Five Reasons Hartman Creek State Park Should Be Your Next Adventure

Hartman Creek is the most versatile state park I have been too within an hour of Appleton! During the two hours I spent there exploring and watching all the different activities going on there I was truly in shock with how much potential this park has to so many people. So, the whole point of writing this is to give you the insight you need to get out there and experience this truly awe-inspiring place! I had the opportunity to visit with my girlfriend this fall, and our journey was great.

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Hiking

At Hartman Creek the beauty of their hiking trails is spectacular! I had the personal opportunity to hike these awesome trails. My favorite ran right along the water, and gave us an amazing view of Allen lake and the number of trails is enough for you to hike all day if that’s what you desire to do. But I highly suggest going in the fall, the true beauty of all the fall colors on your hike is amazing. Just looking across the lake and seeing the trees filled with oranges and reds is sure to drop your jaw in awe.

Fishing

Hartman Creek has some amazing fishing! We know that’s the truth because Hartman Creek was once a fish hatchery before it was even a state park! Fun fact! Plus, all the lakes around it are all spring fed. That makes for great fishing! You can expect to catch largemouth bass, perch (my favorite), blue gill, and other types of panfish. There are four lakes to choose from at Hartman Creek: Lake Allen, Lake Hartman, Lake Grebe, and Lake Middle. Along with that if you don’t have fishing gear you can rent it for free right at Hartman Creek! If you end up going to Hartman Creek don’t forget your fishing License.

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Winter Activities

Winter is just as much fun at Hartman Creek as the fall and summer are. You have winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking trails! When snowshoeing you have free reign to venture off the trials or stay right on path. There are six miles of cross-country skiing trails and three and a half miles of snowshoeing trails! That’s a lot of winter wonderland to explore!

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IMG_9592-2Kayaking/Canoeing

Kayakers can launch from Manomin Lake and paddle through Pope Lake, and Marl Lake. Don’t forget to stop and look at the crystal clear water and all the amazing red and orange colors from the trees surrounding each lake.  Then you can stop and have a lunch break at Whispering Pines picnic area!

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Swimming

Hartman Creek provides an amazing 300 foot sand beach which is great to bring your family to or go on a date! What’s even better is that the beach is right next to a three acre, multi use area which is perfect for social games like spike ball and bags or just having grill outs and getting together with family and friends for the weekend! Along with that if you’re from further out of town, they have plenty of camping sites for tents and Trailers!

From hiking to swimming and all the things in between you can clearly see how amazing Hartman Creek is. Not only a great stop during the spring and summer, but a place to explore all year long. So why not head out to Hartman Creek for an adventure?

11 September Events in the Fox Cities You Don’t Want to Miss

Blog Image Events in the Fox Cities - September 2018

Maybe you have kids, they’re now back to school, and the family is back into the comfortable groove of daily routine. Fall is near, and the crisp smell and feeling of winter looming. Thoughts of family and fresh dinner rolls loom in your mind. Maybe you don’t have kids, maybe you are going to school, college or high school. You’re back, the excitement of friends and a new chapter surround your daily life. EVEN if you have no kids in your life in any form, maybe you’re a young professional, a retired soul, or you just take life easy, September is a time of change. Event though September’s rain and temperatures are unpredictable, there are still events and opportunities for fun and community for all types of people, especially you! Which is why we made this list, to make sure you at least know what you’re potentially missing out on.

Seafood Fest – Friday & Saturday September 7th & 8th

Take the wildly successful, monthly Fox Valley Food Truck Rally that happens all summer at Jefferson Park in Menasha, and add two days of live music and lobster and salmon dinners from 4pm-9pm! If you love music and seafood by the water, this event may be for you!

Eve of Destruction – Friday September 7th

At the Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna is the annual Eve of Destruction event. From 7pm-10pm, you can expect a monster truck show and rides, extreme freestyle motocross, figure 8 racing, two man crew racing, pyrotechnics, and fireworks. $12/person entry. Expect an intense night of family fun! More details here.

Eve of Destruction 2017
2017 Eve of Destruction. Credit: Instagram @mayrae009

Green Bay & Oshkosh: Summer Send-Off Scavenger Hunt & Bar Crawl – Friday September 7th & 8th

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the end of summer with your friends? Venture Wisconsin has scavenger hunt bar crawl events in Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Appleton on September 7th, 8th, and 14th respectively. These events line up with the syllabus week for each city’s university. The goal is to welcome the students to join the community over some beers. Sponsored by Fox River Brewing, the events include drink deals and activities at each bar, and a photo scavenger hunt with prizes for the winning teams. $16 to register ahead or $20 to register at the door for each event if you wait until the last minute. Register by purchasing a shirt for your city at this link.

