The big news this weekend will be the weather. Temps in the 40s for the next couple of days will make a great opportunity to get outside this weekend to explore the trails, go ice fishing or join in on one of the park’s family events.
The park doesn’t check the ice thickness on the lake, so you should always use caution when going out on the ice, especially during these warming trends. Last weekend the ice was over a 12 inches thick in some areas and as of now, folks are still driving their trucks, cars, and ATVs out on the ice. You can expect the surface to be wet and slippery. 2 days ago I walked through water about an inch deep flowing on the surface. The video below is from last Monday morning, you can probably expect more of this over the weekend.
Expect areas of the trails to be ice-covered, wet and slippery depending on location and time of day. Use caution on the staircases and around the cliffs on the bluff trails. We recommend having cleats with you. Also just a reminder, the Steinke Basin Loop Trail is now designated as a multi-use trail, open to all non-motorized users (hikers, walkers, skiers, snowshoers). Pets, of course, must be on a leash at all times!
Scavenger Hunt – The park nature center will be putting on one of their popular family scavenger hunts this Saturday from 10 am to 2:30 pm. Families will receive a set of clues to go on a scavenger hunt. Each family will need to work as a team as they hike the trails to complete this challenge! Some challenges require a GPS unit (provided by the Nature Center) and make sure to bring your camera! You’ll receive a small prize for completing one of the challenges. Pick up your clues at the Nature Center, then head out for an adventure!
Winter Star Party – Saturday evening is the make-up date for the park’s Winter Star Party. Drop in Between 7:00 – 9:30 pm just behind the Rock Elm Shelter near the North Shore Boat Launch. There will be two telescopes on hand. I took a moment to check the astronomy forecast and while none of the planets will be visible this time, we can zoom in on the waxing gibbous moon, hunt for some binocular-viewable star clusters, and check out Sirius, the brightest star in the winter sky. This will also be an opportunity to check out some star apps and just hang out by a fire. Good times!
Meanwhile in Baraboo
Winterfest Fun Run – Oh yes, and don’t forget that Baraboo Parks & Rec’s annual Annual 5K (3.1 mile) Fun Run is on Saturday As well. The event starts at 10:30 am at the Baraboo Civic Center. You can get more information here.
Each Wednesday on social media we share photos, videos or info featuring our local wildlife. This week we were able to get out and check all of our Devil’s Lake State Park “Critter Cams” and had some interesting results. Over the last month or so we caught images of coyotes, deer, raccoons, opossums, and squirrels and more. My favorite trail cam video from this set actually had no critters in it, however, you never know what you’ll hear at 4 am on a cold winter night… Awesome!
While we’re talking about wildlife… We also captured a very blurry picture of a fisher right where we had discovered tracks a few weeks earlier. That’s one way to verify track IDs!! Fishers are members of the weasel family, similar to the marten, but bigger. In Wisconsin, reports show Fischer numbers are generally below population goals and larger numbers are “harvested” in the south where the populations are lower anyway.** So it’s actually pretty lucky to see signs of one at the park.
Here are some of the park photos we shared this week;
There are weeks when TGIF really means something! I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to let this week go by! It feels like I’ve hardly left my desk, which totally sucks for an outdoorsy person!! I would like to remind you that if you really want to camp at Devil’s Lake State Park this summer, it’s getting late to reserve popular summer weekends and in just a few weeks prices will most likely be going up. So reserve now or maybe now is the time to check out our many local private campgrounds! I know it doesn’t feel like it, but summer is right around the corner!
Have fun this weekend, spend time with family if you can, and be safe!