With summer in full swing, many of us turn to the great outdoors to fill our days with adventure. We are fortunate to live in a part of the state with so many opportunities. Between hiking trails, lakes and parks, there are numerous ways to enjoy nature. I want to highlight some of my favorite places.
The Adam Birding Conservancy is a beautiful 331-acre mix of prairie, wetland and forest along the Bark River about three miles north of Whitewater. In the spring, the river overflows its banks, creating an optimal habitat for migratory waterfowl. This sanctuary is also home to pheasants, turkeys, deer, badgers, coyotes and more.
The Conservancy is home to a wide variety of plants, sedges, and trees, both native and invasive. Because the Conservancy is on private land, you need permission to access it by going to the adamconservancy.com website. As long as you agree to respect the country, you can visit as many times as you like.
Koshkonong Lake is a great place to spend a hot day. The lake is over 10,000 square feet and has a maximum depth of 7 feet, making it ideal for boating, swimming, and other water sports. The lake is accessible from public beaches, such as Lakeland Campground, and public boat launches, including those on Vinnie Haha Road and Royce-Dallman Park.
I’m working with Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism Anne Sayers and local businesses to create additional public access points. If you enjoy fishing you will find catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musk, pike and walleye. Large and smallmouth bass are particularly numerous at this time of the year.
Jefferson County has over 19 miles of hiking trails and 35 miles of bike trails. For those near Fort Atkinson and the town of Jefferson, I recommend the Rose Lake State Natural Area trails. Surrounded by wetlands, these trails offer fantastic views of the lake and its diverse wildlife. The trails are home to a complex variety of aquatic plants that provide important breeding habitat for rare native birds such as the sandhill crane and great blue heron.
For those in the Palmyra-Eagle area, the Emma Carlin and John Muir trails offer hiking and biking excursions for all skill levels. The Emma Carlin offers 3 color coded loops. The Brown Loop offers an easy 3.5 mile hike through the lowlands. The Orange Loop is a little trickier and offers a 6 mile climb with a rewarding lookout point. For those looking for a challenge, the Green Loop offers an 8-mile hike with difficult ups and downs.
The John Muir Loops include an easy Brown Loop that covers a flat 1.25 mile hike. It also features a more moderate white loop with rocky ups and downs over a 4.25-mile route. Finally, it has 4 difficult trails ranging from the Rain Dew Bypass which is 4.7 miles to the Blue Loop which is 12 miles of rocky steep hills. Bikers and serious hikers can complete each loop and the connections between these trail systems, covering over 40 miles through difficult terrain.
For information on outdoor recreation throughout the state, visit travelwisconsin.com. There you will find guides to bike rides, parks, golf courses, country roads, campgrounds, ATV trails and more. All guides are free. With summer coming up, now is the perfect time to see what our great state has to offer.