Published January 12, 2017 by the Central Office
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).
Recent snows across the northern half of the state and colder temperatures statewide have improved winter recreation conditions in many areas. Snowmobile trails are now open or partially open in roughly the northern half of the state on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report. Cross-country ski trails are also open in about the northern half of the state, with recent snowfalls of up to 10 inches creating some very good ski conditions.
Cold temperatures have firmed up ice conditions statewide, but there are still some highly variable conditions, with reports of vehicles going through the ice in the last week. There have been reports of some walleyes, crappies and northern pike caught on northern and southern lakes and anglers have been targeting panfish on many waters.
Temperatures were cold enough to provide good ice in most of Lake Winnebago, with reports of over a foot of ice. Ice fishermen have been catching some perch with white bass being caught at some of the deeper locations.
Along Lake Michigan the ice formations in and around the mouth of the Peshtigo River resemble dragons teeth and are very difficult to navigate at this time. Anglers report catching panfish, walleye, and some whitefish out of Marinette. A few perch, white fish and pike are being caught at and around the mouth of the Oconto River. In Brown County, anglers at Voyageur Park in De Pere report some success catching walleye, whitefish, and some perch.
Many anglers flocked to the Little Sturgeon Bay area this weekend with mixed success reported for whitefish and perch. There is really thick ice is in some spots from the ice shoves. The Sawyer Harbor area produced good reports for perch and whitefish with some smelt being caught.
The hardier birds such as the juncos, snow buntings, woodpeckers, blue jays, crows and eagles are eating seeds, insects under the tree bark or carrion along the roadsides. The great horned owls continue to hoot and claim territories. Rough-legged hawks continue to be prevalent and sporadic reports of snowy owls are coming in with recent sightings in Dodge, Douglas, Dunn, Outagamie, and Brown counties.
Large winter roosts of American crows numbering up to several thousand crows have been reported in the Viroqua area. As dusk approaches, crows begin gathering in communal roosts, and may be very active and noisy as these social birds take time to settle into the roost for the night.
A section of the Trempealeau River remains open and some migrating trumpeter swans and other waterfowl are still being seen, while open water at Lakeshore State Park is currently home to scaup, goldeneye, buffleheads, mergansers and the occasional long-tailed ducks.
January's full moon occurs tonight and is known as the Wolf Moon. This month's full moon was named for the howling wolf packs that could be heard in the long, cold mid-winter nights.
Many events are taking place this weekend including Bald Eagle Days at Sauk City-Prairie du Sac, full moon hikes at Horicon Marsh on Friday and Devil's Lake on Saturday, a winter snowshoe animal tracking hike at the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine and a candlelight snowshoe hike at Rib Mountain on Saturday. A candlelight ski scheduled for Lake Kegonsa State Park on Saturday has been rescheduled to Feb.11 because trails are currently very icy. For a complete list of events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Northwoods birding is remarkably "average" this year with relatively little open water and modest numbers of woodland and feeder birds. American goldfinches and purple finches are the predominant "winter finches" at feeders while common redpolls, white-winged crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and bohemian waxwings are scattered elsewhere across northern-tier counties. A few new snowy owls were found in the past couple of weeks, though overall they remain relatively scarce statewide this winter. A few counties with recent sightings include Dodge, Douglas, Dunn, Outagamie, and Brown. Bald eagles are concentrating at open water sites with the onset of colder weather. Eagle viewing opportunities commence in Sauk Prairie on January 13 with Bald Eagle Days. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
January 14, 9 a.m. to noon. Cure cabin fever and cut up buckthorn at the springs of Bluff Creek SNA. Warm up your brush cutting arms and legs during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this wetland, springs, and oak opening area in the process. Buckthorn can spread and shade out uncommon plants at this site. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Click for more information.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The 6-plus inches of new snow this week has given the landscape a clean, fresh look. After the new snow, the trails have been groomed and track set. There is a base of around 6 inches, and the snow in the woods is about 12 inches deep. Ski conditions are excellent! Check the Brule Valley Ski Club's calendar for upcoming events at the AfterHours Trail. After we get through today and tomorrow's frigid weather, the forecast is for temperatures in the 20s and even 30s. Next week may bring a January thaw! Some sun is in the forecast as well. These conditions are perfect for getting outside to enjoy the opportunities winter brings. January's full moon occurs tonight and is known as the Wolf Moon. This month's full moon was named for the hungry and howling wolf packs that could be heard in the long, cold mid-winter nights. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. If the skies are clear, the moon shining off the snow should light up the night. