Whether you have spent the winter outside exploring or cooped up indoors, the refreshing
feeling that comes with Wisconsin’s first signs of spring is hard to beat. The flowers start
blooming, the rivers open up, and the sun finally decides to hang around for a while! There’s no
better place to embrace the start of spring than Lake Country, where your next outdoor
adventure is always close by. Grab the kids, dogs, and waterproof gear; it’s time to hit the trails!
What to Pack
Spring comes with a lot of uncertainty… you know what they say about April showers! Given
the potential for muddy trails and impromptu rain, you’ll want to pack for all conditions. Here are some suggestions for what to pack:
- Bring rain gear! Every person on the hike should have a raincoat or poncho on-hand, as
well as a pair of rain boots. The saying goes that if you pack them, you won’t need them, so you might as well be over-prepared.
- Extra socks can also be a lifesaver if the aforementioned rain boots don’t do their job. Merino wool or fleece will fare much better than the typical cotton variety.
- Buying an annual parking pass for Wisconsin’s state parks and forests is a huge money-saver if you plan to hike regularly this year. You can purchase one on your next visit to a state park or order online!
- Dress in layers. The temperature can vary throughout your hike, especially when you switch from a forested to open area. Wearing layers will keep you and the kids comfortable throughout the day.
- Water is important to have for any hike, even when the temperatures are brisk. Bring reusable water bottles to minimize your environmental impact. Some companies, like Klean Kanteen, even have smaller sizes for kids!
Where to go
Located in the northeastern corner of Waukesha County, the Bugline Trail is a great place for an
easy family hike. It is paved and spans over 15 miles between Merton and Menomonee Falls,
with enough ecological variety to make you want to visit again and again. The route winds
through forest and farmland, encapsulating some of Wisconsin’s best natural features. For a
woodsy walk, start at the eastern trailhead in Menomonee Falls; for a little stroll on the prairie, you will want to begin your hike in Merton.
Cost: This trail is free to use; note that the most convenient spot for parking may be in a county park, which costs $5 per car.
Hours: 6:00 AM – ½ hour after sunset (unless otherwise posted)
Your family will love hiking this iconic Wisconsin trail, but you can also bring the bikes along if
two-wheeled exploration is more their speed! The trail begins at the Fox River Sanctuary in
Waukesha and goes as far west as Cottage Grove. During your time on the trail, keep an eye out
for drumlins, which are teardrop-shaped hills. They are actually piles of sediment left behind by
the glaciers and many can be found along the path. Turn it into a fun game with the kids and see how many you can find!
- Cost for cars: $8 per car per day or $25 for an annual Wisconsin state parks pass
- Cost for bikes: $5 per bike per day or $25 for an annual Wisconsin state trail pass
- Hours: Unknown
Wisconsin has a unique glacial history that comes to life in the Kettle Moraine. Waukesha County fell along the line where the Green Bay Lobe and Lake Michigan Lobe of the historic Laurentide Ice Sheet collided, leaving behind the distinct topographical features we see today. Lapham Peak itself is, in fact, a notable glacial feature called a moulin kame. From its peak (and atop the observation tower that stands above it), you can take in one of the most scenic views around. The kids will love climbing up this treehouse doppelganger and guessing how far into the distance they can see from the top!
- Cost: $8 per car per day or $25 for an annual Wisconsin state parks pass
- Hours: 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM, year-round