Bazaar After Dark Night Market – Menasha – Wednesday September 12th

The popular Bazaar After Dark series is taking place in Downtown Menasha for their final event of 2018! Don’t miss your last chance to join this night market and see what the buzz is about. You can expect a food truck rally (16+ trucks), crafts, food, and more!

Bazaar After Dark
Bazaar After Dark. Source: Fox Cities Magazine

Brew at the Zoo and Wine, Too – Thursday September 13th

This is a fundraising event at the NEW Zoo in Green Bay. From 5:30pm to 8:30pm there will be 70 different craft brews, wines, and non-alcoholic drinks to sample while raising money for conservation. Unlimited tasting, $35 to participate. Buy tickets here!

Appleton Summer Send-Off Scavenger Hunt & Bar Crawl – Friday September 14th

Celebrate the end of summer, join us for drinks, games, Blu Bobber and a photo scavenger hunt. Just like the Oshkosh and Green Bay events, you purchase a shirt to register. In Appleton we have Player 2, D2, OB’s Brau Haus, The Bar, Jim’s Place, and Mill Creek. Activities include Bobbing for Blu Bobber, Bags, Flip Cup, N64, photo station, and Hammerschlagen, plus the scavenger hunt! Purchase your shirt here to register. $16 ahead of time, $20 at the event!

Oshkosh Biking Brewery Tour: Final Ride

A 14 mile bike loop around Oshkosh along all of the main water ways with three stops! Fox River Brewing Co, Fifth Ward Brewing, and Bare Bones Brewery. Ride with us or ride with your friends. Enjoy $1 off pints at Bare Bones and Fifth Ward, a logoed glass from Fox River Brewing, games, giveaways, and fun! Tickets are $15 and you get a mixed six pack of Oshkosh beer, two from each brewery. Buy your tickets in advance here. $20 at the event.

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Touring Oshkosh Local Breweries

1st Annual Harvest Fest – Sunday September 16th

Bluegrass music, new local draft beers, an art fair, and a new special harvest menu at The Source Public House in Menasha! Visit The Source and enjoy the food, drinks, and art. Free entry event.

Brews, Bistros & Bonfires – Friday September 21st

Taking place at the Green Bay Botanical Garden is a cozy night of local brewery samplings and local food while you enjoy The Ultimate Steele Dan Tribute Band, the glow of the fire, and the fall air. More details here.

Appleton’s Octoberfest (37th annual) – Saturday September 29th

Self proclaimed, “Appleton’s largest block party.” All profits go to community projects, charities, and events. 100+ food vendors and live music throughout College Ave. Free entry event.

Too White Crew at Appleton Octoberfest
Credit: Too White Crew

Barktoberfest (During Octoberfest) – Saturday September 29th

A free fun event for humans and their pups. There is costume contest. Categories include: Kids and Dogs, Most Original, and Best Theme. Trophies for “Best Trick for a Treat.” There will be dog beer, pretzels, and cigars. As well as “Yappy Hour” from 1pm-4pm. This event takes place at the DePawsitory in Appleton during Octoberfest!


Just because summer is turning into fall doesn’t mean there isn’t ample opportunity to have fun with your family, friends, and community! We hope you find an event that fits your schedule and peaks your interest. Please share this list with your friends, and let us know if we missed any events in the Fox Cities that your are excited for September 2018!

 

11 Fun Hangouts in The Fox Cities This Winter Break

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If you live in Wisconsin, you’ve no doubt had a conversation and either defended or cursed the Wisconsin winter. Although we agree that the winters can get dragging and sometimes make it difficult to get out of bed, we at Venture Wisconsin know that Wisconsin winters are what you make of them. If you are looking for ways to not be bored this 2017-2018 winter season, here are some suggestions to start getting you into the season.

1. See Larry the Cable Guy

Oshkosh just built an awesome new stadium next to Lake Winnebago for their new basketball team. The benefits of that new stadium are opportunities for awesome live events. Live events like Larry the Cable Guy! Buy tickets and watch The Cable Guy live on January 27th.