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail has gained about 6 to 7 more inches of snow in the last two days and it's still snowing with more in the forecast. The trail will be groomed starting Thursday and again by this weekend. Snowmobile Trail has been rolled and packed and they are out there grooming now with plans to groom again before the weekend. There has been a reroute of the trail from Price County and the regular trail is now open as well. A detour has been rolled which is actually the old trail into Price County. The detour is signed and will stay open one more week. The snow depth is about deep enough that you may want to consider snowshoeing the trails. Some of these trails can be a real challenge. Connors Lake and Lake of the Pines have about 13 inches of ice. There has been some folks out on both lakes fishing and they report they have caught some walleyes, crappies and northerns on Connors and lots of crappies on Lake of the Pines. Ice shacks are being placed in strategic positions on the lakes. People are driving out to their shacks on Lake of the Pines, though I'm not sure about Connors Lake. Mason and Evergreen Lakes are being fished for crappie, walleye and perch. There will be a full "wolf" moon on Thursday Jan. 12. The ground frost is not deep due to the snow depth, though that will slowly change as subzero temperatures will begin again this week. Logging operations on the Forest are going full speed ahead. The deer and elk are conserving their energy and aggressively browsing in logging areas. They really like the occasional clear cut aspen areas for browse. In the sub-zero temperatures the deer and elk are found under the conifer canopy and their activities are reduced. Bear cubs are being born in dens now and other hardy residents such as coyotes, fishers, owls and hawks are on a constant lookout for small mammals and rabbits. The hardier birds such as the juncos, snow buntings, woodpeckers, blue jays, crows and eagles are eating seeds, insects under the tree bark or carrion along the roadsides. The great horned owls begin hooting and claiming territories this month. The weasels have turned to white in color with the black tail tip. They are ferocious little carnivores also called ermine with quick agile movements. They have a slender serpentine-like body that can easily move through small burrows looking for mice and other rodents for their sustenance. They are also very good climbers and enjoy an occasional squirrel snack. The small game season is open till the end of February and ruffed grouse is open till the end of January. The weather forecast for this week indicates Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday will have mostly clear skies. Thursday night the low will be -24 with some warming the rest of the weekend with cold temps in the single digits and by Sunday the high will be near 23 with a low that night of 10. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The forest is finally getting that great snowfall to provide a good base for outdoor recreation! It is a beautiful winter wonderland out there so please get out and enjoy it. Crosse country ski trails, snowshoe trails and snowmobile trails should be in super shape with the 8-plus inches of new snowfall. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Cross-country ski trails are in very good to excellent condition. The forest received about 10-12 inches of mid week snow. Escanaba and McNaughton trails were leveled and tracked Jan. 11 and Madeline and Raven trails were scheduled to be groomed Jan. 12. - Tony Martinez, Trails Coordinator
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Marinette County - The ice formations in and around the mouth of the Peshtigo River resembles dragons teeth and will be very difficult to navigate at this time. There has been no angling pressure at Little River in the past week. Anglers report catching panfish, walleye, and some white fish out of the 6th Street Slip. Live bait and jigging spoons have been the best baits to use. Anglers report the best times to fish are early morning and late afternoon. Harbor Town Slip has also been producing some nice panfish using jigs and wax worms.- Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - No anglers have ventured out from the Geano Beach area as of yet. A few perch, white fish and pike are being caught at and around the mouth of the Oconto River using a variety of jigs and baits. Oconto Park II has been producing some nice perch in the boat launch area using jigs and minnows or wax worms, with early morning being the most productive time to fish. Pike anglers are setting up from Oconto Park II to the Oconto Breakwater Park fishing in 4 to 10 feet of water. Large shiner minnows or dead smelt in the round have been producing some fish. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park report having some success catching walleye, white fish, and some perch fishing straight out from the park. Jigging with live bait and jigging raps have been working well. Anglers report the walleye bite best early morning and late afternoon. Anglers fishing the Long Tail area also report some good catches of perch fishing in 9 feet of water and jigging with minnows. