Danielle St. Louis
Big Foot Beach State Park
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
At this point in our adventuring, I should have the packing of supplies down pat. But I left my house in Madison in a bit of a rush and without my raincoat and bug spray—two items that would have come in handy during this state park visit. The forecast said 30% chance of rain, but as we drove from my parents house in Milwaukee to Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva, the clouds became more and more ominous. When we checked in with the park attendant, she wasn't optimistic about our chances of staying dry. So after a quick conversation about the dog-friendly areas of the park, we made our way to a parking lot and tried to hit the trail posthaste. The park attendant was right, and our posthaste wasn't hasty enough. It started raining—first a drizzle and then a steady heavy rain—right as we picked up the trail. Thankfully my parents, Lucky and I could wait out the heaviest of the precipitation under the trees in the hardwood forest that makes up a large portion of this park. The only problem with waiting out the rain under a tree—mosquitos.
The tree canopy was thick enough that we could make progress along the trail when the rain lightened up. Then, in moments of heavier rain, we'd seek the quasi-shelter of a larger tree; and so we made our way along the Yellow and Blue Trails. When our loop took us near the Ceylon Lagoon and flush toilets, my mom took the opportunity for a pit stop, which gave us a chance to check out the bait vending machine. Even on this rainy morning, there were plenty of people out fishing in the lagoon, which must be a decent fishing hole. Whether they were purposefully or accidently discarded, Lucky sniffed out a handful of dead fish along the trail. After the pit stop by the lagoon, we walked over one of two foot bridges, and continued on the Blue Trail back to the parking lot.
Just as we got back to the parking lot, the rain intensified again. Rather than wait it out under a tree this time, we decided to go into Lake Geneva and get something to eat. Most places were just opening for brunch, so we found a spot and dried off while we waited for our order. Lucky snoozed in the car, and then later, as usual, cleaned up my leftovers.
After breakfast my parents had to take off, but Lucky and I went back to the park. Now, the sun was out, and we needed to check out the lake and some additional trails. The section of lakefront that belongs to Big Foot Beach State Park is a narrow strip of sand with an area sectioned off for swimming. The park attendant informed us the section of beach just north of the swimming area is "dog friendly," but it's also boat and jet ski friendly too. I wasn't sure how Lucky would react to these water vessels—he'd never seen a jet ski before and he'd only seen boats from afar or in parking lots on trailers. Thankfully, he was just happy to be in the water and didn't even seem to notice them.
Once Lucky became more interested in sniffing out smelly things on the beach than being in the water, I took that as our cue to get back to hiking. We opted for the long route around the perimeter of the park, which took us over the second of the two footbridges, through the hardwood forest, a patch of conifers, and finally a restored prairie. It was getting hotter and muggier by the minute, so we stopped frequently for water breaks. By the time we got back to the car, we were both ready for some air conditioning and a nap. Lucky got right to the nap, and I treated myself to a slushy frozen lemonade for the drive back to my parents' place.
Want more information about hiking with your dog at Big Foot Beach State Park? Order your copy of A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks now!
Through the University of Wisconsin Press site.
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