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Outdoor Report for February 9, 2017Published by the Central Office

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

The weather couldn't seem to make up its mind this week, with several inches of heavy snowfall across northern Wisconsin coming on the heels of daytime temperatures nearing the 40s in large regions of the state. Much of the rest of the state received precipitation in the form of rain.

This has made for variable trail conditions across the state. Snowmobile trails have now closed throughout most of the southern half of the state, but remain open across the north with conditions ranging from good to excellent according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Cross-country ski trails deteriorated across the southern and central parts of the state, but were still skiable at some properties such as Blue Mound State Park and the man-made snow loop at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Ski trails remain in good to excellent condition across the northern forest properties, including the Brule River State Forest, which will be holding a candlelight ski this Saturday in conjunction with the grand opening of a new ski shelter at the forest. In addition to Brule River, seven other properties will also hold candlelight events this weekend. The end of this weekend is expected to bring temperatures near the 50s, which may drastically alter trail conditions so call ahead or search the DNR website for "candlelight."

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 8 photos

A new warming house will be dedicated this Saturday at the Afterhours Ski Trail at the Brule River State Forest

Lake Winnebago System sturgeon spearing opens this Saturday and fisheries crews checking water clarity found average readings have dropped about a foot over the last week and a half but remain fair to good at an average of 9.4 feet.

Ice anglers were also out on Winnebago and report catching perch, crappie and white bass. The Wolf River has many open stretches of open water and anglers were catching a few walleyes. In the south, some sauger and crappies were being caught on Lake Wisconsin and anglers in Rock County were targeting catfish, walleye and bluegill.

On Green Bay, anglers again flocked to the Little Sturgeon area over the weekend with those in search of perch having a tough time but whitefish anglers reported a good bite, with many limits reported.

In the dead of winter, love is in the air. Grey squirrels are thinking about Valentines for their mates. Wolves are also mating and every once in a while one can catch a whiff of a fox or coyote marking their territories. Winter tracking conditions have been great in many areas, especially in the north, where in addition to more canine tracks, fisher and marten tracks have been seen. Small rodents are feeling the impact of melting and new snow. When it melts, the ground is frozen and so they do not have good underground tunnels, making them vulnerable. This is good for raptors and people looking for tracks have seen signs of wing impressions and small mammal tracks in the snow that indicated successful raptor predation.

Trappers are reporting that the warm temperatures are resulting in a lot of raccoon activity -- much more than normal for this time of year.

Ravens, bald eagle and great horned owls are nesting. Turkeys are starting to strut periodically. Partridge have been seen "budding" in aspen and ironwood. Brown creepers have occasionally shown up with the winter feeding flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches and pine siskins. There have been 200-plus tundra swans wintering on Lower Mud Lake in McFarland.

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workdays

Ridgeway Pine Relict, Feb. 17, 9 a.m.-noon. Warm up with some fires! Volunteers have been hard at work creating brush piles of invasive honeysuckle and autumn olive adjacent to scenic pine relicts at Ridgeway Pine Relict SNA. Help us burn these piles and cut more brush to throw on the fire. Native seeds collected in the fall will be scattered on these areas.

Waubesa Wetlands, Feb 18, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Join the new volunteer effort to restore Waubesa Wetlands! Waubesa is known for its large high quality wetlands and spring complexes. With increased prescribed burning and brush control DNR crews and volunteers have increased efforts to improve this site. This workday will focus on removing brush patches in a sedge meadow through cutting, treating, and burning. Some areas could have uneven terrain.

Lodi Marsh, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-noon. Come help save a native goat prairie at Lodi Marsh State Natural Area. Work with volunteers to remove encroaching eastern red cedars and invasive brush. We will be cutting the cedar and brush, piling them, and (weather permitting) burning them as we go. These work parties are a lot of fun, and you get to see some really big bonfires.

Observatory Hill State Natural Area, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-noon. A large-scale restoration is taking place at and new gaps in the canopy have been created. We will be spreading native seed to get the native understory plants started. We will also be cutting and burning cedar (if there is snow) that was missed in the harvest. Cedar was appropriate at the top of the hill but has increased in number over the last 150 years.