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Door County - After a week of single digit temperatures and nights below zero many anglers were able to get out on the ice this weekend. Many anglers flocked to the Little Sturgeon Bay area this weekend with mixed success reported for whitefish and perch. Those fishing out of Carmody Park reported up to 12 inches of ice in locations, but not in all spots, so take caution when taking to the ice. Some anglers were driving on the ice out of Carmody Park, but most were walking or taking ATV's. Other popular spots around the area were Big Rock Place, Lime Kiln Road, Riley Bay Rd and Wood Lane. Anglers reported rough ice conditions off of Big Rock Place and Lime Kiln road and really thick ice is spots from the ice shoves. The Sawyer Harbor area produced good reports for perch and whitefish with some smelt being caught as well. Many anglers were accessing Sawyer Harbor from Potawatomi Park and Bass Ln, most walking but some using ATVs. Ice thickness greatly varied, so be sure to check on ice conditions before accessing the ice. No anglers were seen at Bullhead point this weekend, as the ice breaker is keeping the shipping channel open for now so the ice is very spotty. No anglers were seen at Oak Ave, as there is a big ice shove right off shore making access to the ice difficult. Ice shacks were seen on the ice off of High Cliff Road, but no anglers were interviewed. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Anglers were reporting rough ice conditions from Lime Kiln Road south but many anglers were seen on the ice from Sugar Creek to Bayshore Park. Please remember to check local ice conditions before taking to the ice as this report does not guarantee ice conditions or thicknesses. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - The snow has been falling and there are now around 13 inches of snow on the ground in Wausaukee and the snow is still falling. Trappers are having some success catching otter and bobcat. Fisherman report nearly 12 inches of ice on some local lakes. Bow season is now closed but small game hunting remains open. Some small groups of crossbills have been seen in northern portions of the county. Crossbills are part of a group of birds referred to as 'winter finches'. This group includes birds like crossbills, grosbeaks, siskins, and redpolls and they can show up in good numbers at feeders when natural food is more scarce. Ski trails at Woods Road and Hemlock Curve units of the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area will again be groomed this week and should be ready for use by Friday. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Snowmobile Trails Oconto Falls and North are open with most trails in Good conditions. Please see the Oconto County Tourism Website and look under Trail Reports for updated information. Most lakes in Oconto County have 8-9 inches of ice since Sunday. Fishing is slow, some perch being caught on Kelly Lake. Kelly Lake, Suring, will have their annual Ice Fishing Derby this weekend till 3:00 PM. Most areas of Oconto County have about a foot of snow on the ground, more in the woods where sun doesn't shine much. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Lakewood
Governor Thompson State Park - Ski are in very good condition. Lots of snow here! Nice firm classic tracks and a very smooth skate lane. Six miles of ski trails are groomed for both classic striding and skate skiing. The bird feeder at the visitor center has been quite the attraction this winter with purple finches, chickadees, goldfinch and sparrows at the feeder. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Ice isn't as good as everyone thinks. Wardens were out on the Bay over the weekend on the airboat and broke through a number of times. A UTV broke through and a truck broke through near Red River Friday. The ice is spotty - there can be 8 inches or more in one spot then go 20 feet and only have 4 inches. It's been cold but not cold long enough. - Mike Neal, conservation warden, Sister Bay
Peninsula State Park - Peninsula recently received a wintery mix of precipitation, followed by freezing temperatures. Ski trails have not been groomed and are in poor condition with icy areas.- Jessica Doell, visitor services associate
Potawatomi State Park - Ski trails were groomed (rolled and tracked) on January 12 and are in good condition. Park at the group campsite area for the best access to the ski trails. Some portions of the trails in open areas do not have much snow, but most of the trails are in good shape. - Lois Hanson, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - About 3 inches of snow fell Monday night and then a lot of freezing rain on top of that. The trails are very thin and frozen hard. Trails have an average 2-4 inch base, but not enough depth to set track until there's more snow. There have been several sightings of eagles soaring along the beach. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy, and red bellied woodpeckers, along with nuthatches and purple finches. Standing on the overlook you can see buffleheads diving in the lake. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Tale of two worlds in central Wisconsin. The Waushara/Waupaca Co. line was pretty much the snow line with 6-9 inches of snow and rain most of the day in Waushara south. Trails should groom out good in Waupaca and be open for the weekend. The snow in Waushara should have the consistency of fully cured cement as it is 10 degrees the morning of Jan. 11. Critters were hunkered down and nowhere to be seen. The only animals seen in the last week were a few geese flying by. There are folks out ice fishing, but have not heard any reports of success or not. Early catch -n- release trout fishing not possible at this time - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Waushara County is currently right on the rain/ice/snow line. We received a good 5 inches of snow, but then rain for a majority of Tuesday. The cold is coming and the water and snow is going to freeze. Only the next couple of days will see for sure if the snow will be good enough to open the snowmobile trails. The cold nights this last week and the continued freezing temperatures at night are firming up the ice and fishermen have been out an about. The initial early ice fish bite has slowed, but some folks are still reporting some successes. Be safe with the weather and always check ice or trail conditions before you go! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Fond du Lac County - Fond du Lac County has had a mix of sub-zero temperatures, snow, rain, wind and temperatures in the 40s giving us currently icy conditions throughout the area. The temperatures were cold enough to provide good ice for ice fishermen with most areas on Lake Winnebago reporting over a foot of ice. Ice fishermen have been catching some perch with white bass being caught at some of the deeper locations. Snowmobile trails are closed with little snow remaining on the trails. So grab your shanty and make sure you have your both cold and wet weather gear with a sturdy set of ice cleats for both on and off the Lake. - William Hankee, conservation warden, Fond du Lac
