Hidden gems: Lesser-known state parks for camping, hiking and swimming

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Amnicon Falls State Park has nearly 2 miles of hiking trails along the river. Features of the land include stunning geologic formations, mini-pools and waterfalls. — Photo: Travel Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s state park system is so well-known, so well-publicized and so widely admired that it might seem impossible that a few individual parks don’t get the credit they deserve.

Yet, there are definitely less-traveled places offering great trails, views, camping and swimming. Some recommendations:

Camping out

Perrot State Park: Consists of more than 1,200 acres of land surrounded by bluffs. This is where the Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers meet, and it is a perfect place to set up camp. The park offers a multitude of activities and amenities, including biking, canoeing and hiking. Be sure to hike to Brady’s Bluff for the views of the Mississippi River and Trempealeau Mountain. Or canoe in the calm waters of Trempealeau Bay. W26247 Sullivan Road, Trempealeau.

Rock Island: For a rustic camping experience in Door County, take the ferry from Washington Island to Rock Island. There are no bikes. There are no cars. But there are 40 campsites. The park also features 10 miles of hiking trails and 5,000 feet of beach. 1924 Indian Point Road, Washington.

Hiking along

Amnicon Falls State Park: The park has nearly 2 miles of hiking trails along the river. Amnicon Falls’ stunning geologic formations are the result of earthquakes from a half billion years ago. Along with the prehistoric rock formations, hikers can see evidence of the ancient ocean that once covered Wisconsin, as well as volcanic material. The river trail hike features mini-pools, cascades and waterfalls. The Thimbleberry Nature Trail is a great place to enjoy the forested natural setting of the park. Expect to see wildlife and unique vegetation, including deer, coyote, thimbleberries and Indian Pipe. 4279 County Road U, South Range.

Willow River State Park: The park offers camping, fishing, canoeing and swimming, but its 13 miles of hiking trails showcase the park’s magnificent views. The park has four overlooks with views of the waterfalls and the Willow River gorge. 1034 County Road A, Hudson.

Diving in

Big Foot Beach State Park: The park consists of more than 270 acres, with campsites wooded by tall oaks and a sandy beach with a 100-foot swimming area. The water in Lake Geneva is among Wisconsin’s finest. The park also has a large picnic area, a lagoon for fishing and more than 5 miles of meadow and forest hiking trails. 1452 S Wells St, Lake Geneva.

Source: Travel Wisconsin