14. Big Foot Beach State Park

14. Big Foot Beach State Park

Sunday of the long Fourth of July weekend was a pretty busy time for the beach part of Big Foot Beach State Park. Boats were tied up all along the beach, and there were lots and lots of people in the water. It was a perfect day to go to the beach.

On the other side of the road, where the rest of the park is, it was a pretty quiet day. The 271 acre park has six miles of hiking trails. I hiked many of the trails, although some of the trails in the wooded section of the park were closed because they were just too wet to hike. (The trails around and through the prairie were in great shape.) I saw a total of one other hiker. There was also a maintenance worker on one of the prairie trails.

choke cherries
A little color in the prairie. Maybe choke cherries. Or, maybe not.

Clearly, the name says it all — this is Big Foot Beach State Park. And, it looks like a fine beach. I’m not much of a beach person. I was more interested in the hiking trails.

The park is entirely within the city limits of Lake Geneva, a very busy tourist area in southeast Wisconsin, about an hour and a half from Madison. And, less than two hours from Chicago. As I was leaving the park mid-afternoon, the traffic on the road that goes through Lake Geneva was intense. Fortunately, the vast majority of people were heading South, while I was heading North.

I don’t know if the out-of-state tourists spend much time at the state park. There are a lot of tourist attractions in the Lake Geneva area. It is a nice, public beach on the lake, which probably accounts for the number of people using the beach.

Because the big draw here is the beach, the rest of the park is pretty quiet and doesn’t seem to be heavily used. There’s a campground (100 campsites), nice picnic area and play area for kids. There’s also a pretty lagoon on the “park” as opposed to “beach” side of the park. The lagoon is in the photo at the top of this post. The beach is on the other side of the road that’s in the photo.

In terms of hiking, the prairie is probably the main attraction. It looks like a fair amount of work has been done to restore and maintain it. The woodland area trails are fairly typical of Wisconsin woodlands, with some marsh areas interspersed in the woods. There’s not much elevation change at this park, so hiking is pretty easy. At least when I was there, the trails were not heavily used. There are markers for cross country skiers. Given the relative flatness of the park, it’d be a good place for beginner skiers.