Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day Hike at New Glarus Woods

Located in New Glarus, Wisconsin on Highway Nn, the Havenridge Nature Trail at the New Glarus Woods State Park provides an easy to moderate 4.2 mile (6.8 km) hike meandering through woodlands and prairies.  The rolling hills add a moderate amount of exertion to this otherwise easy hike. This trail is wide, grassy, well-groomed, and easy to follow. It is particularly beautiful when prairie flowers are in bloom, or when fall colors peak.

While camping in July, I hiked the Havenridge Nature Trail at sunrise, with woodlands to my right and the valley to my left. Awed by the mist in the valley, the prairie flowers, and the red glow of  morning sun on the trees, I promised myself a return with my camera. Now that I've seen the trail in mid November, I still like the trail, but I am reminded of how precious and fleeting nature's moments of glory really are.

I also realize that New Glarus Woods is not an escape into wilderness. Later in the season with tree cover down, one easily sees the surrounding roads, farms, homes, and businesses. The sound of tires on pavement remains well within earshot. Small streams along the trail have been fitted with culverts, and numbered signs corresponding to points in a nature guide dot the trail.

A map of the park and its trails is available at the entrance station to the park or online from the Wisconsin DNR's website on the New Glarus Woods page. The park also offers a guidebook to accompany numbered features along the hike, which may entertain children and help keep them moving to see what's next. A nice aspect of the trail when hiking with children is that the trail system offers means to short cut the hike and get back to the road crossing near the parking area if an early bailout is required.

With kids, a promised reward of time at the playground near the trail head parking area may help with motivation. Being cold and late in the season, I got to enjoy my most recent visit to the Havenridge Nature Trail alone, and enjoyed the time to relax and hike alone with my thoughts. However, in the past my daughter and I have had a good time on the playground while visiting New Glarus Woods to hike, bike, and camp.

I should mention for those who enjoy cycling, a paved Sugar River Trail spur leads into the park. Camping is available on the Sugar River Trail Spur. We've camped on the spur trail a couple of times. It gets a little busy and noisy on the weekend, but it's nice if you're a cyclist.  New Glarus and The Sugar River Trail may be easy accessed by bicycle right from camp.

A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your car for entry to the New Glarus Woods State Park, and may be purchased at the park entrance.

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