December 30, 2014
MADISON - If Mother Nature cooperates, there will be more than 30 candlelight events at Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and nature centers this winter.
Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight have become some of the most popular winter events at state park properties, with some events attracting more than a thousand visitors. Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others are just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Following some early cold and snowy weather, a mild December has much of Wisconsin moving into January with limited snow on the ground. Many of the scheduled events will proceed as hikes if there is not enough snow for skiing or snowshoeing, but some could be cancelled -- especially if conditions are icy - so it is always best to call ahead and confirm an event will be held.
Candlelight events kick of Jan. 3, 2015 with ski, hikes or snowshoes scheduled for Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks. Both parks plan to hold hikes if there is not snow for skiing or snowshoeing. Events run through mid-February.
People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keywords "get outdoors" and clicking on the "type" button and then checking only the "candlelight" box under listed activities. For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park."
Many of the events held throughout the winter include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Blue Mound State Park Candlelight ski, hike or snowshoe - Ski one trail, hike or snowshoe another! Ski 1 or 2 mile groomed candlelit loops and/ or snowshoe or hike 3/4 mile candlelit loop. Guided hikes at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. by a park naturalist. If there is not enough snow for skiing, there will be a 1-mile candlelit trail for hiking. Leashed pets allowed on the hike/snowshoe loop only. Sorry, no pets on ski trails. Stay warm in the Friends Shelter or by the bonfire! Free hot drinks, marshmallows and roasting sticks provided by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. Brats, chili, hot dogs and baked goods for sale by "Kathy's Kause" fundraiser for the M.S. Society. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 608-437-5711
Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoes - An easy 1 mile trail lit for skiers and another easy 1 mile trail lit skiers, hikers & snowshoers. The Friends of Mirror Lake will have the bonfires roaring and refreshments for sale for a fundraiser for the park. Meet at the Winter Recreation Area (a.k.a. Beach/picnic area). 6-8 p.m. 608-254-2333
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Wildcat Mountain State Park Candlelight Ski cancelled due to lack of snow. 608-337-4775
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Easy 2 mile loop with shortcuts available. Heated Trecker Lodge warming shelter with wood burning fireplace, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, popcorn, desert items, bonfire, charcoal grill for those who wish to picnic and lighted ice skating pond (TBD based on ice conditions). Meet at the Homestead Hollow parking lot. 5:30-9 p.m. 262-646-3025
Copper Culture State Park Candlelight Hike - Rescheduled to February 28.
Kohler-Andrae State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike cancelled. 920-451-4080
Lake Kegonsa State Park Candlelight Ski - Rescheduled to February 14. 6-9 p.m. 608-873-9695
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center 5th Annual Horicon Candlelight Hike/Snowshoe - Hiking and snowshoeing by candlelight, a roaring bonfire, roasted marshmallows and warm refreshments. The Education Center will be open for people to warm up, view the 20 minute "Horicon Marsh Story," visit the gift shop, or have the kids do a fun craft to bring home! The Northern Cross Science Foundation astronomers will be on site to help you view the night sky through telescopes or to talk about the stars if it is cloudy. Members of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club will be on the trail conducting short owl talks and calling for owls. Learn about Wisconsin's mammals on the short "Family Loop" trail! Warm beverages and light snacks will be available inside the center as well as a bake sale. Hot chocolate will also be available outside in the new picnic shelter. Snowshoes will be available to the public on a first come first serve basis at no charge. Snowshoers may have to wait until a pair is turned in. There must be at least 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground to loan out snowshoes. Leashed pets are allowed on the trails but not in the building. Admission to the event is free; however, please consider bringing a non-perishable food item or hats/gloves/mittens for our food drive and mitten campaign to be donated to local schools and local food pantries. A winter themed basket will also be raffled off to help support the Friends group. The event is Sponsored and hosted by the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. 6-9 p.m. 920-387-7890
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Hartman Creek State Park Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike and Snowshoe Event - Candles will alight 1.3 miles of the Pope Lake ski trail and 1 mile of the upper and lower dike trail of for hikers and snowshoers. The friends of Hartman Creek will again provide free cookies and treats along with coffee, hot chocolate and cider at the park's enclosed (Hartman Lake) shelter. Ski and snowshoe rentals will be available at the event. 5-8 p.m. 715-258-2372
