This Summer’s Best Outdoor Excursions

So, the Fall Equinox is upon us- or past us. I guess, the best way to put it, and probably the most efficient way to word what I mean, would be to say, “Fall has arrived.” With that, recollections of summer, as I’m plagued by yearnings for one last mid-70’s day, come to the forefront of my mind. So, with warmer days fading from memory, I figured I’d jot down my favorite 2022 summer outdoor excursions. Whether arduous hiking expeditions , relaxing paddling efforts or challenging bike rides, the fresh air certainly subdued that ever imposing stress monster.

This is a short list, but maybe, as you may be ruefully disappointed in your own summer exploits, (believe me, I wanted to do a ton more myself) I’ll give you ideas for next year. Heck, the ground isn’t hidden by snow, at least not yet, and the leaves are beginning to hint at fiery hues. So, maybe, you can notch one more adventure before the bitter cold envelops the earth.

I’ll start with a passion of mine. Well, I don’t know if it’s a total passion- definitely a past-time though. Today, I was shown that I’m not the greatest mountain biker in the world. I discovered a trail that, quite frankly, humbled me in severe fashion…I’m not writing about that place. Forget that spot.

Yet, even if I can’t conquer every trail, I still consider myself an average mountain biker, and there’s a great park, for individuals like myself, to let loose near Suamico, Wisconsin.

In this area, the lush green serenely enters your soul,

and the hill climbs and descents liven your senses.

The main single track, I’m speaking of the Reforestation Camp’s stacked loop, is listed as a blue trail…some segments are even easier. If you don’t know, blue signifies an intermediate trail. If you choose the full ten miles, give or take a few tenths, you’ll find a fun and challenging ride. Not to fear, if you have any experience under your belt, while these paths do present challenges, you should finish unscathed.

I’ll also mention, while I’m promoting the Reforestation Camp, that this area is alive with family friendly activities. Points of interest include a campground, the NEW Zoo,

an event lodge

and an adventure park.

Also, along with that, should your party have a few scaredy cats, or if you have novice bikers in your group, a very easy double track would allow the rookie a scenic ride. Added to all I mentioned, and I shouldn’t have listed it last, there’s hiking and horseback riding trails here.

So, with all that said, you could make an exciting family vacation, one everyone can enjoy, as you plan your mountain biking weekend. I’m practically here three days a week.

Paddling the East River

This was another activity that, as I engaged in it many times this summer, soothed the nerves. The placid, although murky, waters of the East River, which is a very tame waterway, eagerly lie in wait for the Green Bay resident. And with more than one kayak launch, both of which happen to be located in the village of Allouez, access to this river is no problem.

My choice is the departure point installed in Green Isle Park.

I believe, at least according to my reading, that the maximum depth of the river is six feet. Still, a life vest is a damn good idea. Unfortunately, in a few spots, mainly under the HWY-172 bridge, the water is much shallower.

So, proper navigation is a must.

From the launch in Green Isle Park, while one can enjoy critters such as otters, turtles, deer and a ton of waterfowl,

you can either travel east or west. Westbound craft, after traveling about five miles, will run into the Fox River- which happens to be a much broader artery. Conversely, should you direct your craft eastbound, after a little over two miles, you’ll run into an impassable obstruction.

Besides paddling, the East River Trail can also be accessed near the kayak launch. This paved trail, which runs right along the river’s banks, is a lengthy paved path. Both running and bicycling are permitted on the trail.

Hiking High Cliff State Park’s Redbird Trail

High Cliff’s Redbird trail is located near the park’s observation tower- and the park is located west of the Fox Cities…right on Lake Winnebago. The three mile trail, coursing atop a large bluff, is an easy trek through woodlands and atop limestone flats.

What makes this hike so inviting, at least for me, is the unofficial trail that rides along the limestone bluff. The scenery is splendid! With the cliff adding an element of danger, in a matter of a half an hour, you can feel like a true adventurer.

Also, along the trail, which allows for some spectacular panoramic views,

you’ll discover ancient effigy mounds. These were created by the woodland people over a thousand years ago.

Hiking Governor Dodge State Park

Of my adventures this summer, our time at Governor Dodge State Park saw me furthest from my home – near a place known as Dodgeville, Wisconsin. The trip was definitely worth it. This park is situated in the driftless area, which is a geographical anomaly. Basically, during the past Ice Age, no glacier touched this land. So, the park is full of ancient hills and valleys.

We hiked two trails, both took a little over an hour to complete, and, really, I couldn’t tell you which one was better. So, today, I chose to write about both. We started with the Lost Canyon Trail, which I guess would be most people’s favorite, and finished with the Pine Bluff Trail.

The Lost Canyon Trail descends into an ancient sandstone gorge. The minute you start this trail, after you pass a flowery meadow,

and then descend a rock staircase,

you will be awestruck. Once at the base of the staircase, you’re seemingly encased by sandstone, and you’ll glimpse a trickling waterfall.

After that scene, we felt compelled to follow the babbling brook.

The journey serpentined through aged, forested, earthen and rocky walls.

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

The next day, we chose the Pine Bluff Trail. As you may have guessed, we discovered some cool sandstone bluffs.

Yet, that wasn’t all. We found cool scenery,

prairie flowers,

a lake

and a tranquil forest along the contours of this particular trail.

Hiking the Balanced Rock Trail

Can you tell that I like to hike? Of my summer adventures, this one, which actually occurred in mid May, was my favorite. It took place in Devil’s Lake State Park.

Along Devil’s Lake, which gets its name from indigenous peoples, ones who believed the lake to be sacred, you’ll find crumbling quartzite bluffs.

We climbed one of those bluffs.

The Balanced Rock Trail, named for a rock formation along the trail,

is a steep climb, one that twists and turns, with the aid of a quartzite staircase.

This trail, while claiming to be a mere 0.4 miles, borrowed and hour of our time. It’s rated as difficult…but the sights, and the views…well, they left me spellbound.

I should include the fact that there were other sights at the top of the bluff. Also, on our way back, we discovered a bunch of rock climbers.

I will always remember that morning.

So, that sums it up. I had a vision for this summer, and outdoor adventures were definitely part of that vision. While all my goals hadn’t come to fruition, I can certainly claim that I did have fun, and I conquered much. If you get the itch, and are somewhere near one of these great attractions, give it a try. Of course, exercise caution, and set one foot in front of the other. Soon, you’ll discover a path to your own adventure.

Safe Travels!

6 responses to “This Summer’s Best Outdoor Excursions”

  1. Love this post! What encouragement to get outside! I enjoy hiking, too, and fall is the perfect time to do that. Here in Missouri, we have to worry about ticks in summer, so we avoid hiking trails then. But Fall – well, that’s another story! Nature is very soothing. When I spend time in nature, it feels like a world away. And I feel very calm and peaceful. It seems like you do, too. I think when people are passionate and try to get all they can out of life, there are always things undone. However, it depends on your view. Much was done and enjoyed. It’s good to have some things leftover anyway – for next time. Enjoy the Fall!


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