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You read all about Wisconsin's extensive, nationally recognized trail system in the August 2002 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources. Now – while the maples, oaks, birches and tamaracks are resplendent in their autumn dress and the weather is about as genial as it is likely to be for the next five months – is a fine time to put a little bit of sole down on your favorite state park, state forest, or county trail. You'll be rewarded with charming vistas, fresh crisp air, and quiet calm broken only by squirrels rustling through fallen leaves or the swoosh of wing beats as geese fly by.
While you're lacing up those hiking boots or searching for that trusty staff, remember 2002 is the "Year of the Trails." Special events will continue around the state until the end of the year. Here are a few to tempt you:
Darkness descends all around and forest spirits abound on Halloween hikes guaranteed to thrill young and old alike. The Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit, Campbellsport, hosts a Halloween Nature Hike on Friday, October 18; groups leave every six minutes for a 50-minute hike. Meet at the Long Lake Recreational Area from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (920) 533-8322. On Saturday, October 26, you'll have three opportunities to haunt the forest shadows: Point your pitchfork toward Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo, where nighttime hikes leave the north shore area of the park from 6-9 p.m. After the walk, warm your tootsies around a big blazing fire – what else did you expect at Devil's Lake? (608) 356-8301. Kids can walk a haunted trail and add to their Halloween candy stash during the Fall Family Fun Day at the Navarino Wildlife Area, Shawano County. Meet at the Navarino Nature Center from 7 to 9 p.m. (715) 758-6999. Spirits of Wyalusing State Park in Bagley will be out and about, ready to guide you through the park's history along a candle and jack-o'-lantern lit trail. Meet at the Peterson shelter at 7 p.m. (608) 996-2261.
Who says you can't walk and pick up sticks at the same time? A great way to celebrate the Year of the Trails is to get out there and clear one. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 2, Pattison State Park in Superior holds a Hike for Health along Big Manitou Falls Trail. Get some exercise and help clean up the trail; there will be an appreciation ceremony for all participants after the hike. (715) 399-3111. The Walworth Chapter of the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation would welcome your assistance with light trail maintenance in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit in Eagle on Saturday, November 16. The work usually includes cutting down invading brush, establishing erosion controls, and posting signs. Call (262) 473-4973 for the exact time and location.
Join Wisconsin State Parks Director Sue Black in Chippewa Falls for the Christmas Trails Parade on Saturday, December 7. Illuminated by thousands of lights and decked out in holiday finery, the city welcomes visitors near and far to celebrate the season and Wisconsin's fine network of trails. (715) 723-7858.
Mark the end of the Year of the Trails by taking a Winter Solstice Night Hike, December 21, at the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit, Cambellsport. (920) 533-8322. In the dark woods, you'll meet the other animals that are also awake and braving the cold of a winter night.
Mark your calendar for the 2002 Wild Bird, Wildlife & Backyard Habitat Expo, November 1-3 at the Washington County Fair Park in West Bend. This big event features seminars on creating habitat and attracting birds and wildlife, wildlife photography, birds of prey, exhibit and vendor booths, and much more.