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Outdoor Report

Published February 28, 2019 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 pattern of heavy snowfall continued over much of the state this week, with some areas of northern and central Wisconsin receiving repeated snowfalls off up to a foot. The south hasn't fared as well, with most of the precipitation that fell last weekend in the form of rain. That was followed by freezing temperatures that left of thick crust of ice on top of what snow remains. A mid-week ice storm also coated central Wisconsin with a thick layer of ice.

The rain closed most snowmobile trails in the southern most tier of counties but trails through central and northern Wisconsin remain open and in good to excellent condition, with some reporting best conditions of the winter so far on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Cross country ski trail conditions are also good to excellent through much of central and northern Wisconsin, including the best conditions of the year at the five Door County state parks.

Cross-country ski trails are in good to excellent condition in Door County's five state parks, including these at Potawatomi. - Photo credit: DNR
Cross-country ski trails are in good to excellent condition in Door County's five state parks, including these at Potawatomi.Photo credit: DNR

With the recent heavy snow and high winds fishing pressure has varied from heavy to non-existent. Truck and ATV travel on the ice has been difficult away from the plowed roads on the ice with lots of stuck vehicles being reported. Lots of anglers spent last week trying to get their permanent shacks off the ice if possible. Anglers are reminded that permanent ice shacks must be off the ice by March 3 south of Highway 64 and March 17 north of 64.

Fishing on the Wolf River has been a popular activity and folks are having luck catching smaller northern pike and few walleyes. Fox River anglers fishing out of Fox Point boat landing report catching walleyes and whitefish. Heavy fishing pressure was observed along the west shore of Green Bay over the weekend with anglers reporting catching a few bigger perch and the stray whitefish and walleye.

The 2019 Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season is now in the books. The season ran the entire 16 days, as the harvest cap went unmet for the fourth straight year. Spearers registered at total of 786 fish on Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan combined. The largest fish harvested on the season's final day was 111.7 pounds, 74-inches.

Snowshoes are a must for trekking out into the woods. Some otter and beaver trappers are still active and have reported the deep soft snow seems to not allow otters to travel "over land" as much and the otters spend more time in the streams and rivers.

There have been regular sightings of numerous turkeys and deer out on roadways throughout the day exploring and taking a break from the deep snow in the woods. Coyotes and bobcat are on the move. Signs of spring will continue to give us hope even when winter may still have some March snow up its sleeve. Snowshoe hare coats have begun to turn brown and river otters are giving birth. There have been reports of taps being placed on in the sugarbush in anticipated of the spring sap run.

Northern shrikes and sharp shinned hawks are predating on the concentrations of birds at area feeders after this last blizzard. Flocks of redpolls and evening grosbeaks are treating area folks who are feeding the birds at this time of the year. And the first sandhill cranes have returned to the southeast part of the state.

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Statewide Birding Report

Sandhill Cranes began their return to southeast quarter of state on February 22. This graphic shows eBird sightings over the past week or so. - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

 - Photo credit: DNR
Photo credit: DNR

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties

Click on the links below for highlighted programs this weekend or click on Get Outdoors," for a complete listing of events.
Saturday, March 2, 2019

For all events search Get Outdoors

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

March 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Blue River Sand Barrens: Join the new volunteer effort to care for Blue River Sand Barrens State Natural Area! We are teaming up with The Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) to care for this site. Blue River Sands is known for its dry prairie (including cactus) and globally rare oak barrens. DNR crews have been working to clear brush and conduct burns. Volunteers will continue this effort by cutting and burning (if there is snow) brush. This will benefit understory plants.

March 8, 9 a.m.-noon: Ridgeway Pine Relict - Join in! Ridgeway is known for its scenic pine relicts that have northern plant species. Help care for this site by removing invasive plants and encouraging native plants at our second Friday workdays. Activities during winter focus on brush cutting, treating, and burning. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program 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 - We have been treated to some sunny skies in between our snow days. The days are longer and even though the temperatures are still chilly the sun is giving off welcomed warmth. Deer have been out on the roadways throughout the day exploring and taking a break from the deep snow in the woods. Signs of spring will continue to give us hope even when winter may still have some March snow up its sleeve. Cross-country ski trails were groomed Feb. 27. The trails have 5 inches of fresh snow accumulation and are in excellent condition. There is a 16 inch base and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground. - Matthew Leischer, ranger

