Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day Hikes at Lake Kegonsa State Park

White Oak Trail, November 2014.
Lake Kegonsa State Park is located on Door Creek Road in Stoughton, Wisconsin. The park provides a nice venue for easy going family hikes. With about 5 miles (8.0 km) of well-maintained hiking trails, two nice playgrounds, and a beach area, there are enough rest and play stops to keep little ones happy.

The White Oak Trail provides an easy 1.2 mile (1.9 km) hike through the trees. The White Oak Trail is wide and well maintained, gently sloping in most areas. This is one of the easy trails my daughter cut her teeth on as a toddler.

The Prairie Trail provides a sunny contrast to the forested White Oak Trail. The Prairie Trail is covered with crushed limestone. It’s also flat, making for an easy hike. It can be short looped (0.7 miles / 1.1 km) or long looped past the group campsite (1.3 miles / 2.1 km).

Prairie Trail, October 2014.

In the spring and summer, birding is excellent on the Prairie Trail. I enjoyed spotting many bluebirds, hawks, and swallows while hiking this trail in May. Although I saw no bluebirds, hawks, or swallows on my fall hikes, it proved especially beautiful. The reds and yellows of the surrounding trees provided magnificent contrast to the frost covered prairie fields.

Early this week the forecast called for morning rain turning to snow. I hiked the trails at Lake Kegonsa just for the fun of watching rain turn to snow. Although I wore my blaze orange vest in the area of the park that allows archery hunting, I did not see any hunters.

Hiking from the Prairie Trail across the road to the trails to the east that travel through the fields near the park entrance, one may connect with a trail to the beach and to the campgrounds. On the trail to the beach, one may sidetrack, circling around the 0.3 mile (0.5 km) Bluebird trail.

From the Bluebird Trail, traveling downhill from the upper picnic area, one may walk along the beach and pick up the Lakeshore Trail, then head over to the Oak Knoll loops. The Lakeshore Trail is an easy paved ½ mile, and the only trail in the park that allows bicycles. The trail also has a stop at a pet beach where dogs may swim and play.

Watching the rain turn to snow at the beach near the Lakeshore Trail, November 2014.

From the Lakeshore Trail, one may head to the Oak Knoll Loops. These easy grassy 0.2 and 0.4 miles (0.4 and 0.6 km) loops provide easy hikes with views of oaks and fields. The bridge between the Lakeshore Trail and the trail to the Oak Knoll loops offers an especially gorgeous vantage point for waterfowl watching and photography. Don’t forget to walk down the short boardwalk near the bathhouse at the beach for additional bird watching opportunities.

A vehicle admission sticker is required for visiting Wisconsin State Parks. The sticker may be purchased annually, or for short visits a short term sticker may be purchased. For maps of the hiking trails and further information, check the Lake Kegonsa State Park information on the Wisconsin DNR website.

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