2. Candlelight Hikes Through the Woods

Hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski through Northeast Wisconsin’s landscapes via candle light. A few state parks, nature centers, and public lands are hosting candlelight hikes and walks like this through January, including: Navarino Nature CenterHartman Creek State Park, and Horicon Marsh. Check out this link for DNR sponsored candlelight walks across the state this winter.

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3. Keep warm with a show at the PAC

The PAC has a few events this winter. Most notably The King and I and The Nutcracker. Either way, it’s worth checking out. Buy a friend tickets to go with you to a show this winter or plan a date night!

4. Go to the Green Bay Garden of Lights

Bring some friends to the classic Green Bay Botanical gardens for their annual Garden of Lights. It’s their 21st year of operation in Green Bay, and they have some special events this year.

5. View Christmas Lights with Your Friends

Warm up the car and take your friends on a cruise around the Fox Valley or Northeast Wisconsin in general checking out some of the awesome Christmas decorations that people work on. Go Valley Kids even made it easy, they have a list of the best lights in town here.

6. Watch a Laser Light Show at Barlow Planetarium

Barlow has a great variety of popular music and holiday based light shows. Some of the music shows include classic albums like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, or groups of artists like their Laser Tribute, which features the mega hits of music superstars of the past that have passed away. Either way, at $10, it’s a new experience to have while the weather outside is below freezing.

7. Go Ice Skating

You could skate at indoor locations like Memorial Park in Appleton, or you could head up to Green Bay and check out the new Titletown Skate Rink near Lambeau Field! The outdoor skate rink resembles something that you would see in Chicago, and is definitely worth checking out.

8. Remember Bowling?

For some people bowling is what they do. Many who aren’t in bowling leagues often don’t think of bowling when looking for things to do. The Fox Cities has a good number of bowling alleys waiting for you to visit.

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Bowling. Remember how fun it is?

9. Visit the Theater

Visit one of the local movie theaters this winter and enjoy the newly updated recliners at many of the locations.

10. Go Cross-Country Skiing

Nature spots on the West side of Lake Winnebago are pretty easy to count on both hands, and many of them have cross-country skiing available. There are many more places for cross country skiing once you go east of Lake Winnebago. Here is a list to check out. We recommend the Reforestation Camp in Green Bay by the NEW Zoo.

11. Go to One of Northeast Wisconsin’s Museums

If you are stuck inside and want to get out on your day off, check out one of Northeast Wisconsin’s niche museums. Northeast Wisconsin doesn’t have much outside of the Appleton History Museum and Neville Public Museum for regular exhibit museums. NE Wisconsin does however, have many crazy weird niche museums focusing on things like paper, paper weights, airplanes, railroads, many artists, and more. For some museums you can check out this list.

8 Outdoor Things to do in Door County that the Tourists Don’t Know About

In 2016, I was a kayak tour guide for the summer. I lived among the locals for 3 months, and while there, I decided that I would find unknown or underappreciated gems in the county. Although this is a good list of some of the hidden gems in Door County, I had to leave a couple secret beaches out for the locals to continue to enjoy. So it looks like you’ll have to do some more digging if you want more true hidden gems. For now, enjoy these secrets of Door County that most tourists never find.

Door County Land Trusts

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Land Trust in Ephraim! Credit: Door County Land Trust

Starting with the Land Trusts is crucial. These are truly hidden gems! There are 14 land trusts in Door County, which are just pieces of land set aside for the public to enjoy that keep the native nature and wildlife in tact. These are all unique ecosystems with diffhttps://wordpress.com/post/venturewisconsin.blog/1690erent sights and trails to see. The Land Trusts are run by a non-governmental organization which is why they are under advertised.

Cana Island Light House

One of Door County’s 11 lighthouses (the third most lighthouses in any US county.) Being off the beaten path and on an island on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, Cana Island is not as well advertised of an attraction. If you want a unique Door County experience, walk across the land bridge and explore the Cana Island light house!

Newport State Park

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Newport Nightsky. Photo by Denny Moutray

It’s hard to call a state park a hidden gem, but of the FIVE state parks in Door County, Newport State Park is the least know among tourists. A mile or two off the beaten path, Newport is actually IDA certified as a Dark Skies Park and Wisconsin’s only wilderness-designated state park. What that means is that Newport is a huge nature reserve that has very limited infrastructure, so that visitors can get a genuine nature experience!

