Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Camping Fun at High Cliff State Park

On a cold, wet October Friday night we arrived at High Cliff State Park in the Village of Sherwood, Wisconsin for a weekend Halloween celebration. We reviewed our plan for staying as dry as one can when setting up camp on a dark, rainy night, and due to the steady rain it looked like setup and to sleep early for us. But not so fast.

When we found or campsite, we saw that my brother who lives nearby  had brought his son up to our site and decorated. My daughter squealed with glee for the giant 1583 pound pumpkin they had carved and placed on our sight. She couldn't stop running back to look at it. As we got ready to turn in, my brother and his son showed back up to welcome us to town. We sat under the tarp snacking, talking pumpkins, waiting for the rain to slow, and generally having a good time. When the rain finally let up, I cajoled the group into walking around the campground in the "spooky" dark to check out all the fun decorations.

Updated - Added this video

Saturday afternoon we took another walk about to check out the decorations while we waited for my daughter's cousins to join us for a fun night of trick-or-treating and celebration around the campfire. The decorations were quite fabulous, and unlike most of our outdoor adventures, we met a lot of enthusiastic and Halloween crazy campers - and got plenty folks questions about how did we do it in a tent when it is "so cold" and rainy. By the looks of their clothing (cotton, denim, no layers) and given weather, I suspect we stayed warmer and dryer in our quick drying layers than many of the RV and camper dwellers. We also got hundreds of questions about the giant pumpkin and many parents stopping by to photograph their kiddos with the pumpkin. Looks like giant pumpkins bring out the best in people.

Chief Red Bird.

Lake Winnebago.

Gorgeous colors on the Red Bird Trail.

Tower selfie.

My favorite hiking trail at High Cliff is the Red Bird Trail. This easy 3.8 mile (6.1 km) loop passes through field and forest, then passes by the family and group camp grounds. It follows the cliffs for a good stretch, features Indian burial mounds, and swings by the lookout tower and the chief redbird statue.

Sunday's hike, 3.2 miles (5.1 km) of the Red Bird Trail.

The trail occasionally traverses rock and crushed lime stone sections, with a couple of road crossings. The rock felt especially slippery on this damp morning. The bulk of the trail has a grass or dirt surface. We hiked the trail as a family Saturday when the rain let up, and my daughter and I hiked it again early Sunday morning. We found plenty of clothes dropped on the trail  most likely as people hiked back to their cars in the dark after trick-or-treating the campgrounds and turned them in at the park office.

This weekend, we enjoyed bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast. We had hot dogs and gumbo for lunch with sides of grapes and carrots. For dinner we put out the party spread after we trick-or -treated and served our visitors pulled pork sandwiches on homemade buns as the entree. Even Grandma showed up to sit around the fire and enjoy the festivities.



High Cliff State Park is a popular spot for a picnic, hike, or jog near the Fox Cities. With beautiful limestone cliffs alongside Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park features about 16 miles (25.7 km) trails including an 8.5 mile (13.7 km) horse and bicycle trail. It also features a marina, beach, lookout tower with a 30 mile (48.3 km) view, great views of the lake from the cliff top, Indian burial mounds, a statue of Chief Red Bird, and a general store museum which I've never seen open in all my years of visiting this park. October's color change makes this most beautiful time of the year at High Cliff State Park.

Road into the campground at High Cliff State Park.

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