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The 1 k man-made loop is in excellent condition with a new full depth track set. Please watch out for a few ice patches on the East and North sides of the loop. You can ski around the ice though. Groomer's hope to have the snow piles on Magic Carpet and Tail End skiable by this evening. Trail lights are on until 9 p.m. every night except Sunday - Brett Johanen, ranger
Lakeshore State Park - Lakeshore has over a mile of concrete-paved trails. All trails are currently open. The eastern trail nearest Lake Michigan is regularly cleared of snow. The western trail on the lagoon side is generally not cleared. The Summerfest path is open until next summer's festival season. Ice anglers are having some success with trout and northerns in the south lagoon. Lake Michigan is still relatively warm for this time of year, causing ice conditions to deteriorate rapidly when temperatures rise. Approach open water with extreme care - currents in the lagoons can reduce ice thickness for some distance from open water. Fishing in the open water next to the fishing and boat docks is not allowed. There is danger of electric shock, and lines often tangle in the circulators used to keep the water open. Winter waterfowl are currently the main wildlife attraction. Open water areas under the pedestrian bridge and harbor entrance, as well as the fishing and boat docks are currently home to scaups, goldeneye, buffleheads, mergansers and the occasional long-tailed ducks Just a reminder - dogs are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. Free-running dogs disturb the park's wildlife, as well as many park visitors. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Rain this past week has melted most of the snow cover that was left. Hiking remains a nice way to enjoy the marsh during the winter although watch for icy spots. DNR and USFWS have begun conducting winter prescribed burns of cattails on Horicon Marsh. This will remove the thick duff layer and help stimulate native vegetation in the early spring. Rough-legged Hawks continue to be prevalent and sporadic reports of snowy owls are coming in. Snow buntings, horned larks and Lapland longspurs continue to be seen. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Area lakes now have about 8-12 inches of ice which makes most areas safe to walk on and the use of ATV's, however, there are areas that have springs that still have open water even after this latest cold spell. Area snowmobile trails are still closed as well. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Jefferson County - Most lakes in the County have 8-plus inches of ice. Some ice anglers have been driving cars and trucks onto some lakes. However, most are using ATVs to reach their fishing spot. Anyone thinking of driving a vehicle onto frozen waters to check the ice before venturing onto the ice. There is ice on area rivers and streams. The river ice is not safe and people and their pets are urged to use good judgment near these waterways. Anglers have reported poor fishing on most lakes. There has been limited success on Lake Koshkonong for walleyes and northern pike. The same can be said for Lake Ripley and Red Cedar Lake with most anglers targeting panfish. There are ice fishing tournaments that are open to the public coming up just about every weekend in January and February throughout Jefferson County. Most are posted at area businesses and online. The 18th annual Red Cedar Lake Fisheree is being held Saturday January 14. For additional information call 608-423-3323. All snowmobile trails in Jefferson County remain closed due to lack of snow. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Lake Kegonsa State Park - The candlelight ski that was scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 14 has been rescheduled to Feb.11 because trails are currently very icy. - Sarah Bolser, park manager
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Kinnickinnic State Park - All park trails are snow covered. The green, yellow, orange and purple trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing. Hiking, snowshoeing and pets are not allowed on trails groomed for skiing. The red, blue and brown trails are packed and open for skate skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and pets. The hidden falls trail on the park's south side is un-groomed and open for all methods of foot travel. The Kinnickinnic River is open for early season catch and release trout fishing. It is currently partially ice covered. Ice conditions can change very quickly. The Angler's parking lot does not get plowed, however a portion of the driveway is maintained and is large enough to park several vehicles. The St. Croix river is generally ice covered. Ice depths very greatly. The Kinnickinnic delta and channel are open and rarely freeze solid. The hill from the St. Croix parking lot to the beach is not maintained during the winter. It is still accessible to foot travel and is the most convenient access to the St. Croix River.