Mink River Estuary

The Mink River almost cuts through the northern tip of the Door Peninsula. Located just West of Newport State park, the river is spring fed and runs into Rawley’s Bay. A Ramsar certified Wetlands of International Importance. Click the link and ctrl+f “Door County Coastal Wetlands.” The Mink River can be toured via your own kayak or canoe or rented from local companies. The Mink river is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, and is very pristine. SECRET: A hidden gem within a hidden gem is the grass beach and the only public place where you can access the Mink from land! Click the link for approximate directions!

Europe Beach

Another hidden gem on the East side of the peninsula, Europe Bay, Europe Lake, and Europe Beach are basically attached to Newport State Park on the north end. If you visit, you will find an intense and well maintained beach that overlooks the vast Lake Michigan. You will also find peace and quiet. This beach is much less visited, so if you visit the area, especially during the week, you may be visiting it alone. At least with many less people than say, Peninsula State Park’s beach. As for Europe Lake, it joins Clark Lake and Kangaroo Lake as the three impounded lakes of Door County. What’s an impounded lake? You’ll have to visit the nature centers and ask! Mention Venture Wisconsin if you ask. 🙂

Garrett Bay

I would argue Garrett Bay is in the top 3 for hidden gems on this list. It is a small, quick stop that has something for everybody. Just a mile-ish off the main path (Hwy 42), Garrett Bay has a public boat launch where you can skip perfectly flat rocks at the stone beach, launch you kayak, or just look across the bay at the Deathdoor Bluff. If you do bring a kayak or book a tour of the bay with a local kayak tour company, you will find the Fleetwing Shipwreck right off the shore and an amazing view of Door Bluff County Park and the rest of Door County to once you get around the corner. (If you read this far and are wondering which corner, it’s around the left corner.)

Door Bluff County Park

Right next to Garrett Bay, Door Bluff County Park is the hidden gem version of Ellison Bluff County Park. (Another kind of hidden gem you should check out.) The cliffs of limestone become more prominent as you travel north on the peninsula. So naturally Peninsula State Park is not the only spot where you can catch a beautiful bluff. Drive to the flat stone beach at Garrett Bay, skip some stones, and drive 2 minutes to the park to see trails less traveled and a unique perspective of Lake Michigan.

Pick Thimbleberries

Thimble berries are unique to the great lakes region, and are relatively unknown within the general public as they are not sold at many market places. These sweet red berries are widespread in the norther half of Door County. If you are a visitor, a common place you will find them and didn’t even know it is Whitefish Dunes State Park along the hiking trails! Note: They are very soft, so don’t be concerned if you think they are too ripe.

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This is what Thimbleberries look like!

This article should be titled, “The Lake Michigan side of Door County.” Most of the larger towns, shops, and attractions are on the Green Bay side of the Door Peninisula, so don’t be afraid to explore the East side and use these suggestions as an excuse! I hope you like this list and at least check out a few of these awesome things to do outside while you visit one of the Midwest’s favorite touring regions! If I missed any or you try them out, and want to share your tips and experiences with others looking for the less traveled trails of  let me know in the comments.

10 Outdoor Activities to Get You Outside… That Aren’t Hiking

Forest Floor

Even the most seemingly boring places that you may live in this world have parks, trails, and natural areas full of potential and unique wildlife. The reason people don’t visit new parks, nature and wildlife areas, and trails is the same reason people don’t read blog posts word for word, it’s not convenient enough for our instant world. A great way to have the desire to explore new places more often, is to have something to do when you get there. Here are some suggestions of activities and hobbies that you can adopt to motivate you to utilize the outdoor areas in your local area.

Don’t just read the headers, find an activity that jumps out at you and plan a day trip around it for next weekend!

1. Climbing

Climbing can be as professional and dedicated as rock climbing or as simple as finding trees to climb. Climbing a good tree is a childhood activity that gets put on the “adults don’t do this” shelf, and really can be a fun way to interact with nature. Exercise caution while climbing, and climb within your abilities.

2. Hammock

If you don’t like exercise, you like to push the boundaries of extreme leisure, or you just enjoy relaxing, hammocking is a great and low key way of getting outdoors more often.

Hammocking/Extreme Leisure Over a Cliff
Extreme Leisure. Photo by Sebastian Wahlhuetter Photography

3. Canoe or Kayak

If you or a family member don’t already have one, a canoe or kayak can turn a local river, even a brook or stream into a new adventure. You can always get a cheap or inflatable kayak or buy a used boat if you’re budget is low.

