Get Out and Enjoy Winter in Wisconsin: Plan Your Next Family Snowshoe Adventure

family snowshoeing in Winter in Wisconsin

Winter has arrived, and you might be feeling a little cooped up at home with the kids. Don’t let the cooler temperatures and snow keep you indoors—there are so many ways to enjoy this part of the year!

Wintertime in Wisconsin offers us plenty of days to get out and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of nature at rest. And, you won’t have to worry about swatting mosquitoes or poison ivy to boot! If you and your family have not yet tried your hand (er, foot?!) at snowshoeing, this season is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.

Feeling a little intimidated in researching all the details? Not to worry–we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our tips for successfully snowshoeing with children (including little ones), where to rent snowshoes, and a heap of locations both near & a day trip away to enjoy a refreshing snowshoe adventure with your family this winter.

family snowshoeing at Navarino Nature Center in Shiocton
Family Snowshoeing at Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca, Wisconsin

 Tips for Success for Family Snowshoeing:

  1. Snowshoes can be rented for children at about age 4. But, buyer beware—young children may only last a few minutes. This brings me to my next tip…
  2. Consider pulling younger kids along in a sled or toboggan (or if kids snowshoeing get tired). We brought a blanket too for the sled. Also, consider babywearing for the littlest of winter enthusiasts. I’ve also found wearing a giant coat, front carrying a baby, and zipping the coat over baby’s feet and body make a cozy den for your little bundle.
  3. Snowshoes attach to your regular snow boots and are usually made from aluminum. Some places still rent out the traditional wooden versions (1,000 Islands in Kaukana is one). Snowshoe sizes are determined by weight. Are you looking to invest in some of your own? We’ve had great success at Scheel’s in Appleton. You can also purchase or rent snowshoes from REI in Appleton.
  4. Snowshoe trails are not groomed, and many places will allow you to snowshoe off trail, too! Most trails require a 6 inch base of good snow for a successful snowshoe adventure. Fluffy, fresh snow is best!
  5. Call ahead for conditions and to make sure snowshoes are available.
1000 Islands Nature Preserve, Kaukauna
1000 Islands Nature Preserve, Kaukauna

Where to Snowshoe in Northeast

Bubolz Nature Preserve, Appleton

Bubolz offers 8.5 miles of trails for snowshoeing! They will update their website with trail conditions, or you can call. Always call ahead on weekdays to check on rental availability.

  • Address: 4815 North Lynndale Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin
  • Phone: 920-731-6041
  • Hours:
    • Tuesday through Friday 9 am – 3 pm
    • Saturday 9 am – 3 pm
    • Sunday 11 am – 3 pm
    • CLOSED Monday
  • Rental Fees:
    • Members: $5 per pair
    • Non-members: $10 per pair
    • Trail fee only: $5 with your own equipment for non-members and FREE for members.

READ MORE: Tromp Around in a Winter Wonderland at Bubolz Nature Preserve in Grand Chute

Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, Menasha

The snowshoe trail is about 1/2 mile long, not including the prairie trail.  The prairie trail will add about 1/4 mile. The terrain is relatively flat. Head over to Camp Winnecomac for the best trails. Also, Heckrodt rents snowshoes only when there are six or more inches of fresh snow—it might be best to call ahead to be sure that you’ll be able to rent even if it appears that there is enough snow.

  • Address: 1305 Plank Road, Menasha, Wisconsin
  • Phone: 920-720-9349
  • Nature Center Hours:
    • Tuesday through Friday: 9 am – 3 pm
    • Saturday: 12 – 3 pm
    • CLOSED Sunday & Monday
  • Rental Fee: $5

READ MORE: A Day of Adventure at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve Bonus: treehouse playground!)

1,000 Islands Environmental Center, Kaukauna

Rentals are available out of the Environmental Center to use both on and off the 1,000 Islands property. If you’re looking to try traditional, hard wood-framed snowshoes, this is the place!

