-94. Another bonus: you can hike a section of the Ice Age Trail, which runs through the park. While you’re there, be sure to check out the tower and learn more about Increase Lapham, who was one of the founders of the National Weather Service.

Kohler Andrae State Park

Expansive views of Lake Michigan: Kohler-Andrae State Park

If you haven’t been yet, go! It’s spectacular in any season, but it really shines in the summer. With 3 miles of boardwalks, the golden sand, and the crystal blue of Lake Michigan, it’s a must-see spot. It’s also perfect for picnics and a great place to swim. (If you can brave the chilly water!) The dunes are some of the best on this side of the lake. Added bonus: it’s only an hour from Milwaukee.

Maybe you can glimpse of a bald eagle on your visit

Living for adventure via mountain biking: Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest

This is a twofer for cyclists. Not only can you check out all the John Muir Trails, but there’s a short connector to the Emma Carlin Trail. But be prepared: even though the two parks combined have nearly 30 miles to ride, it can be busy. These trails are a destination spot for avid mountain bikers across the region.

A dog at Governor Dodge State Park

A doggone good park for dogs: Governor Dodge State Park

If you are up for a day trip, this is an awesome adventure. The park—which features some excellent waterfalls—allows dogs on all its trails. Plus it has a designated spot, Cox Hollow Beach Area, just for your four-legged friends. There’s also a picnic area right next to the beach, so you can make a day of it!

The Clear Water of Marl Lake at Hartman Creek State Park

Stay awhile; it’s one of our favorite camping spots: Hartman Creek State Park

If you want to do it all, this is your place: swimming, hiking, boating, horseback riding, and more. The park sits along the Chain O’Lakes, where you can kayak or canoe a number of slow, no-wake lakes. Marl Lake is a must-see —both for its vivid blue color and the abundance of wildlife. All the campsites are either in a red pine forest or an old apple orchard. And make sure you stop at the scenic beach for an ice cream treat to top the day off!

This is just the beginning. With 66 state parks and recreation areas to choose from, we encourage you to get out and see all the beauty Wisconsin has to offer. You’ll marvel at what a little vitamin D can do for your mood, and you’re guaranteed to see a different side of the state we all love.

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