It’s that time again — the dregs of the year. The snows of winter have melted. The leaves and the wildflowers have yet to bud or bloom. The earth everywhere is brown and gray. Still cold. Groundhog lied again. The first of April arrives and the joke is on everyone who expects it to feel like spring.
Since migrating south isn’t an option for everyone, we’ve collected a list of local parks where you can see nature stripped bare.
Brown Deer Park
This 363-acre park in the Village of Brown Deer is part of the Milwaukee County Park System. The northern half consists of several woodlots separated by grassy fields, along with a 5-acre lake. The southern half is a golf course, which is groomed in winter for skate style cross-country skiing. A second trail, maintained for classic-style skiing, winds around and through the woodlands. In warmer weather a disc golf course runs through some sections. The pond is stocked with panfish, trout and largemouth bass.
The Oak Leaf Trail runs along the north end of the park on the park road between Range Line Rd. on the east and Bradley Rd. on the west. The park has numerous amenities, including a boat house, athletic fields, playground and restrooms.
Location: 7835 N Green Bay Rd
Map it: Milwaukee County Parks map (PDF)
Case Eagle Park
This 239-acre park features nature trails and a canoe launch on the Fox River, which runs through the park. The Seven Waters Trail, a Racine County bike trail, also runs through the park. The 17-mile long, wheelchair accessible trail runs from Burlington to Muskego Lake and encourages the following activities: biking, cross-country skiing, inline skating and walking. It connects with the White River State Trail in Burlington.
Part of the Racine County Park System, the entrance is located off S. Rochester Street, which is also County Highway J. Access is also possible from N. Brown’s Lake Dr., which is also County Highway W. Amenities include baseball diamonds and a fenced dog park.
Location: 310 S. Rochester St., Rochester
Honey Creek Wildlife Area
This 1,495-acre Wildlife Area is made up of four separate parcels in western Racine County and eastern Walworth County. Habitats include oak woodland, lowland woodland, shallow and deep marsh, and grassland. Waterways include Long Lake, Honey Creek and Sugar Creek. Wildlife includes deer, turkey, waterfowl, pheasants and other small game.
The easternmost parcel includes the 83-acre Cherry Lake Sedge Meadow State Natural Area, which contains southern sedge meadow, fen and northern wet forest communities. Of special interest are round-leaved sundew, shrubby cinquefoil, yellow twayblade, marsh St. Johns-wort, marsh fern and sphagnum moss.
Honey Creek is featured in the Lake Michigan Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail as a property with a mix of habitats that provides opportunities to see flycatchers, terns, great blue herons, American bitterns and Sandhill cranes.
According to the DNR website, additional recreational opportunities include canoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, trapping, wild edibles gathering and wildlife viewing. However, there are no designated trails. Three of the four parcels have parking areas. For more information, go to Honey Creek Wildlife Area.
Location: Academy Rd, Burlington
Map it: WDNR map (PDF)