4. Swim (Be creative)

As with many of these outdoor activities, the more you do any activity, the more doors open to do more of everything. This happens by being becoming more creative and in better shape. For swimming, you don’t need always need a beach, but you may have to become more comfortable with silt or water that isn’t quite as warm as a hot tub. Swimming creatively could involve a ledge dive, cliff dive, skinny dip, or Frisbee. Be creative and careful and you won’t be disappointed. Skinny dip only where it is legal of course.

5. Slackline

All you need is a heavy duty truck strap and two trees to go and slackline. This is another easy activity that can scale as simple or extreme as you’d like.

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Slacklining

6. Fishing

Fishing is a popular way of getting outdoors for its enthusiasts, but anyone with a license can fish with an old pole, a bobber, and a worm. You can use a boat or fish off the shore. Fishing is a great way to combine two activities. You can fish from the hammock, fish from the kayak, or hike to a fishing spot.

7. Hunting

Although expensive and not for everyone, hunting or trapping is a great way to get in touch with nature and be outside. Especially a good activity during the colder months leading into winter.

8. Break Out a Camera

Taking pictures is a great excuse to get outside and appreciate the small details of nature. If you don’t like hunting or it’s out of season, photography is a great excuse to sit in a blind and wait for animals to show themselves. You don’t need a DSLR or professional setup. Go out and use your phone or digital camera that’s been in your cabinet since 2007.

Girl holding a camera.
Source: Pexels

9. Biking

Biking is limited to trails if you respect the landscape, but consider looking up mountain biking trails in your area or planning a trip. You never know what you’ll find.

10. Wading, Snow Shoeing, or Cross Country Skiing

These are mixed season suggestions, but trudging through a body of water and walking or gliding on snow is a creative way to have fun, see new things, and be outdoors. Once again you can combing these with other activities like photography and fishing.


Here are ten of unlimited activities that can give you an excuse to visit your local parks and small natural areas. This is a list of things that you can do just about anywhere.

Let us know your favorite outdoor activities. They may even be featured in our next post.

 

 

7 Unique Outdoor Things Near Oshkosh

I have lived in the Fox Cities my whole life, and it seems like many locals don’t know about the outdoor activities and other hidden spots that Northeast Wisconsin has to offer. To see some more of these secret gems and other unique finds in the Fox Cities, join our newsletter at ratedventure.com. Otherwise, here are seven outdoor gems within a hour of Oshkosh that you may not have heard of.

1. Hiking at Bubolz Nature Preserve (Appleton, 27 min)

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Source: Bubolz Nature Preserve Facebook Page

There are 8.5 miles of trails at Bubolz to hike at the tucked away nature escape just a few minutes north of Appleton. This nature preserve is operated by a nonprofit company, and has a very well done website where you can find their trail conditions and educational events.

2. Biking The Fond Du Lac Loop (Fond Du Lac, 27 min)

Recently Fond Du Lac built a giant biking and hiking loop around the city. A great way to get to know the area surrounding Oshkosh. Over 15 miles of trail in all!

3. Tubing The Wolf River (New London, 44 min)

This is less of a secret, but still a great outdoor activity close to Oshkosh and the Fox Cities that many aren’t aware of. Most visit Wolf River Trips to journey down the river with friends because they provide rental tubes and a ride to two different launch sites.

4. Hike or Camp at North Kettle Moraine Forest (Cascade, 53 min)

The Kettle Moraine Forest is more known for its proximity to Milwaukee, but the northern section of the forest is within an hour of Oshkosh and offers many trails including a section of the statewide Ice Age Trail. As well there are plenty of camping areas in the 30,000 acre northern unit.

5. Waterfall at Fonferek Glen County Park (Green Bay, 54 min)

In middle of a farm in Green Bay you can find a beautiful glen and a waterfall tucked away along the stream. A pretty cool hidden secret of the Fox Cities.

RatedVenture Waterfalls in the Fox Cities
Source goodfreephotos.com

6. Skiing or Mountain Biking at Nordic Mountain (Wild Rose, 55 min)

Nordic is also less of a secret. It is well known among the Fox Cities, but is still a great place to check out if you never considered downhill skiing as an option for fun in winter.  Or if you want to take your mountain biking skills to the next level after you’ve tried “Oh Deer” during summer.

7. Hiking and Wildlife Viewing at Collins Marsh (Reedsville, 55 min)images-duckduckgo-com

Collins Marsh hosts an observation tower over 100 feet tall. Offering the view of one of the lesser known outdoor activities near Lake Winnebago. Collins Marsh is a great place to bird watch, snow shoe, and canoe.