  • Address: 1000 Beaulieu Court, Kaukauna, Wisconsin
  • Phone: 920-766-4733
  • Hours:
    • Tuesday through Friday 8 am – 4 pm
    • Saturday 10 am – 3:30 pm
    • CLOSED Sunday & Monday
  • Rental Fees
    • Adults: $2.50 per pair
    • Children: $1.50 per pair
    • Weekend or Weekday Off-Property: $5.00 per pair
    • Friends of 1000 Islands Members: FREE

READ MORE: Tips for Your Visit to 1000 Islands Environment Center, Kaukauna.

High Cliff State Park, Sherwood

Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere in High Cliff State Park except on groomed cross country ski trails when snow-covered. The Forest Management trail is good for winter hiking and snowshoeing.

READ MORE: 26 Awesome Wisconsin State Parks 2 Hours or Less from Appleton!

Mosquito Hill Nature Center, New London

Snowshoe trails are open and rentals available when conditions permit. Please call ahead to check the trail conditions. Mosquito Hill also has a wonderful little natural playground that is equally fun in the snow!

READ MORE: Mosquito Hill Nature Center: Explore the Local Environment Near New London

Ledge View Nature Center, Chilton

Trails are open year-round from dawn to dusk and the nature center is open every day except for national holidays. Call ahead to set up your rental and check on snow conditions. They rent both wooden snowshoes for soft snow and aluminum snowshoes with teeth for more icy conditions.

  • Address: W2348 Short Road Chilton, Wisconsin
  • Phone: 920-849-7094
  • Nature Center Hours:
    • Monday through Saturday: 8 am – 4 pm
  • Rental Fee: $5 per pair

READ MORE: Exploring in Chilton – Nature Center, Caves, Wooden Park & Ice Cream!

Navarino Nature Center, Shiocton

Check out their winter map for designated snowshoe trails. Before you go, find out details on their winter events, including many snowshoe hikes! Make sure to bring along your sleds for the sledding hill, and stop in the Nature Center for a $1 hot cocoa or cappuccino!

READ MORE: Recharge with Your Family in Nature Year-Round at Navarino Wildlife Area & Nature Center

Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca

Check out the winter map at Hartman Creek State Park to find the 3.5 miles of designated snowshoe trails! They also occasionally do offer nighttime snowshoe hikes so make sure to check their website.

READ MORE: Hartman Creek State Park: Stay & Play in the Beautiful Chain ‘O Lakes, Waupaca Area

Looking for even more spots to snowshoe? Check out these parks for a family day trip snowshoe destination:

Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake is equally as breathtaking in the winter months and oh, so worth the drive! When snowshoeing, you’ll want to stick to trails that are not steep and rocky. We suggest trying a portion of the Upland Loop Trail (3.8 mi) or ask for suggestions at the Nature Center.

  • Address: S5975 Park Road, Baraboo, Wisconsin
  • Phone: 608-356-8301
  • Park Hours: Open daily 6 am – 11 pm year round
  • Nature Center Hours:
    • Monday, Wednesday through Friday 10 am – 4 pm
    • CLOSED Tuesday
    • Saturday through Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
  • Rental Fee: FREE, first-come, first-served loaners available in the Nature Center. Call first to check hours and availability.

READ MORE: Wisconsin’s Most-Loved State Park: Devil’s Lake with Kids

Newport State Park

Newport State Park does NOT offer snowshoe rentals, but it does offer about 5 miles of trails designated for snowshoeing or hiking in the winter! Newport State Park is also designated as a Dark Sky Park (one of only two in the Midwest and 18 in the country), making it an ideal location for stargazing if you stick around past dark. If you’re lucky, you just might even catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis Northern Lights here at one of the darkest spots in our state!

READ MORE: Experience Rustic Wonder & a Dark Sky at Door County’s Newport State Park

Get out and explore! Any fresh snow is perfect for snowshoeing. Where is your favorite place to snowshoe?

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