Chiwaukee Prairie, Feb 18, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. Remove invasive brush threatening the prairie. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/naturalareas/volunteer.html page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Earlier this week, a few inches of new snow fell. The trails have been groomed and conditions are excellent with a base of about 7 inches. The finishing touches are being put on the new warming shelter in preparation for this Saturday's Candlelight Ski Event at the AfterHours Trail. The event starts when it gets dark, around 5 p.m. Approximately 5 Km of the trails will be lit by luminaries, there will be bonfires, and hot chocolate and apple cider will be provided. A gas grill will also be available for those that would like to use it. The weather is expected to be warm -- daytime temperatures in the 30s and nighttime temperatures in the 20s. Clouds may keep us from seeing Friday's full "Snow" moon, but Saturday night may be clear enough to get a few glimpses of the nearly full moon. On Saturday, at 7 p.m., there will be a "grand opening" ceremony of the beautiful new warming shelter. Also, the Classic Trail will be re-named Sally's Classic in honor of longtime ski enthusiast and benefactor Sally Whiffen. Come join us for a family-friendly winter wonderland evening! Below are links to trail condition reports on the local snowmobile trails. Douglas County: Douglascountywi.org or call 715-378-4528 Bayfield County: Bayfieldcounty.org - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Iron County - Although there hasn't been much snow, staff have heard the groomers are out and the trails are looking good (same goes for Ashland and Bayfield counties). Staff have come across a lot more canine tracks (tis the mating season) and wildlife is out and about! There is no one at the office today because they are taking advantage of the great fishing weather. One staff member has been cutting fisher tracks and even stumbled on a marten track! - Jenna Kosnicki, wildlife biologist, Mercer

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Washburn County - Skiing is back and in good conditions in Washburn County (and other nearby areas) with a few inches of nice snowfall. As I was out wolf tracking today, I saw some ruffed grouse easily getting around on a little snow above some hard packed snow, small mammals (rodents) are feeling the impact of melting and new snow. When it melts, the ground is frozen and so they do not have good underground tunnels, making them vulnerable. This is good for raptors. I saw sign in the snow (wing and small mammal tracks) two times and another wildlife staff saw one yesterday where it seemed there were successful raptor predation. Another time today I saw an attempt of a larger raptor trying to pick up a ruffed grouse. Bottom line, it is great tracking conditions, which is a very fun winter activity. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail is groomed and in good condition. There have been a couple inches of snow recently. The snow depth is about 14 inches in the woods. The Snowmobile Trail is in good condition. Connors Lake and Lake of the Pines have about 16 inches of ice. There has been some folks out on both lakes fishing and I understand they have caught some walleyes, crappies and northerns on Connors and lots of crappies on Lake of the Pines. Mason and Evergreen Lakes are being fished for crappie, walleye and perch. February is the Sucker Moon or the Snow Moon and will be moon on Feb. 10. Logging operations on the Forest are again full speed ahead, as the landscape though snowy is very icy underneath and the frost is not deep. The loggers are working diligently to get as much done before break-up. The deer and elk are conserving their energy and aggressively browsing in logging areas. The deer are dropping their antlers. The warm temperatures were a reprieve to active winter residents like the deer, elk, wolves and coyotes though they are poised for more winter weather. Ermines are active and ravens begin nesting, wolves are mating and the bald eagles are also beginning to nest. Great horned owls are nesting. The weather forecast is for a slight chance of snow/sleet/ Friday and slight chance of snow on Saturday night. The temps for this week will be a low of minus 9 and slowly warming up during the week with highs of 36 and 34 Saturday and Sunday respectively. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Oneida County - Snow conditions in the north have improved slightly during the last week which cross country ski conditions remaining good and snowmobile trail conditions maintaining their fair condition. Lake ice conditions have firmed up creating better travel, but caution should always be exercised. Anglers are reporting consistent good catches of panfish. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The recent 2 to 5 inches of new heavy snow will make for perfect conditions for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, you name it! Partridge can be seen "budding" in aspen and ironwood. A brown creeper occasionally shows up with the winter feeding flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches and pine siskins. The grey squirrels are thinking about Valentines for their mates and every once in a while one catches a whiff of a fox or coyote marking their territories. In the dead of winter, love is in the air! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

As of February 8 all cross-country ski trails were cut and tracked. Raven trail has very good conditions. McNaughton Trail skaters loop was groomed. All other loops tracked and have very good conditions. Madeline trail has very good conditions. Escanaba Trail has excellent condition. - Tony Martinez, trails coordinator

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of Jan. 29 through Feb. 4. The Fox River at Voyageur Park is still ice free, as is the Menominee River at the Dam at Hattie Street.

