Brown County Winter Hike

Brown County State Park
January 19, 2008

“January observations can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost as continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who has done what, but to speculate why”.
—Aldo Leopold

Winter has long been a special time for nature lovers. Just as summertime nature study need not end for us as the sun goes down, or discontinue due to seasonal changes, we now eagerly look forward to another time. Like January for Leopold, we wonder at the signs and ask, among other things, is the “risk” worth it? That is, for the opossum or any other animal to venture out of a den for food during this frigid time could mean survival but if caught by a storm before getting back, it can also mean extreme exposure, sickness, or death. Our bookshelves at the Nature Center contain several field guides and handbooks that help us understand winter and nature’s (sometimes merciless) response: winter botany, trails, tracks and signs, winter birds, snow and ice, winds, storms, and blizzards. You’d be surprised how many animals and birds are active now as temperatures plummet and ice crystals form.

And another Brown County State Park Winter Hike is planned for us to enjoy the great winter outdoors.

On Saturday, January 19, 2008, beginning at 9:00 a.m., one of two hiking routes can be chosen by all hikers: friends, park visitors, lodge guests, and local residents. Beginning at the Nature Center, the “Southern Loop Hike” takes all walkers along a closed park road past breathtaking Hohen point, into Strahl Valley then around Lake Strahl. Return to the Nature Center via Trail #6. It is 3.5 miles in length. At the Lake Strahl Shelter, local Boy Scout Troop 190 will prepare “s’mores” for a welcomed hiker snack. Hot coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will be available from the Abe Martin Lodge. The scouts can also offer first aid, (blister pads, sunscreen, etc.), doggie snacks, and helpful hiking tips. Donations accepted.

Another hike route is the “Woodland Hike.” It starts at the park’s Recreation Building, proceeds through Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve (Trail #5), around Lake Ogle (Trail #7), and return; it is 2.75 miles in length. At the Lake Strahl shelter, there’ll be more scouts, s’mores and hot drinks. Hikers from years past have commented it’s a nice treat to be greeted by warm refreshments offered by happy scouts. Fires will warm hikers at both lake shelter houses. Drivers are available at both shelter houses to return any hiker who does not wish to complete the hike.

Along both routes, DNR interpreters will greet hikers with winter wildlife facts.

Get a warm, hearty start to the Winter Hike with “Breakfast with the Naturalists” at the Abe Martin Lodge dining room, 7:00 a.m. Nature Center staff will visit with hikers over breakfast before heading out. Following the hike, a “Hiker’s Buffet” will be served in the dining room starting at 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Each costs $8.99 per meal. As in past years, a Craft Fair with local crafts will be held in the upstairs lobby at the Abe Martin Lodge from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Winter Hike is another opportunity for the park to partner with the Brown County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. More information is available on a link to their website at <>. A small user fee of $1 per hiker is charged, plus gate fee or annual pass. Children under five years are not charged admission.

The Friends of the Park will again sell the Winter Hike patch and accompanying year chevron for collectors at the Abe Martin Lodge starting at 11:00 a.m. For a great day outdoors, enjoying friends, food and nature, mark it down now on your new 2008 calendar: “Winter Hike, 9:00 a.m”, and we’ll see you there.