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit Candlelight Ski & Hike - The purple loop at the Nordic Trailhead will be a lighted winter wonderland. Cozy up by the fire or warm up inside the warming shelter. 6-9 p.m. 262-594-6200
Governor Dodge State Park 16th Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Ski, walk, or snowshoe a trail lit with glowing candlelight. Warm up by the bonfire after enjoying the trail. Hot beverages will be available. Weather and snow conditions determine trail location. Please, no pets. Sponsored by the Friends of Governor Dodge. 6-9 p.m. 608-935-2315
Friday, January 30, 2015
Red Cedar State Trail Annual Candlelight Ski Event - Activities start at Depot Visitor Center area, off highway 29, west side of Menomonie. Trail fee is waived for Friday night ski; warming fire, prize drawing and hot chocolate available. 6-9 p.m. 715-232-1242
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Lake Wissota State Park Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe/Hike - Lighted ski, snowshoe and walking trails will be available as well as refreshments. Call 715-967-2800 to reserve a pair of snowshoes for this event. Event sponsored by Friends of Lake Wissota State Park. 5-8 p.m. 715-967-2800
Whitefish Dunes State Park Winter Candlelight Event - Ski, hike or snowshoe candlelight trails at the park. Ski among the forested dunes for 1.5 miles. Hike or snowshoe a 1.5 mile loop. Warm up in the shelter building with hot beverage and fresh popcorn. Visit the nature center for delicious baked goods, new exhibits or purchase a book. Limited number of snowshoes will be available (first-come-first serve basis). Sponsored by the Friends of Whitefish Dunes. 5-8 p.m. 920-823-2400
Big Foot Beach State Park Candlelight Hike & Owl program - Enjoy an evening hike, snowshoe, or ski along a 0.9 mile trail lit by the flickering light of candles. Also, there will be an owl program with Naturalist Christee Reince starting at 6 p.m. There will be a bonfire and S'more kits will be available for purchase. Meet at the Shelter. 6-8 p.m. 262-248-2528
Black River State Forest Candlelight Ski - A 1.5 mile ski trail and a 1 mile snowshoe/hike trail will be lit with candle luminaries. Warm up around a large bonfire or in the heated shelter. Hot chocolate and hot dogs will be available for purchase. Meet at the Smrekar shelter located 4 miles east of Millston off County Road O. Sponsored by the Black River Forest Trail Foundation. 6-9 p.m. 715-284-4103
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Peninsula State Park Candlelight Ski or Hike - Ski or hike a 1-mile candlelit trail through forest and meadow. Warming fire with refreshments provided at the shelter. Pets are not allowed at the event. Enter at Highland Road., 1 mile north of Fish Creek at Hwy. 42 and County Road A. Park in Lot 5. Event will be cancelled if weather is severe. 5:30-8 p.m. 920-868-3258
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit Candlelight Ski/Hike - Cross-country ski or hike in the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit by candlelight. The trail is perfect for novice skiers with no steep hills or sharp turns. The Zillmer shelter building will be lit and heated. Join fellow hikers and skiers at the bonfire for hot drinks and snacks provided by the Friends of the Kettle Moraine. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-533-8322
Blue Mound State Park Candlelight ski, snowshoe or hike - Ski 1 or 2 mile groomed candlelit loops and/ or snowshoe or hike 3/4 mile candlelit loop. Guided hikes at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. by a park naturalist. Leashed pets allowed on the hike/snowshoe loop only. Stay warm in the Friends Shelter or by the bonfire! Free hot drinks, marshmallows and roasting sticks provided by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. Brats, chili, hot dogs and baked goods for sale by "Kathy's Kause" fundraiser for the M.S. Society.5:30-8:30 p.m.
High Cliff State Park Candlelight Ski/Hike - The Forest Management Trail is torch-lit for skiers and hikers alike. Stop by the bonfire to warm up along the trail and visit the Friends of High Cliff concessions stand for some hot beverages and snacks. Pets not allowed for this event. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-989-1106
Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoes - An easy 1-mile trail lit for skiers and another easy 1-mile trail lit skiers, hikers & snowshoers. The Friends of Mirror Lake will have the bonfires roaring and refreshments for sale for a fundraiser for the park. Winter Recreation Area (a.k.a. Beach/picnic area). 6-8 p.m. 608-254-2333
Harrington Beach State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - Tiki torch lit hike around Quarry lake. Skis, hiking or snowshoes allowed. Food and Beverages will be offered by the Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. 6-9 p.m. 262-285-3015
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit - Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe Event - Easy 2-mile loop with shortcuts available. Heated Trecker Lodge warming shelter with wood burning fireplace, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, popcorn, desert items, bonfire, charcoal grill for those who wish to picnic and lighted ice skating pond (TBD based on ice conditions). Meet at the Homestead Hollow parking lot. 6-9 p.m. 262-646-3025