Marinette County - Marinette County pike anglers are having success from Theodore Thompson Park and north. Large shiner minnows or smelt in the round fished in 4 to 12 feet of water has been working well. Still no activity a the Little River Boat Launch. Anglers fishing from the 6th Street Ramp have been catching a few perch, crappie, walleye and whitefish, fishing in the Turn Basin. A few panfish are being caught at Harbor Town Marina and the slough behind Walmart. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Geano Beach saw an influx of anglers fishing for perch out by the reef along with whitefish and walleye with some success. Pike anglers are plying their trade out in front of the Geano Beach Bar. Anglers continue to catch white fish at and around the mouth of the Oconto River using small spoons tipped with minnow heads and wax worms. Pike anglers report fishing has slowed this past week. Shacks and vehicles can be seen from Oconto Park II to the Oconto Breakwater Harbor. Anglers report catching pike in 4 to 12 feet of water using large shiner minnow or smelt in the round. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Most of the fishing pressure has been centered between Long Tail and Little Tail. Anglers at Long Tail have been catching perch mainly fishing in 4 to 8 feet of water. Minnows and wax worms have worked well. A few walleye and white fish are also being caught in the area. Anglers are entering Little Tail via Sunset Beach and going north. A few pike along with perch are being caught. - Kevin King, fisheries technician

Volk's Landing was busy at the end of the week with anglers for the most part driving out to their shacks. Bayshore Park and Dyckesville seemed to not attract as many anglers this past week as usual and no interviews were conducted. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Door County - Anglers flocked to the Little Sturgeon area over the weekend with most locations people having to park a ways away. Anglers in search of perch in Little Sturgeon had a tough time getting anything to bite. The whitefish anglers reported a good bite all around, with many limits reported. Anglers at Lime Kiln and Big Rock Place reported a good bite and were catching their limit by mid-day. Potawatomi Park was back to being busy after the open water has once again froze in the shipping channel, no reports on how thick the ice is where it was open just over a week ago, but anglers were out in full force. Other busy locations in the Sherwood Point area were Cabot's point with people accessing the back side of Sawyer Harbor and Larson's and High Cliff Road. A few shacks can be seen off of Bullhead Point in the canal by Bay Ship, but no anglers were interviewed. Sugar Creek and Rites Cove were buzzing with activity at the end of the week and many limits were reported here as well. Chaudoir's Dock was steadily busy throughout the week with anglers. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Anglers at Red River were out at the end of the week and reported around 14 inches of ice, good water clarity and slow fishing. Many reported seeing many fish but not many would bite. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Not much snow falling in Marinette county, mostly freezing rain and a little sleet. Cold weather is forecasted so the hard crust that was deteriorating may once again firm up and offer good hiking and snowshoeing opportunities over the weekend. Large flocks of crossbills have been seen feeding in the county forest. The fishing reports have been slow, but a few fish are still being caught. Right now, trails look as though they should be in pretty good shape yet for the weekend but you may want to contact a local club before making the trip north. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Unfortunately, Marinette County did not receive the snowfall everyone was hoping for. The snowmobile trail conditions still remain in good to excellent shape around the county. All Marinette County snowmobile clubs provide a weekly update on current trail conditions. Riders can view the current trail reports by visiting www.marinettecosnowtrails.com. As for sport fishing, anglers were reporting good catches of panfish on High Falls Flowage. As a reminder, anglers fishing on Caldron Falls Flowage should take time to review the new panfish regulations. - Tim Werner, conservation warden, Wausaukee

