On a clear Wisconsin night the moon will light up a fresh snowfall allowing you to see how beautiful the wilderness can be. After the sun goes down the Wisconsin wilderness changes into a wonderland. With winter nights getting dark before most people get home from work there are limited outdoor activities available for Wisconsinites. One of my personal favorite night activities is Candlelight Skiing. Candlelight skiing is cross-country (XC) skiing under the cover of darkness with your ski trail outlined in candles, glow bulbs, holiday lights, or whatever is available to light up a trail. Of course you can simply hike (not recommended unless the trails are perfectly groomed) or snowshoe these candle lined trails, but many think it’s best on top of skis.
If you’ve never XC skied before, there are plenty of places to go to learn and most trails or parks have facilities available to rent equipment if you’re not into making the investment upfront. XC skiing is an excellent winter activity in general, but it’s something really special at night.
There are many private and public ski trails that offer access to their property at night, but be sure to attend a scheduled event. Below we’ve gathered most of the Candlelight skiing events at Wisconsin Public Parks scheduled throughout Wisconsin for Jan 2011:
All of the park titles are linked to their page on the Wisconsin DNR Website
Saturday, January 1, 2011
- Blue Mound State Park, Blue Mounds, (608) 437-5711 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe. Ski one and two mile lighted loops. Separate lighted trail for hikers, snow shoers, and leashed pets. Bonfire, straw bale warming shelter, free hot drinks and marshmallows for roasting. Hot food, baked goods, and commemorative shirts for sale. Sponsored by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
- Harrington Beach State Park, Belgium, (262) 285-3015 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski and Hike. Join the Friends of Harrington Beach and park staff to enjoy the park at night. Put on your skis to experience quarry lake by tiki torch or grab your hiking boots for a stroll. Refreshments available along with a roaring bonfire. Meet at the Welcome Center. 6-9 p.m.
- Lake Kegonsa State Park, Stoughton, (608) 873-9695 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski. Enjoy a beautiful winter evening skiing along 2 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, which will be lit with hundreds of glowing luminaries. When you are finished, warm up by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments sold by the Friends of Lake Kegonsa State Park. This event is weather and snow conditions permitting. Sorry, no pets, hiking or snowshoes are allowed on the ski trails. A valid park admission sticker is required for entry into the park. 6-9 p.m.
- Lapham Peak Unit – Kettle Moraine State Forest, Delafield, (262) 646-3025 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski and Hike. Ski or hike on a 1-mile candlelit course with a bonfire, heated shelter, ice skating, and refreshments. Vehicle admission is required. Ski rental is available at the Evergreen Grove picnic area. Sponsored by the Friends of Lapham Peak [exit DNR]. Homestead Hollow. 6-9 p.m.
- Mirror Lake State Park, Baraboo, (608) 254-2333 – Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe. Please Note that the date for this event is one week later than the usual date due to the New Years Holiday. Event sponsored by the Friends of Mirror Lake State Park. Two trails will be lit by torches. One trail is an easy 0.8-mile trail that will be available for everyone to use. The other trail is an easy 1-mile trail for classical skiing. The Friends will have a couple of roaring bonfires to warm up by, and will also have food, drinks and goodies for sale. Meet at the Beach Picnic area for a wonderful evening! 6-8 p.m.
- Wildcat Mountain State Park, Ontario, (608) 337-4775 or e-mail – Torchlight Ski. Enjoy cross-country skiing and night sky viewing. You can ski or hike a gentle 1.5-mile trail through the woods as 100 torches light the way. There will be a bonfire at the beginning and one at the half-way point. A grill will be provided for cooking. There will be a indoor warming area along with hot chocolate and snacks. Meet at the trailhead and indoor warming area located near the park office. Event begins at dusk and goes until 9 p.m.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
- Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, New Auburn, (715) 967-2800 or e-mail – Moonlight Snowshoe. Join Naturalist Rod Gont on 1-hour (2-hour option available) snowshoe hikes by moonlight, starting at the Visitor Center. Over 40 pairs of snowshoes for all ages will be available for those without them (please call ahead to reserve, no charge, donation accepted). The Visitor Center will be open, we’ll have a fire going in the fireplace with hot cocoa available and two outside fires as well. If the turnout is large, a separate hike will also be led for the first hour. All ages are invited! A program about snowshoes will be presented at 6:30 p.m. The event goes regardless of weather. 7 p.m.