Pattison State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked last Saturday and are in excellent shape. We have about 12 inches of base and 28 inches of snow in the woods. All tracks are at full depth. The trails will be groomed again on Friday. Pattison State Parks Winterfest event was very successful this year! We had over 170 people attending this years event, and everyone had a great time. The sledding hill was very popular as well as our candlelight ski/hiking trail. Many thanks go out to the volunteers from the Friends of Pattison and Amnicon Parks that help put this event on. - Gervase Thompson, ranger

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Iron County - Outdoor activities are currently aligned to where access is present. Fisherman are struggling to get out on the ice and when they do, they are getting flooded with water. If you're patient enough go ice fishing in these conditions, the recommendation is to keep snow packed down around your holes and wear tall rubber boots or waders. Back-country skiers and snowshoers are experiencing HIIT workouts as they battle 35-40 inches of snow countywide. Contrary to the woes of fisherman and backwoods explorers, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers are enjoying themselves as the snow continues to pile and the weather warms. - Jenna Kosnicki, wildlife biologist, Mercer

Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area - Crews have been out trying to make a skiable trail after the major weekend snow storm. We have managed to groom and track the Wolf and Moose trail out to the bridge and also the Homestead classical trail. All other trails will get groomed as soon as we can. We need to pack the deep drifts with a snowmobile before we can get the groomer over them. Bear with us; we hope to be 100 percent open again shortly. What is opened is in Beautiful condition but the deck is still a little soft. See you on the trail. - Brett Bockhop, parks and recreation specialist

Copper Falls State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Wednesday, February 27 and are in excellent condition. Daniel Yankowiak, property manager

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The Grantsburg Area has gotten a significant amount of snow within the last couple of weeks, so there are large banks along the roads and a lot of snow covering the ice on the flowages. Bird activity has been low this winter, and we have not seen some species that we usually do. Highlights for the week were common redpoll and snow bunting. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - Snowmobile trails are groomed and in good shape. We have 26-plus inches of snow, fluctuating due to the high winds of last Sunday, so make sure you stay on the trails and for safety carry a collapsible shovel. The Flambeau Hills Ski Trail has been groomed for skate and classic cross country skiing on Tuesday, Feb. 26 and the plan is to have it groomed again by the end of Friday March 1, barring equipment failure. Friday forecast predicts more snow. There is 20-plus inches of ice on the lakes and approximately 26 inches of snow cover after the last snowfall and we're expected to receive up to 3 more inches Friday and Friday night. This year's fawns have puffed cheeks and body conditions are deteriorating. March sun will harden and crust the snow. Snowshoe hare coats begin to turn brown; male red-winged blackbirds return; river otters give birth; grouse start drumming; and the maple sap begins to flow. The weather forecast for the end calls for snow Friday with a high of 24, and a low of 6. Saturday, partly sunny, with a high of 20 and a low of -13. Sunday, mostly sunny, with a high of 7 and a low of -15. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - A heavy blanket of snow has its grips on the state forest. Snow shoes are a must for trekking out into the woods. Northern shrikes and Sharp shinned hawks are predating on the concentrations of birds at area feeders after this last blizzard. Flocks of Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks are treating area folks who are feeding the birds at this time of the year. Coyotes and bobcat are on the move, and ermine are being spotted every now and then if one is patient. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

Cross-country ski trails are in good condition. All Escanaba loops were leveled and tracked except the Mystery Lake by pass section. Tracks are in good to very good condition. Hard packed base up to 24 inches with around 48 inches of snow in February. All Raven loops have been tracked. Some low hanging pine branches loaded with snow. The McNaughton classic loops are in great condition with very little debris. The skater's loop is in good condition. The deck is a little soft but should firm up overnight to make for great conditions. The skater's loop is only open out to the warming shelter. There are a few low hanging branches to watch out for but nothing major. - Dan Jacoby and Tony Martinez, recreation specialists; Beth Feind and Joe Kraetke, rangers

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

With the recent heavy snow and high winds fishing pressure has varied from heavy to non-existent depending on the day and the weather. Truck and ATV travel on the ice has been difficult away from the plowed roads on the ice with lots of stuck vehicles being reported. Snowmobile travel has been the recommendation from anglers this week. Lots of anglers spent last week trying to get their permanent shacks off the ice if possible. Anglers are reminded that permanent ice shacks must be off the ice by the first Sunday following March 12.

