We hiked the Hemlock Trail in Wisconsin’s Potawatomi State Park in August and found this trail to be very peaceful. Bugs were very minimal, shade covered at least 85% of this trail and very little of the trail is paved.
The trail starts are picnic parking lot #2 in the park. There is ample parking here and restrooms at the trail head.
Signage is marked along most of the trail by a hemlock branch on a white square sign located on trees. Although, not all of the trail is clearly marked…..so its not the best mapped trail WI has to offer in my opinion.
There are also trail maps with arrows letting you know “you are here” along the way but we found that some were outdated and incorrect. My advise would be to ask for a current trail map upon entering the park and bring it with you.
This trail starts out along the water and quickly brings you deep into a forested area, past some campsites and back round in a complete loop to parking area #2 where you began. In the park guide they claim this trail is 2.6 miles long. We, however, did not track this hike so I can not give you an accurate mileage.
This trail has little elevation, is mainly flat with many roots crossing the path. Trekking poles may be a good idea or even a branch found in the forest may be helpful.
I would rate this as an easy family hike.
The trail is normally a great escape for me. It’s a time to reset, enjoy nature, savor the peace and quiet of falling leaves, and just be in the moment. Unfortunately, even when I am on a trail I sometimes may run into something/someone that just takes me by surprise (besides a snake)!
Recently, a friend joined us on a hike and we came across a few of these “surprises” and I was quite happy to hear not only do they surprise me but others also.
- Lack of people. We recently hiked two separate days a total of 7 miles on a very popular trail in a state park. The sun was high in the sky, temps were perfect and bugs were tolerable. It was also a weekend when you would expect most people out doing something fun. Don’t let me forget to mention, the campground at this state park was almost full. During these two days and 7 miles we came across a total of 13 people! I was shocked, I could not believe we ONLY saw 13 people in two days.
- Flip flop hikers. Clearly they had the urge to hike but it was not in the game plan initially or they would have had better options for footwear. I could never pull this off but they did and I was impressed.
- Trail maps. “YOU ARE HERE” may not always mean “YOU ARE HERE.” I have only hiked in a few states and WI is by far one that needs some work with their trail maps. Whether it be updating, repair or even placing the red star in the correct spot stating “YOU ARE HERE”, they just need some attention. I would highly recommend a GPS if you plan any elaborate hikes in the area.
- Food taste better on the trail. Truth be told, I never thought I would ever consume a freeze dried meal. However, after a long hike, they are quite appetizing to say the least. I may even go as far and say that I even look forward to them.
- Hikers texting. OMG, put your darn phone in your pocket and look up!!! You are missing the best part.
- Smokers on the trail. This took me by surprise. This person was just ahead of us on the trail and instead of taking in fresh air we had to breathe second hand smoke. Happy…. I was not! Irritated…. extremely! The trail was not that long but apparently they just could not wait and had to light up before the hike was over.
- Age groups we come across. This is my biggest shocker I think. Most hikers we come across are middle aged to older adults and I am just so happy about this fact. I think it is fantastic!!! We have so many people we know that we have tried to get to join us on fun hikes and everyone says the same exact thing…..they’re too old! I just wish they could see they really are not too old, because we see it on the trail all the time.
- Kids exhausted. As scary as this is for me to see it is also very frustrating for me also. Kids should be able to do anything I can do and much more. However, we come across kids 10-16 years old that have to sit, rest, and simply force their bodies to hike further down a trail. What is happening to our youth?
- Pack it in/Pack it out. Dispose of waste properly! This is what that means. Let me be more specific. If you carried it in with you, you also carry it out with you. If you did not find it on the trail, it does not belong left on the trail.
- Strenuous/Moderate/Easy. This can mean different things to different people. Do your research and make sure it’s what you can handle.
Do you have anything you can add?
I would love to hear what you have come across while hiking.
Can you relate to any of mine?