Flambeau River State Forest 23rd Annual Candlelight Ski - A 1.8-kilometer loop of trail will be groomed, tracked and lit with more than 600 candles. The trail is wide enough for diagonal striders and skate skiers and winds through the heart of the forest. Hiking and snowshoeing are also permitted during this event. Picnic tables and a large barbecue grill will be available near the trail head for persons who wish to cook their food, and hot dogs, chili and spiced tea will be provided. Large warming fires will also be built and maintained throughout the night 6-9 p.m. 715-332-5271
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Lake Kegonsa State Park Candlelight Ski - Approximately 2 miles of trail will be lit with hundreds of glowing luminaries. Warm up by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments sold by the Lake Kegonsa State Park Friends Group. This a ski event only. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are prohibited on groomed cross country ski trails. This event is weather and snow conditions permitting. 6-9 p.m. 608-873-9695
Rib Mountain State Park Snowshoe Walks - Start your hike from the Friends' Concession Building. Some snowshoes will be available to borrow but we suggest you bring your own or rented snowshoes; donations to cover costs are welcome. There will be hot chocolate and a campfire. Parking is limited, so please consider carpooling if possible. Sponsored by the Friends of Rib Mountain. 5-7 p.m. 715-842-2522
Newport State Park Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe Event - Ski, hike, or snowshoe an easy 1.2 mile trail lit by homemade candles. Bonfire, refreshments and lit fireplace and grill will greet participants at the end of the trail. If you'd like to volunteer for the event contact the park office. This event is Sponsored by the Newport Wilderness Society.5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-854-2500
Willow River State Park Candlelight Ski - Approximately 2 mile of lit ski trails, 1/2 mile lit hiking trail, bonfire and refreshments. 6-8:30 p.m. 715-386-5931
Interstate State Park Valentine's Day Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Hundreds of candles will be lit to guide skiers, snowshoers and hikers on separate trails. If snow cover permits, cross-country ski on the Skyline Ski Trail (intermediate level) or snowshoe on the Ojibwa Trail. Both trails begin at the Ice Age Center. There will be hiking opportunities no matter the snow conditions. Beginning at the Camp Interstate Shelter, hikers can enjoy a candlelit walk beside the St. Croix River. There will be warming fires at the trailheads. At the Ice Age Center listen to live music provided by The Geezers while enjoying food and refreshments served by the Friends of Interstate Park. 6-9 p.m. 715-483-3747
Richard Bong State Recreation Area Return to Romance Candlelight Walk - Candlelit walk, fine homemade desserts, warm drinks, a fire and live music. Please pre-register and pre-pay by calling 262-878-5601. Fee is $5/adult and $1/child. Meet at the Visitor Center. Don't wait, this program fills quickly! 6-7:30 p.m. for families; 7:30-9 p.m. for adults only. 262-878-5601
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit 26th Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike - More than 300 luminaries to guide skiers, snowshoes and hikers along the two 0.75 mile loops of trail. The Northern Cross Science Foundation will be viewing the winter night ski through telescopes. Enjoy a bonfire and hot chocolate after your hike. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Pike Lake. Meet at the beach. 6-9 p.m. 262-670-3400
Kohler-Andrae State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - Hike, ski or snow shoe the 2-mile, torch lit trail. Warm up with refreshments at the park shelter building. No sleds or pets allowed. 6-9 p.m. 920-451-4080
Peshtigo River State Forest Candlelight Ski and Hike - Skiers will be able to ski on an easy 2-mile trail that offers both classical and skating styles. Non-skiers can try an easy 1-mile hike along the Peshtigo River. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be available for everyone. The location for the ski/hike will be at the Spring Rapids trailhead, 5 miles west from Crivitz on County Road "W" to Kirby Lake Ln. 6:30-8:30 p.m. 715-757-3965
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Governor Thompson State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - The park and trails will be lit by candle luminaries and accented with ice sculptures. Skiers can take an easy 1-mile loop candlelit trail groomed for both classic (diagonal striding) and skate skiing as it weaves through the woods. Non-skiers are welcome to hike another 1-mile candlelit trail with scenic views over Woods Lake. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are not allowed on the ski trail, but are welcome on the hiking trail. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be available for everyone in the Woods Lake Shelter. 6-9 p.m. 715-757-3979
Devil's Lake State Park Candlelight Snowshoe - Self-guided snowshoe (depending on snow) or hike through the park. Warm up by the campfire and make a s'more. Bring your snowshoes or borrow a pair from the park - there are lots of sizes to fit everyone in your family. Make sure you dress appropriately; the event will happen rain, snow or shine. 6-9 p.m. 608-356-8301
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Copper Culture State Park Candlelight Hike - Candlelit hike along the Oconto River. Hikers will follow a looped trail through the woods and along the river banks. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be provided at the shelter building. The event is free, but donations are appreciated. 6-8 p.m. 715-757-3979
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Holtan, state parks, forest, trails and recreation public affairs manager, 608-235-2126