Marinette County - Menominee River anglers fishing off sixth street slip report slow action for perch and northern.

Oconto County - Heavy fishing pressure was observed at Geano Beach over the weekend. Angler report catching a few bigger perch and the stray whitefish away from the reefs. Tip-ups also catching a few northern as well. Whitefish and a few walleye are still being caught off the reef for anglers using jigging raps tipped with a minnow head or waxy. Anglers report slow fishing for whitefish and northern off the Oconto breakwater. Fishermen with cameras report seeing a few whitefish on camera but they were not interested in biting. Anglers fishing all day of the end of the breakwater with tip-ups reported catching only one northern. Reports of good catches of keeper perch are coming out of Oconto Park 1. Using minnows and jigs is the ticket. Angler fishing the rock piles report catching decent catches of whitefish with a few limits being caught as well. Oconto Park 2 anglers report catching numerous perch in the 5-6 inches range with very few keepers caught. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Fox River anglers fishing out of Fox Point boat landing report catching walleyes and whitefish in the area of the 172 bridge. The reports seem to average about a fish an hour for anglers fishing throughout the day. Anglers using jigging raps and jigs tipped with minnows seeing the most action, while a few whitefish and walleye were caught on jigs with waxies. Fish caught ranged in size from 8 inches up to 24 inches. Voyageurs Park anglers report slower fishing with a few walleye and whitefish caught using the same tactics as downriver anglers. Anglers off of Sunset Beach Lane report catching a few keeper perch and northern. Anglers are still catching decent numbers of perch of the Hook Road access. Some sorting through smaller fish being reported as well. Rabbit Hunters interviewed on the state land along Hook Road reported seeing lots of rabbit tracks but were not successful in bagging any. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Poor weather and high winds may have influenced this weekend's fishing pressure. Two anglers were observed at the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club launch Saturday. One had luck landing a northern while the other angler had yet to catch anything at the end of the observation. Anglers fishing Little Sturgeon Bay caught smaller whitefish. One angler reported having success landing 10 inch walleye during the week but little luck with anything larger.- Aeden White, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Governor Thompson State Park - Cross-country ski trails were tracked on Wednesday, February 27 and are in excellent condition. There is a little debris in the pines. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Door County - There have been regular sightings of numerous turkeys throughout southern Door County using the plowed town roads as an alternative to traveling through the ever-increasing snow depth. In fields and orchards where turkeys have managed to scratch through snow, in several instances, ravens have been observed occupying the bowl-shaped openings (unknown if this is play or food searching behavior). All county snowmobile trails are open and listed in excellent condition as of Feb. 26 with more expected snow (approximately 5 inches on Feb. 27.) - Christopher Kratcha, conservation warden, Sturgeon Bay

Newport State Park - With 10 inches of new, powdery snow on top of a 20 inch base, cross-country ski trails are in excellent shape. Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Wednesday, Feb. 27. A night of cold temps has settled the powdery snow so conditions are excellent. - Beth Bartoli, naturalist

Peninsula State Park - Cross-country ski trails were tracked on Wednesday, February 27 and are in good condition. - Jessica Doell, visitor services associate

Potawatomi State Park - 5 inches of snow fell on Wednesday and winter trails are in good condition for this weekend. Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and are in good condition. Campground roads are narrow right now due to snowbanks, with only smaller single camping units recommended at this time. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - All of the ski trails have been groomed and track set after some very windy conditions yesterday. A lot of blowing snow with about 3 inches of new snow. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Some otter and beaver trappers are still active and have reported the deep soft snow keeps trapping effectively. Trappers feel the deep snow do not allow otters to travel "over land" as much and the otters spend more time in the streams and rivers. Battle on Bago was well represented with thousands of anglers trying their luck. Vehicle travel was difficult due to deep snow, but there were a few plowed roads before the wind storm. Many of these vehicle travel ways have since been blown in with snow. It is a great time to enjoy snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Try to find public lands that you haven't visited and go exploring. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