- Governor Dodge State Park, Dodgeville, (608) 935-2315 – 12th Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe. Walk or ski a trail lit with glowing candlelight. Warm up by the bonfire after enjoying the trail. Limited snacks and hot drinks will be available for sale. Weather and snow conditions determine the trail location. Didn’t receive a park sticker for Christmas? Here’s your chance to purchase one early and enjoy a year’s worth of Wisconsin State Park memories. Meet at the Cox Hollow Beach area. Sponsored by the Friends of Governor Dodge State Park. 6-9 p.m.
- Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan, (920) 451-4080 or e-mail – Winter Candlelight Hike and Ski. Enjoy the winter wonderland at night with family and friends while skiing or hiking the two-mile cross-country trail. Almost 200 tiki torches will light the way for this annual event. Warm up afterwards by the fireplace. Refreshments will be available in the heated shelter building. Please, no pets, snowshoes or sleds allowed on the trail. Free Program. Vehicle admission sticker is required. Cross-country ski trail – stop at park office for map. 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
- Brunet Island State Park, Cornell, (715) 239-6888 or e-mail – Candlelight Classic Skiing and Snowshoeing . Enjoy an evening in the winter woods, a candlelit trail, and a warm fireplace with family and friends! No state park vehicle sticker required at this event, but annual passes will be available for purchase. Beach hill open for sledding until dark. Ski equipment and snowshoes may be checked out free of charge. Warming fires provided in the historic log shelter. Hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee will be available. Bring your own provisions, hot dogs and marshmallows to roast in the fireplaces. Sponsored by Cornell Lions Club. Pavillion. 5-7:30 p.m.
- Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit, Eagle, (262) 594-6200 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski and Hike. Ski or hike the 1.6-mile purple loop through the woods illuminated by 450 candles! No hills—no spills! The Nordic Trail is on Highway County H, about 3 miles south of Palmyra and 1.5 miles north of LaGrange. Ski Rental is available in LaGrange Store which donates $2 per rental for next year’s event. Hot beverages and food will be available for sale in the heated shelter. A bonfire and charcoal will also be available to bring your marshmallows and food you would like to cook. Dogs are allowed on ski trail – at this event only. No skate skiing or skijoring. Vehicle admission sticker is required. Meet at the Nordic Trailhead. 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
- Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca, (715) 258-2372 – Candlelight Ski/Hike. Ski on tracked trails lighted by candles, 1.5 miles in total distance. There is also, a 1-mile hiking trail lit by candles. Begin at the Hartman Lake Shelter Building. Warming and food, cooking fires/grills and hot water provided. Free refreshments (bars, cookies, cider and hot chocolate) provided by the Friends of Hartman Creek. 5-8 p.m. The alternate/rain date is Saturday, February 5.
- Lake Wissota State Park, Chippewa Falls, (715) 382-4574 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe. Lighted ski, snowshoe, walking trails. Refreshments are available. Call (715) 967-2800 to reserve a pair of snowshoes. Sponsored by the Friends of Lake Wissota State Park. 5-8 p.m.
- Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers, (920) 794-7480 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski/Hike. Enjoy nature at its best! Join the Friends of Point Beach State Forest for our cross-country ski and hiking event. We will have a 1-mile candlelit trail through the pine and hemlock forest. Afterwards,cozy up to a blazing fire in our historic lodge building. Food, refreshment and entertainment will be available. Sponsored by the Friends of Point Beach. 5-9 p.m.
- Whitefish Dunes State Park, Jacksonport, (920) 823-2400 or e-mail – Candlelight Ski. Snow covered trails and the soft swish of skis combined with candle-light describes the scene at Whitefish Dunes State Park’s annual candlelight ski. Join the Friends of Whitefish Dunes for a night of skiing and fun. The picnic shelter will be open and the fireplace lit. Hot beverages and cookies will be provided. A candlelight hike will replace the ski if there is not enough snow. Meet at the picnic shelter building. 6-9 p.m.
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