Oconto County - Decent size perch are being caught on White Potato Lake. Kelly Lake continues to produce northern, largemouth bass, rock bass, perch, bluegill, and small amounts of walleye. Individuals have been having success trapping otters on the Oconto River. Another inch of snow is expected this Saturday.- Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Cross-country ski trails were last groomed on Feb. 1 and no new snowfall since. Trails are in fair condition with a track over a thin, icy base. Trails are groomed for classic skiing only. Using new skis is not recommended as there are a few bare spots throughout the park. Right now the best hiking is on the beach which has minimal ice and a great spot to view the waves and look for eagles. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Weather was sunny, beautiful and 40 on Monday, and 33 with rain/sleet on Tuesday. Streams still mostly have shelf ice and would be very tough to fish for early catch n' release trout fishing. Some ice fishing pressure on area lakes, have heard no real hot reports. Deer and turkey are out feeding all hours of the day, must be a bit tougher to find food with the up to 12-plus inches of snow we have. Weather forecast of 40 degrees and higher for Friday into next week does not bode well for trails in the near future. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Ice conditions in Waupaca and Waushara counties vary. Please use caution when traveling on the ice. Not all boat landings are open on Lake Poygon, but both trucks and recreational vehicles can been seen traveling on the ice. The Wolf River has many open stretches of open water, but anglers are fishing in the New London area and are catching a few walleyes just before dark. Most snowmobile trails are open in Waupaca County but are in poor condition. Please check on the status of the trails before operating. Due to low fur prices, trapping effort has been low, but the few trappers who are participating in the sport, have enjoyed the season and the warmer than normal temperatures. Sturgeon spearers have been out on the ice and looking for a spot that has good water clarity. Currently, a person can see about 8-10 feet in the water. Most spearers have been staying away from the river systems due to the poor water clarity. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Winnebago County - Fishing pressure has varied in and around Little Lake Butte des Morts. Ice Anglers are jigging at the normal locations: Wild Ones, Menasha Lock, Friendship Trail and Butte des Morts Park. They are catching perch, crappie and white bass. Ice conditions vary and we remind folks that the ice is never safe. Activity on the northwest part of Lake Winnebago has been slow due to limited access and warm weather and anglers being cautious of the ice conditions. - Tom Sturdivant, conservation warden, Neenah

Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Season Update - DNR crews were out checking water clarity on Lake Winnebago Feb. 8 and as anticipated clarity has changed since the last readings on Jan. 30. The average readings have dropped about a foot over the last week and a half (average 9.4 feet compared to 10.3 feet on Jan. 30), but there appears to be more consistency within the readings. For the most part better clarity is present along the east and north shores of Lake Winnebago, while poorer clarity is present off Oshkosh and to the south. It's likely that the runoff coming into the lake at the mouth of the Fox River is clouding the water off Oshkosh, where runoff is having less impact to the east and further north. Crews weren't able to get up on the Upriver Lakes, but heard credible reports that clarity hasn't changed much over the last week and a half, remaining at 4-5 feet of visibility on average. - Ryan Koenigs, senior fisheries biologist / Winnebago System sturgeon biologist

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The 1.5k man-made cross-country skate ski lanes were groomed and are in great condition with sugar snow and one patch of ice on Magic Carpet Ride that can be skied around. A track remains on most of the loop and is good condition at full depth in most areas but icy bases. Snowmaking will occur during most of the day Thursday on the nordic playground and possibly the north loop so please use caution in those areas. - Brett Johanen, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - As of Wednesday, Feb. 8, the forest is again undergoing a weather roller coaster, with Sunday through Tuesday temps well above freezing, quite a bit of rain on Tuesday, followed by highs in the 20s today. Both Greenbush and Zillmer ski trails have maintained their snow base through the warmup, but Tuesday's rain has made conditions quite icy. All Zillmer trails were combed this morning, but the classic track has been removed and caution is advised on the downhills. Greenbush was not groomed as of this morning, and conditions are similarly icy. One more day of cold weather, with a forecast of upper 30s and 40s through the weekend. Snowmobile trails in the forest have closed. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate

It rained all day Feb. 7 and froze up overnight, which made everything icy. The classic tracks were glare ice, so I groomed over the top of them this morning. Don't expect a lot from the classic tracks, could not reset the classic tracks. All of the skating lanes on all of the loops were groomed. Someone skate skied on the trails Wednesday afternoon in the rain and made a lot of mush marks and divots that froze overnight. This made the surface nasty and dangerous for skiers. Please don't ski on the trails when they are that soft. I was able to groom some of it out but not all. The skaters will find conditions to be fair, maybe even good all things considered. There are some icy spots to negotiate in places. There are three steep downhills on the yellow that have some deep troughs and ridges from snowplowing that may surprise you if not paying attention. The red/green and yellow have the best conditions. The brown has a lot of icy spots. Enjoy today, tomorrow and maybe Friday morn. before the warmup moves in again. - Reagan Arndt, ranger