It was zero degrees Thursday morning. There is 20-24 inches inches of snowpack throughout central Wisconsin. Snowmobile trails should be stellar condition if they can keep up with grooming. Wildlife really hunkered down and not moving much. Only deer movement I have seen is on roads, not good for deer or motorists. Little to no ice fishing pressure as there is so much snow on the ice it is very tough to get around. The locals are begging for spring! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - While the snow has finished from this last storm in Waushara County, more is on the way for the beginning of the weekend followed by bitter cold. The snowmobile trails are open, but due to wind and rain from the weekend they are in fair conditions with drifts and icy spots so ride with caution! The ice on most lakes has improved, some lakes with aerators in use still have some spots that are not great so please be careful and believe the signs that say unstable ice or open water. The woods look beautiful after this last light fluffy snow, so if you are a photographer or one to enjoy seeing snow on branches in the woods it might be a great time for you to take a hike along the Ice Age Trail or through any of our state properties in the county. The open streams offer some great views! The one benefit we have seeing the end of February is that there is more and more daylight for us to enjoy the chilly and snowy outdoors. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Hartman Creek State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Pope Lake trial section was groomed and is in fair condition. There is currently small debris i.e. pine needles and small branches in the tracks due to the high winds we received this week. The Oak Ridge Trails were packed and will be tracked on Thursday. - Jarrod Kehring, property manager

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Lake Winnebago System

The 2019 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System is now in the books. There were 23 fish harvested today bringing the season total to 479 fish. The clear water along the north shore made areas 1 and 2 the places to be during this season. This was evident by Stockbridge Harbor and Waverly Beach being the busiest registration stations this season. The largest fish harvested on the season's final day was 111.7 pounds (74.0 inches) and registered at Wendt's by Kraig Kelliher of Hartford . That name may sound familiar as this is the 2nd time in 3 seasons that Kraig has spearerd a fish 100 pounds or larger. In fact, Kraig and his friend Doug Endlich were featured on the front page of the 2018 sturgeon spearing regulation pamphlet holding Kraig's 140.5 pound (76.0 inches) sturgeon that he harvested during the 2017 spearing season. Deja vue today as Kraig speared another 100 pound fish, but this time Doug also speared roughly a 66 inches fish on the same day.

- Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

Outagamie County - Recent snow has provided for good conditions on most snowmobile trails in Outagamie County. Zones 1-3 and 5-7 are currently open as of Feb. 27. The deep snow also provides a great opportunity for people to get out snowshoeing. Fishing on the Wolf River has been a popular activity and folks are having luck catching smaller northern pike on jigging spoons tipped with minnows and tipups with a shiner. A few walleyes are being caught as well. - Zack Seitz, conservation warden - Shiocton

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Southeast Region

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - Lapham Peak received less than an inch of snow overnight Tuesday. The man-made loop will be groomed nightly this week. There is a classical track set. There is a large ice patch at the bottom of magic carpet. If skiers stay to the left, they can ski around it. The ice is marked with cones. There is no skiing off of the man-made loop. Trail lights will be on until 9pm Monday through Saturday. - Brian Jacquette, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Even though only an inch of snow fell overnight on Feb. 26, McMiller cross-country ski trails had enough base present to begin reworking the skating lanes. Sugar is flowing on the green, white, and orange loops, but beware of glare ice patches on red, blue, and purple. the track held up very well and has approximately 1 inch of snow that filled the base of it. Be aware that there is a lot of forest debris on the trails. The system will be groomed again Friday night. The groomers were churning up the skating lanes on the Nordic trails and intend to leave the track as it was set last week. - Roy Kenast, ranger

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Zillmer cross-country ski trails were groomed for skate and classic cross-country on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The forest got about 2 inches of fluffy snow Tuesday night. It was just enough to cover up most of the debris on the trails. Very good conditions throughout all loops. May still have a few icy patches to contend with. Should be even better tomorrow after the snow has time to set up and bind to the hard pack underneath. - Reagan Arndt, ranger

Kohler-Andrae State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed for classic skiing on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and were in good condition. - Chanice Pitzke, ranger

Point Beach State Forest - Cross-country ski trails were tracked on Thursday, February 28, after the forest received 7 inches of new fluffy snow and are in good condition. Guy Willman, property manager

