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Boardwalk at Eagle Nature Trail, Eagle WI

The Park Next Door launches a new online magazine about nature in Wisconsin!

April 30, 2024  |  Topics: featured artist

Editor’s note: If you’re not already familiar with The Park Next Door, I’m delighted to introduce you to fellow traveler and explorer, Kimberly Mackowski. Her website and blog have often been an inspiration for me. As well traveled as I try to be, I still check out her site now and then to find new places I have yet to explore. And now I’m pleased to announce her newest endeavor, an online magazine that she has launched in celebration for the ten-year anniversary of founding The Park Next Door. I invite you to enjoy! ~ Eddee Daniel


Story and photos by Kimberly Mackowski

Ten years on, I’m still enamored with neighborhood and small community parks and preserves of Wisconsin. They are a vital part of our everyday lives. They make it possible for us to get outside, in every season—even if just for a short time—without too much effort.

The benefits are ongoing. A bit of exercise and fresh air. A few moments to breathe in peace, to unwind after a long day, or a trying time. Or maybe just the opportunity to revel in natural beauty. To admire the landscape. Listen to birdsong. To appreciate the wildflowers and the trees, the reflection of sunlight on water. Or, maybe relax with a good book on a park bench or a picnic blanket. And if you’ve got kids, there’s something awesome about letting them burn off some of that endless energy at a park.

​I am all for bigger adventures, road trips, and escaping to the beauty of other states, and countries. But, after more than a decade of exploring what Wisconsin has to offer, I’m still grateful for what is so wonderfully within reach. 

Our green spaces sustain us, and are a vital part of our natural ecosystem. For humans, wildlife, and every other living thing. They play an important role in keeping this planet going. Their value, to me, is immeasurable.  I’m betting you have a favorite park or nature preserve; a go-to spot for when you need that moment of peace, or to walk the dog. These spaces are personal. We count on them. We need them.

And for those days when we have more time, more energy, more ambition, our state parks and other wild spaces await. When looking for a change of scenery, there’s plenty to choose from. ​

Eastern towhee.
Eastern towhee.

Spring in Wisconsin is a thing of beauty. After months of cold, dreary weather, we finally have warmth and sunshine on deck. It’s a great time to look forward and make plans to get outside to enjoy what Wisconsin has to offer in terms of nature.

If you’re wanting to get out for a walk somewhere new to you, check out 30 Easy, Scenic Nature Walks for plenty of great ideas. If fishing is more your thing, Gone Fishing focuses on casting a reel at local community parks.

Looking to try bird watching? Let’s Go Birding will guide you into it with plenty of information for novice birders, and those who want to attract birds to their backyards as well.

Ready to step out on a rockier trail? On The Rocks will introduce you to four great parks that feature hikes along the magnificent Niagara Escarpment.


If you’re looking forward to getting back outside to enjoy the greener months of the year, start making plans to check out some awesome and easy nature trails. We’ve got 30 great reasons to put on your walking shoes. Most of these are on the shorter side. Perfect for fitting into your day without a big time commitment. Double up on a couple in the same vicinity, or add a hike to other activities you have going on in the same area. Whatever suits your style.

Egret Trail, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Area.
Egret Trail, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Area, Dodge County.
Schoen Laufen Park, Germantown, Washington County.
Schoen Laufen Park, Germantown, Washington County.

More easy, scenic nature walks on page 4 of the magazine.


Now that spring is finally settling in, I have noticed folks taking advantage of the nicer weather and doing some fishing from the shores and piers of our local parks. There’s that nostalgia wave, again. How wonderful to be able to capture a bit of summer vacation right here at home, on a random afternoon at the park.

Our local neighborhood, and bigger community parks in urban, suburban, and rural areas offer a wealth of fishing opportunities. Checkout the following gallery for 48 area fishing spots worthy of your rod and reel.

Ridge Run Park, West Bend, Washington County.
Ridge Run Park, West Bend, Washington County.
Astico County Park, Columbus.
Astico County Park, Columbus.
Washington Park, Milwaukee.
Washington Park, Milwaukee.

​For more fishing spots at Nature Preserves and State Parks and Recreation Areas, check out the full feature online or on page 9 of the magazine.


Once considered a hobby for the older set, or the nature nerds among us, birding is becoming a very popular pastime. And one that all walks of life can enjoy. It’s exciting to see birders of every age, sex, race, and ability enjoying this natural adventure. Face it, folks, bird watching is now hip. And that means good things for the birds of the world.

​The more people that engage in the enjoyment and conservation of birds and their habitat, the better. It’s one of those activities that offers instant gratification, too.

Equipment required is minimal: a pair of binoculars comes in handy, or a camera with a zoom lens. A pocket bird identification guidebook, or a bird identification smartphone app, and a notebook, if you’re keeping track of the species you see.

It's always exciting to spot a Great Blue Heron!
It’s always exciting to spot a Great Blue Heron!
Ruby-throated hummingbirds love native honeysuckle.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds love native honeysuckle.
Spring brings the return of the Baltimore oriole.
Spring brings the return of the Baltimore oriole.

More birding tips on page 13 of the magazine.


You may have already hiked along the beauty that is the Niagara Escarpment. A wide swath of this ancient natural rock formation runs northeast 230 miles through Wisconsin, beginning in the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest, up through Door County. It then travels on through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and extends east, through part of Canada, and all the way to Niagara Falls (yes, that Niagara Falls).

To experience its beauty, one does not have to go far. There are several natural spaces within an hour or so of Milwaukee. And several more within a 2-3-hour drive of the city. Some are more dramatic than others, but they all, in my opinion, are worth the journey.

Ledge View Nature Center, Chilton, Calumet County.
Ledge County Park, Dodge County.
Ledge County Park, Dodge County.

More about the Niagara Escarpment on page 20 of the magazine.

Link to The Park Next Door Magazine.

Kimberly Mackowski calls herself a nature lover, bird watcher, wildlife fan, amateur photographer, humane gardener, traveler and singer of songs. For the past ten years she has curated her website, The Park Next Door. All images courtesy Kimberly Mackowski.

8 thoughts on "The Park Next Door launches a new online magazine about nature in Wisconsin!"

  1. Darlene Hibbard says:

    This is the first time I have been aware of “The Park Next Door.” What a wealth of information. Thank you!

  2. Barbara Giese says:

    Thanks for the info on Kimberly Mackowski’s magazine. I enjoy the blogs of both you and Kimberly.
    Barbara Giese

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