On August 8, I visited the most newly developed State Park and the oldest. The newest is Straight Lake State Park, near Luck in the northwest corner of the state.
Straight Lake is fully contained within the 2,066 acre park. So is Rainbow Lake. I hiked the trails in the Rainbow Lake area. Overall, the park has 8.5 miles of trails. The Ice Age Trail meanders for 5.5 miles though the park.
I was there on a Thursday, probably not the busiest hiking day of the year. But, it was a beautiful summer day. Despite that, I believe I was the only human in the park. (Mosquitoes, on the other hand, were far too numerous to count.) I had the trails all to myself. There was evidence that trail work had recently been done on maybe a half-mile of the Rainbow Lake Trail Loop. The trail toes through the forest, and on that stretch, the leaves had been cleared from the trail. No problem whatsoever finding and following the trail.
Even where the leaves hadn’t been cleared away, the trail was easy to follow. The trails are well-marked, with map signs strategically placed.
There are picnic tables and a nice shelter along the Rainbow Lake shore. I expect even on a relatively “busy” day at the park, this would be a pretty quiet place to stop for lunch. There are carry-in boat launches on both lakes. Probably a good place to fish — but that’s clearly not my sport. Not enough patience for it!
The park has 10 walk-in campsites. According to the park brochure, the hiking distance to campsites varies from a few hundred yards to a quarter mile. The map shows that the sites are quite dispersed. If being undisturbed while camping is a priority, this would be the park to visit.
And, if you’re interested in geology, the Department of Natural Resources website has a nice “Geology Hiking Guide for the Ice Age Trail — Straight Lake State Park Area.” While there are not dramatic rock formations, the guide does describe kettles and hummocks — and kettle lakes between the hummocks. To me, pretty interesting stuff!
There is no park office. There is a shop building (not for public access), and a couple of nice vault toilets. Camping registration is done at a self-registration station. Straight Lake is certainly not a commercialized park. While it is “developed,” the development is minimal — trails, campsites, picnic tables and vault toilets. It is secluded, quiet and pretty.