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Lafayette County - Area ice has been suffering with the fluctuating temperatures. The turkeys are starting to strut periodically. Snowmobile trails are closed and look to be staying closed for a while. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington

Blue Mound State Park - As of Feb. 8, cross-country ski trails were in good to fair condition. They were groomed and tracked on Feb. 8. The ice has returned, but the majority of the track is in good condition with some ice in / under the track from time to time. Several of the downhills have ice underneath (i.e. - Pleasure Valley, Campground entrance and the Plunge). Outside (left) track in Pleasure Valley is in good condition. Crews did not set the inside track due to ice. Flintrock Trail has some long icy spots on the uphill to campground. - Blue Mound park staff

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Looking to learn more about preparing wild fish? Join DNR staff at Horicon and become a fish cooking master! Whether you have a freezer full of fish from this summer or a string of fresh caught panfish from ice fishing, head to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center for a cooking themed program February 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Join John Motoviloff, author of "Wild Rice Goose and Other Dishes of the Upper Midwest," and "Flyfishers Guide to Wisconsin and Iowa" to learn more about how to cook fish. After an hour-long presentation, participants will have an opportunity to taste some delicious freshwater fish chowder and other dishes provided. This program is free and open to the public, no registration is required. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website at www.horiconmarsh.org. For more information regarding Horicon Marsh education programs, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR educator, at 920-387-7893 or via email at Elizabeth.herzmann@wisconsin.gov. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - With warmer weather and rain, the snowmobile trails have closed in Columbia County. Ice conditions on Lake Wisconsin and other lakes in Columbia County remain good. Some saugers and crappies are being caught on Lake Wisconsin but fishing is fairly slow. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette

After less than a week of open snowmobile trails in Columbia County, they are now closed again due to warm weather and rain. The Wisconsin River was at moderate flood stage this past weekend and has started to come back down. It may go back up some with the rain today and forecasted temps in the middle 40s. Fishing has generally been slow on area lakes. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Dane County - Winter doldrums have arrived here in Dane County. Trappers are reporting that the warm temps are resulting in a lot of raccoon activity - much more than normal for this time of year. As far as birds I'd say that the only birding of interest is in open water where good numbers of waterfowl are overwintering. Perhaps of greatest interest are the 200-plus tundra swans wintering on Lower Mud Lake in McFarland. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

The fishing success on Lake Monona has been hit and miss, with some anglers catching their limit of panfish. A few 30-plus inch northern pike have also been caught on the south side of the lake this week. A few thin spots remain on the Lake Monona ice, so be careful! - John Sinclair, conservation warden, Fitchburg

Janesville DNR Service Center area

Rock County - Remember that the rivers are continuing to rise and the water is moving quickly. Make sure that if you decide to fish the open water that you take the extra precautions. This time of year hypothermia can set in within minutes. There have been anglers starting to fish the Rock River below the Indianford Dam. They have been catching catfish and walleye at this time. Storrs Lake has also been producing nice size bluegills and decent pike. Warmer weather is around the corner! Planning on taking a boat out this spring? If so make sure you are looking over the boating regulations. Also it's a good idea to go over your boat to ensure that nothing is missing from last year. Also check out your life jackets to ensure that they are in good working order. Safety is paramount. - Jacob Cross, conservation warden, Janesville

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Kinnickinnic State Park - Park trails are partially snow covered and icy patches are scattered throughout the system. Snow cover amounts very greatly. Areas that are in the open and exposed to the ever increasing sunlight have little or no snow cover. Shaded areas in the woods have roughly 4 inches of snow. All trails are currently packed, but track is not set on designated ski trails. Ski trails will require a significant amount of snow before groomers will be able to cut in a new set of classic tracks. The Kinnickinnic River is open for early season catch and release trout fishing. It is partially ice covered. The river is currently running at normal levels. Temperatures fluctuate, generally dropping when cooler melt water is incorporated during warmer weather. Hearty early season anglers are finding success with a mixture of streamer and nymph patterns. A Northern Shrike has been seen in the north eastern area of the park. Pheasants are also active and frequently seen. Eric Klumb, ranger

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Trails are not groomed due to snow lacking in some spots. They are packed and okay for snowshoeing. So far, no extra snow in the forecast. We are taking applications for the handicapped accessible cabin. Call the park office to see what dates are available or check out availability soon on the website. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, February 09, 2017

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