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Ice fishing on Wallace Lake, West Bend

Photo essay: Winter fun all over SE Wisconsin!

February 8, 2022  |  Topics: Stories

By Eddee Daniel

Before I share with you all the wonderful ways people have found to enjoy the winter in parks all over our area, I must confess that overall it’s been a disappointing winter so far. It’s all about snow, isn’t it? Fact is, we’ve had very little of it around here. On top of that, it’s been bitterly cold, which is good for ice skaters and snowmobilers who want to run on the rivers, but for little else. But, having gotten that out of the way, I’m here to show you the exceptions: Places folks have found either with enough snow or where snow isn’t the main attraction, such as ice fishing on Wallace Lake in West Bend (above). Just you watch: as soon as I hit “upload” on this essay a huge blizzard will dump plenty of snow. In any case, without further ado, in roughly chronological order, here you go… (follow the links in the captions to explore selected places further.)

Disc golfing at Sandy Knoll County Park in West Bend.
Disc golfing isn’t an activity normally associated with winter, but it’s happening here at Sandy Knoll County Park in West Bend.
Sledding at Whitnall Park.
One of my favorite winter activities lately has been taking my grandkids sledding. Between being back in school in person and the lack of snow, we’ve only gotten out once so far this year–and we had the hill at Whitnall Park all to ourselves.
Sunrise over Lake Michigan creates a colorful backdrop for this jogger at Atwater Park in Shorewood.
Sunrise over Lake Michigan creates a colorful backdrop for this jogger at Atwater Park in Shorewood.
An ice fishing hut glows under the winter sun at Nashotah Park.
An ice fishing hut glows under the winter sun at Nashotah Park.
Waiting for dawn at Bradford Beach.
A jog around the lagoon in Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront.
More ice fishing! Here at Lake Nagawicka in Delafield.
I visited Lois Jensen Nature Preserve in Delafield for the first time, but it was clearly a popular spot for others.
A family working on their hockey skills at Lilly Heights Park in Brookfield.
The Milwaukee River Greenway was a magnet for winter recreation, whether you stuck to the riverside trails, like the jogger here, or struck out onto the river itself, like the solitary hiker.
A trio of cyclists from the aerial perspective provided by the Locust St Bridge.
Even the occasional cyclist heads out onto the frozen river. Spiked tires help with traction!
A large section of the river between Pleasant Valley and Cambridge Woods was cleared for skating.
This was a first: I’ve never seen anyone ice fishing in the Greenway before.
They seem precariously close to the ice edge and open water below the North Avenue Bridge, however, one of them told me that their holes were a good 13 inches deep.
When I spoke with them at 2:30 pm they said they’d been out since 9:30 am and had yet to catch anything!
Although the trees were all bare of snow, the groomed cross-country ski trails at Fox Hill Nature Preserve and Nordic Ski Area were in fine shape the day my wife and I visited.
Since we were on foot we stayed on the snow shoe trail, here climbing one of the kames in the preserve.
We were all lucky that day; temperatures rose into the high 40s the following day!
The Short Road Trailhead Preserve, owned and managed by Caledonia Conservancy, also provides access to Renak-Polak State Natural Area, which is best visited in winter when the otherwise soggy ground is frozen.
At King’s Corner, another Caledonia Conservancy preserve, one of the options is looking for fairy doors!
Completing a hat trick of Caledonia Conservancy properties, I took a group of Urban Wilderness Explorers on a hike of the Trout Ponds and Prairie Preserve.
The Trout Ponds and Prairie Preserve is where I also managed to catch a couple of snowmobilers ripping their way down the adjacent Root River.

Related stories from outings in the winter of 2022:

Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area: Degrees of Wilderness … and Solitude.

Badertscher Preserve in Muskego: A Hidden Gem.

Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and curator of The Natural Realms.