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South Central Region

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Interested in birdhouses, but don't know where to begin? Wondering what you can do to help birds and bats? Head to the Horicon Mash Education & Visitor Center on Saturday, March 2 to bolster your nesting knowledge. Speakers will discuss popular nest boxes, such as bluebirds and wood ducks, as well as new topics, like bats and raptors. Live raptors will be sure to engage participants of all ages! Come for a specific topic or stay for all four. Whatever you choose, these presentations will cover many topics to "brood" about for this upcoming nest season! Live, Cavity Nesting Raptors: Learn about the perfect setup for drawing nesting raptors and see some live birds up close! Presented by Renee Wahlen, Executive Director of Marsh Haven Nature Center. 9 a.m. Wood Ducks: Discover the best ways to make your nest boxes pro-duck-tive! Presented by Jeff Bahls, President of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club. 10 a.m.: Bats: Uncover how you can help bats by separating the good boxes from the bad! Presented by Erinn Kronebusch, DNR Assistant Wildlife Educator. 11 a.m. Bluebirds: Identify prime bluebird real estate and how to attract mating pairs, too! Presented by Pat Ready, President of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. Noon. If you prefer to purchase your bluebird or wood duck boxes on site, the Friends of the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will provide kits and fully assembled boxes for sale. Donuts and coffee will also be available for purchase during the day. Get involved or learn more in the classrooms, where there will be displays from local bird conservation organizations: Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh Bird Club, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Wood Duck Society, Horicon NWR, and Wisconsin DNR. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Blue Mound State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked Feb. 26. Snow is very dry and granular. Staff picked up 1000s of sticks and branches, but expect more sticks and leaf debris on the trail surface. Trees and branches are hanging low because they are covered in ice. John Minix Trail has one ice flow / stream crossing that is marked by a safety cone. Pleasure Valley Trail has two ice flow sections as well. Skate Skiing is permitted in the Campground loops and upper picnic area only. - Kevin Swenson, park manager

Governor Dodge State Park - Cross-country ski trails were tracked on Friday, Feb. 22 and are in fair condition. Snow base of 5-7 inches. - Eric Stopper, park manager

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Mirror Lake State Park -Cross-country ski trails have been re-worked and freshly groomed and new track set Feb. 27 after the 1-2 inches of new snow. Expect debris (leaf litter and twigs) trails are in good condition with a 4-6 inch base. - Becky Green, park manager

Governor Nelson State Park - Recent warm temperatures and rain followed by refreezing has left the cross-country ski trails very icy. - Rene Lee - park manager

Lake Kegonsa State Park -Cross-country ski trails were groomed on Monday, Feb. 25. Crews were able to break through the ice and re-groom after the weekend's warm temperatures and rain; however the base is thin and some areas are icy. We were not able to track. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Kinnickinnic State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in poor condition. Multiuse trails have been packed with the snowmobile. Ski trails have been run with the snowmobile to break up the drifts but have not been groomed. - Eric Klumb, ranger

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Perrot State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed for skate and tracked for classic cross-country skiing on Wednesday, February 27 and are in excellent condition. The Bay and Wilber trails have been groomed and tracked. The campground skate lane is groomed. Due to heavy snow and major drifting we are unable to get to the upper trails so Prairie View and Cedar Glade have not even been packed. - Lois Larson, park manager

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - All cross-country ski trails, except Norway Pine and Wildcat, were packed and tracked February 27. Trails are in good condition. There is some debris in places as well as low hanging branches due to the heavy snow. The Norway Pine and Wildcat trails will be groomed either Thursday or Friday.- Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Lake Wissota State Park - Cross-country ski trails condition were groomed on Thursday, Feb. 28 and were in excellent condition. We plan to groom again March 1 or 2 after the next round of snow.- Nathan Fries, ranger

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Winds off the lake have been drifting and closing off the road past the boat launch. Barrens trail, Glacial Lake, Timber Trail, and path from sites 26-29 through the first loop of campground will be packed for snowshoeing and tracked on one side for classic skiing after the next round of snow. Central Sands trail is hiking/snowshoeing only due to snow drifts off the lake onto the trail. Snowshoes are available to check out for free at the park office. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contact information

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(608) 267-2773