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Large winter roosts of American crows have been reported in the Viroqua area, numbering up to several thousand crows. As dusk approaches, crows begin gathering in communal roosts, which are often in clumps of large trees, especially conifers, which offer more protection from wind and low temperatures than bare deciduous trees. Roosts may be very active and noisy as these social birds take time to settle into the roost for the night. The birds are easily frightened and disrupted, and a mob mentality may result in short mass flights from the roost. As darkness descends, the birds settle down and typically remain quiet until dawn when they disperse again. Little is known about why crows form these communal roosts or of the dynamics of the populations involved. It appears that crows will travel considerable distances to a roost, but not every crow in an area will travel to a particular roost every night. There is some indication that some individual crows may go to a roost some nights but not others. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Perrot State Park - The park received about 5 inches of snow. The cross-country ski trails are in very good condition. The skate lane in the campground is packed and groomed. The Bay, Wilbur and upper trails have all been groomed and tracked. Trails open for hiking and snowshoeing include the Riverview trail, Black Walnut, West Brady's, East Brady's, and Perrot Ridge. Maps are available at the park office. A section of the Trempealeau River remains open so you may still see some migrating trumpeter swans and other waterfowl. You may see some of the eagles who stay in the area in winter. - Lois Larson, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - The Black River Falls area received approximately 4 to 6 inches of snow on Tuesday, Jan. 10. All trails are open and in good condition. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the low to mid 20s with a chance of snow Sunday night. Cross-Country ski trails were packed and tracked on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Trails are in good condition. Snowshoers can enjoy the one mile and 0.6 mile trails at the Smrekar parking lot, the three mile trail that connects Pigeon Creek to Smrekar Road or the 1.5 mile loop around Castle Mound. Snowshoers are allowed anywhere on the state forest that is not a groomed trail. ATV, UTV and snowmobile trails are open. Trails are listed in good condition. New this year--UTVs will be allowed on winter ATV trails. They will not be allowed on designated snowmobile only trails or any other trail that was previously closed to UTV use. Jackson County Forestry and Parks maintains and grooms all of the state forest's snowmobile and winter ATV trails. Grooming updates are posted on the Jackson County [exit DNR] website. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Fresh snow has made for excellent cross country skiing conditions at Tower Ridge in the Town of Seymour. Now is a great time to explore the forest and fields while noting tracks left by various wildlife species. Snowmobile trails are open in all of Eau Claire County - avoid alcohol use and excess speed - live to ride another day. Ice anglers on Lake Altoona are reporting about 12 inches of ice - the minimum ice depth recommended for truck travel. Coyote hunters and trappers are finding no shortage of great hunting experiences. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - The Menomonie area got close to 10 inches of new snow this week. Volunteers will be out the rest of this week getting the cross country ski trails groomed at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area and at the Red Cedar State Trail. Expect excellent conditions for the weekend. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - The Menomonie area got close to 10 inches of new snow this week. Volunteers will be out the rest of this week getting the cross country ski trails groomed at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area and at the Red Cedar State Trail. Expect excellent conditions for the weekend. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Wood County - The Pittsville are received 8 inches of heavy, wet snow since earlier Tuesday morning. Breaking tree limbs are a hazard to anyone using trails, or even driving through wooded areas. - Bob Hess, conservation biologist, Wisconsin Rapids
Buckhorn State Park - Ski trails are in poor condition since we have not received any more snow. Trails will be regroomed when we have enough snow.People have been walking out to ice fish from the park. Remember, park staff do not monitor ice conditions - Heather Wolf, park manager