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Kayakers at Hartman Creek State Park. / Heather Burt/For


Charlie and I spend a lot of our free time hiking the Ice Age Trail, but Wisconsinís state parks and forests take a close second. For a minimal fee to purchase an annual sticker, unlimited adventures await you!

Last weekend, we used our 'ticket to adventure' to explore Hartman Creek State Park located near Waupacaís Chain Oí Lakes. Rolling hills dominate the landscape with crystal clear spring-fed lakes nestled in between.

Hiking around Allen Lake, youíll find yourself surrounded by delicious campfire smells from the campground overlooking the lake above the trail. At high points on the trail you can see down through the clear water all the way to the bottom of the lake while enjoying a multitude of birds flitting through the woods enjoying the lake and landscape with you.

The quiet stillness of the woods, punctuated only by the sounds of birds, brings a deep sense of relaxation. But donít be fooled Ė this park is made for getting active! At the concession stand near the beach, you can rent bicycles and boats as well as stock up on camping gear and refreshments. The extensive trail system has trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. And if youíre a fan of the Ice Age Trail, youíre in luck Ė the Hartman Creek Segment runs right through the park!

If youíre in search of a slower-paced experience, grab a fishing pole and head to the fishing pier on Allen Lake or rent a boat and paddle out to the middle of a lake to bask in the sun and watch the geese glide by. There are also perfectly positioned picnic tables and benches throughout the park offering views of the lakes while listening to the wind whispering through the pine branches.

For wildlife watching and absorbing beautiful views, nearby Emmons Creek Barrens State Natural Area provides habitat for the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly which feeds on the fields of wild lupine. Early June is the peak time for lupine, so head out soon to catch a glimpse of these butterflies. Inside the park boundary is a high point called Presentation Area. At an elevation of 1,030 feet it offers views of the glacial landscape surrounding the park.

Whether youíre an adventure seeker looking for an adventure or just want to sit back and relax, you can find it all at Hartman Creek State Park. Charlie and I didnít get to explore as much as I had wanted, but we had a great time and will definitely be back!

More on hiking: Hiking news from around the state | Your hiking photos | Create a map for your next hiking trip

Photos from the State Parks: Wyalusing State Park | Hartman Creek State Park | Governor Dodge State Park | Devil's Lake State Park | Rib Mountain State Park | Kohler-Andrae State Park | High Cliff State Park | Copper Falls State Park | Amnicon Falls State Park

Read more posts from Heather Burt.

Heather Burt documents the ongoing journey with her dog as they play, hike and road-trip around Wisconsin in her blog Burt hopes to bring awareness to our state's bountiful natural beauty while encouraging people to enjoy nature.

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