As summer takes full swing, many of us turn to the great outdoors to fill our days with adventure. We are fortunate to live in a part of the state with so many options. Between the trails, lakes, and parks, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy the natural world. I want to highlight a few of my favorite spots.


The Adam Birding Conservancy is a beautiful 331-acre mix of prairie, wetland and woods alongside the Bark River, about three miles north of Whitewater. In the spring, the river overflows its banks creating an optimal habitat for migratory waterfowl. This sanctuary is also home to pheasants, turkey, deer, badgers, coyote, and more.


The Conservancy is home to a wide variety of plants, sedges, and trees, both native and invasive. Because the conservancy is on private land, you will need permission to access it by going to their website, As long as you agree to respect the land, you can visit as often as you’d like.


Lake Koshkonong is a great place to spend a hot day. The lake is over 10,000 square feet with a maximum depth of seven feet, making it ideal for boating, swimming, and other water sports. The lake can be accessed from public beaches, like at Lakeland campground, and the public boat landings, including ones at Vinnie Haha Road and at the Royce-Dallman Park.


I am working with Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism Anne Sayers and local businesses to create additional public access points. If you enjoy fishing, you can find catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky, northern pike, and walleye. Large and smallmouth bass are especially plentiful this time of year.


Jefferson County is home to over 19 miles of hiking trails and 35 miles of biking trails. For those near Fort Atkinson and the City of Jefferson, I recommend Rose Lake State Natural Area’s hiking trails. Surrounded by wetlands, these trails provide a fantastic view of the lake and all of its diverse wildlife. The trails are home to a complex variety of aquatic plants, which provide an important breeding habitat for rare native birds, such as the sandhill crane and great blue heron.


For those in the Palmyra-Eagle area, the Emma Carlin and John Muir trails offer excursions for all levels of hiking and biking. The Emma Carlin offers 3 color-coded loops. The Brown Loop offers an easy 3.5-mile hike through the lowlands. The Orange Loop is a bit a trickier, offering a 6-mile climb with a rewarding overlook on top. For those looking for a challenge, the Green Loop delivers an 8-mile hike with difficult ups and downs throughout.


The John Muir loops include an easy Brown Loop, covering a flat, 1.25-mile hike. It also offers a more moderate White loop with rocky ups and downs over the course of 4.25 miles. Finally, it has 4 difficult trails, ranging from the Rain Dew Bypass, which sits at 4.7 miles, to the Blue Loop, which is 12 miles of rocky, steep hills. Bikers and ambitious hikers can travel every loop and the connectors between these trail systems, covering over 40 miles of difficult terrain.


For information on outdoor recreational opportunities all across the state, go to There you will find guides on biking, parks, golf courses, rustic roads, campgrounds, ATV trails, and more. All travel guides are free. With summer upon us, now is the perfect time to see what our great state has to offer.

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