It's the perfect time for night hikes

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Margaret Plevak | January 27, 2017

Missing summer fun like camping, hiking and zip-lining?

Don't let winter stop you.

Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities for the season, like skiing, sledding and skating. But what if you want to do something that feels a little more like July when it's January? You'd be surprised at what's available:

Enjoy the view

Winter is a great time to go zip-lining.

“It's a totally different experience. Most deciduous trees have lost their leaves, so the view is wide open,” said Seth Elder, director of marketing for Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, which operates year-round.

The sport draws a lot of couples and families, although zip lines are recommended for ages 7 and older, he said.

Elder suggests people dress for the weather.

“I would say an extra pair of socks goes a long way,” he said.

Catering to guests at nearby resorts who may decide on the spur of the moment they want to go on a canopy tour, Lake Geneva Canopy Tours offers accessories like gloves, hats and snowpants for those who come unprepared.

And while Lake Geneva Canopy Tours is open daily from dawn to dusk, Elder reminds people that with shorter daylight hours, the last launch time is around 2 p.m. for a canopy adventure that lasts about 2 1/2 hours.

And if you'd rather be earthbound, Lake Geneva Canopy Tours has more than 10 miles of trails for mountain biking, snowshoeing and hiking.

See more at or call 262-248-9271.

Take a trek after dark

What about a night hike? A number of conservation groups are hosting candlelight hikes at state parks and properties for a truly unusual experience. Many offer family friendly amenities like campfires, available grills and treats like hot cocoa or cider after the hikes.

Try the hikes at the Lapham Peak unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit, on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., or Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A daily or annual park admission sticker is generally required for parking, and because of the popularity of candlelight hikes, access may be restricted once parking capacity is reached.

For more information, visit

Set up camp

Want to get even closer to nature? Go camping.

While summer camping still brings in the crowds, winter camping is gaining in popularity, particularly as a family activity.

“When kids are out of school for a holiday break, we get a lot of calls asking about what's available. For many people, it's become something of a family tradition,” said Melanie Krause, visitor services associate at the Ottawa Lake Visitors Center and Campground, which is open year-round and located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit.

There are 99 camping sites at Ottawa Lake, 10 of them plowed, plus two walk-in sites with a plowed parking area and three backpack shelters along the Ice Age Trail. There are also electrical hookups, but campsites may not have flush toilets in winter.

Still, your natural surroundings are guaranteed to be pretty.

“With the mixed variety of terrain here, the scenery is always beautiful, even in winter,” Krause said.

For more information, visit or call Ottawa Lake Visitors Center at 262-594-6220.

Relax with yoga

If you practice yoga, don't think you have to limit yourself to an indoor studio in winter.

ClearWater Outdoor's Adventure Club offers snow yoga from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Saturday through March 25 at the pavilion near the ranger shack at Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva.

Participants don snowshoes -- with rentals available -- and practice yoga poses in the beautiful, snowy woods.

“The classes are very popular,” said Shannon Blay, Adventure Club coordinator at ClearWater Outdoor in Lake Geneva. ”We will have attendees that range from experienced yogis to folks that have never practiced or even put on a pair of snowshoes.”

Registration and a state park pass are required.

For more information, visit or call 262-348-2420.


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