Lake Wissota State Park is a great place to enjoy the winter weather. It has snowmobiling trails leading up and along the park. It also both groomed classic and skate trails in addition to multi-use trails. There is access to drive a UTV or snowmobile on the lake as well. Come enjoy a beautiful Wisconsin Winter.
There are a few special winter considerations that it’s important to know. The flush toilets in the park are closed for the winter but the pit toilets remain open. Pit toilets are in three places in the park. One is by the boat launch, one by what is marked as the horse trails which is the larger plowed parking area north of the park road, and one in the campgrounds.
The campgrounds are not open for winter use and the campground roads are not plowed. The reservation system allows booking of one loop of the campground until the end of November and re-opens the last week in April. Check with the office for official dates.
There are over 10 miles of snowshoe trails throughout the park. About half of these trails are not groomed and you will probably want snowshoes. Looking for some snow shoes? Check out this popular pair.
The remaining 5 miles of those are groomed and maintained for hiking and fat biking. Pets are welcome on the multi-use trails. The trails are groomed from at least the park office along the Lake trail to the summer beach area. The trail is easily wide enough for two to walk comfortably next to each other. We usually go without snowshoes on the groomed sections of trail though you could certainly use them without a problem. Depending on the conditions you may be able to simply use your regular hiking shoes however if it is a bit icy consider Yak Traxs. For hiking I like the Yak Trax Pro but click here if you need some help on what kind is right for you.
The Lake trail gives great views of the lake. Along that trail, there are two stairways down to the water that are not maintained. I walked down there with my adventurous kids but grandma was rightfully worried about slipping and waited on the trail for us.
There are 8 miles of groomed nordic ski trails at Lake Wissota. They groom for both classic and skate. The easiest access to the trails is to park at the furthest parking lot from the entrance, near the boat launch. There is a pit toilet and you can hop right on the trails. As with all groomed cross-country ski trails, no skiers are asked to stay off the trails.
For the Kids
There are two playgrounds at Lake Wissota State Park. One is not plowed but easy to access if you park in the beach parking lot. The other playground is in the campground and after the snow flies, it is only accessible by hiking a half mile or so along the Lake trail. There is a covered picnic area between the campgrounds and Lake Trail that is a nice place to stop for a quick snack or a rest.
When I have my young kids with me I prefer the groomed trails. We had fun parking at one end of the Lake trail (you could park by the beach or the overlook) and hiking to the campgrounds. There we had a snack at the picnic table and they got to play on the playground before hiking back. We also brought binoculars as a fun way to get them looking around. We got this pair for my kids, only $16 for two pairs. They seem pretty robust and are easy for little hands to use. We are always searching for warm and waterproof gloves that wont break the bank and have been really happy with REI’s Timber Mountain Gloves for kids. They have wrists straps to help prevent loosing them and are reasonably priced.
Motorized trails and Lake Access
Lake Wissota is a popular place for ice fishing. The state park does not monitor the thickness of the ice. If you are looking for a place to get your motorized toys onto the lake, many people park near the boat launch as an access point.
Approximately 5 miles of the summertime horse trails along the northern edge of the park turn into snowmobile trails in the winter. They connect to a generous network of Chippewa county trails. Check the Travel Wisconsin site for up to date trail conditions.
If you love state parks, check out Brunet Island State Park, it is only 30 minutes north Lake Wissota. In the winter Brunet Island grooms just over 4 miles for classic ski only. The remaining trails are open to hiking/snowshoeing.
If you are looking for more skiing, biking, or hiking trails, check out Hickory Ridge Recreation Area. It is about 30 minutes north of the park and has 15 miles of biking and 27 kilometers of skiing trails.
Eau Claire is only about 30 minutes away and has a wealth of activities. Check out their city link here for top outdoor winter activities.
If you are looking for a bite, check out my post here about spending a weekend at Lake Wissota for food recommendations.
I have a special place in my heart for this wonderful park having spent a lot of time in the Chippewa Falls are in my younger adult life. Both in summer and winter this is a wonderful park to spend some time in. What’s your favorite park about visiting Lake Wissota in the winter?
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really special photos