Three Perfect Days:
Outdoor Winter Activities
Ahh, winter in Wisconsin... Where the days are crisp, cold, and usually very snowy. While you may want to snuggle with a blanket and binge on your favorite Netflix series, there is a beautiful world out there -- especially here in Menomonie. There are plenty of outdoor spaces that this town provides us with to participate in our favorite winter activities. With proper appreciation and care, these spaces will be here for many future winter-loving generations. Some of these activities may even turn into annual events for your family and friends. Even if some of these activities aren't your cup of tea, there are plenty to choose from and resources--both local and online-- to help you fulfill your winter dreams, even if you don't have all of the equipment, passes, or maps you may need. Along the journey, you will likely meet other nature loving individuals who might be local or from out of town. You may learn from, teach, or just have a good chat with them. Enjoying a little friendly competition--whether as a fan or a competitor-- will give you an adrenaline rush that will keep you excited, even in the cold. For those uninterested in competition, there are plenty of relaxing things do that will give you time to soak in the beauty of the outdoors and reflect on your experience together, here in Menomonie. We hope you find these winter activities as perfect as we do!
Make a Snowman
Who doesn't love making the most out of all the snow on the ground and getting a little competitive while you do it? You can either bring scarves, mittens, hats, carrots, and coal from home or you can stop in at Walmart or local thrift stores to pick up supplies. Then take a trip to one of the parks in Menomonie to start building—tall, small, wide, or plump. Put on a competition to see who builds the coolest one, and make sure to take pictures. Before you head out of town be sure to stop back and pick up your belongings so you can use them for future snowman contests. If you weren't planning on keeping the supplies, you can drop them off as a donation to Stepping Stones who will gladly give them to someone in need of warm winter clothing. Some of the local parks you could stop at include Wakanda Park, Wilson Creek Park, Lakeside Park, Phelan or Sanna Park. To see a map to find a route to get to these locations, click here.
Post-glacial flooding created this natural beauty- a gem hidden in the woods in Southern Menomonie. The Devil’s Punchbowl is a common hot-spot for bird-watchers, hikers, and adventurers at heart. There is a whimsical story that comes along with this punchbowl- there are stories of unusual phenomena which include the sightings of ghosts, fairies, gnomes, and trolls. Regardless of whether you’re there for the natural beauty or to see if you can find fairies and ghosts, it is worth the trip! You may run into some other explorers while stopping in; ask them about any strange sightings they’ve seen, or any bird sightings if that is more your forte. Outdoor nature lovers are very friendly here in Menomonie. Make sure to bring your camera along for beautiful photos! If you are going here as a winter activity, be sure to be careful—there are plenty of stairs and if conditions are icy, then the stairs are likely slippery as well, so visit with caution.
The address of the Devil’s Punchbowl is 410th Street, Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751.
Dinner on the Lake
To cap off your first night in Menomonie, enjoy a nice meal out on the ice. If you caught some fish, take the time to prepare it on a portable stove, available for $6-$8 from Stout Adventures. A meal doesn't get much more fresh than that! Stop by Marketplace Foods, Dick's Fresh Market, Cut-Rite Meats, or the Menomonie Co-op to pick up some seasoning and other necessities. Enjoy the deliciousness that culminated from your hard work. Take some time to reflect on your day while the fish is sizzling on the grill. If the fish didn't seem to be biting or the night got too chilly, head on into the Waterfront Bar & Grill. Dig in to a variety of choices, all while viewing the beautiful Lake Menomin through their large bay windows. Ask your server if they have any recommendations, as they know what is best on the menu. You may find your new favorite meal and meet some new friends!
Lake Menomin has several types of fish that are available to catch in the lake. Fishing in Wisconsin does require a license, which is $8 per day or $20 annually, if you are over the age of 18. Purchasing a license is easy and can be done online here. Not only is ice fishing a great way to experience the outdoors, it allows for you to bond with others over the thrill of catching fish. While you are out on the lake, take some time to chat with other fishermen, as you never know what kind of tips or stories they could share. The lake itself is 1,009 acres and houses Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye. In order for the fish population to flourish there are some regulations on what fish can be kept, and that information can be found here.
To kick off the weekend in Menomonie, and get your heart-rate up, try snowshoeing! There is an ungroomed trail perfect for your adventures located in Downsville and reaching the intersection of the Chippewa State River Trail. Race one another to your destination, or take the time to reflect on the beauty of Dunn County. In order to access the trails, a $5 pass is required for use and available from the Wisconsin DNR. If you are looking to try snowshoeing for the first time, and do not own a pair, Stout Adventures have them available to rent. If you are a UW-Stout student, there is a $5 fee per day, and if not, the shoe rental fee is $8. This is a great resource open to all individuals that is also very affordable. You can find the Stout Adventures here.
Braaaapp! Dunn County has plenty of beautiful trails for you to cruise through on your snowmobiles! Right in Menomonie two miles of the Red Cedar State Trail is open for snowmobiling from the junction of the Chippewa River State Trail north over to County Road Y, and it also connects to other county snowmobile trails. There are trail maps available at local business that are on the trail and at the Menomonie Visitors Center. Even if you don’t need a trail map, you could stop in at local businesses for a little break to warm up, meet some of the locals, and see what goods they are selling. If you are planning ahead, you can go to this website for a downloadable map you can print out. Make sure you remember to get your Wisconsin snowmobile trail pass either online, by clicking here or at any DNR sales agent. It lasts for an entire year and only costs $30. Be sure to check on trail closings before heading out. And while out riding, keep the trails clean and try not to tear it up to ensure that they are available and in great shape for future snowmobilers.
This page was designed by Alexa Peters and Aerin Kerfoot.
There is not a much better way to start your Saturday than with a game of hockey. If your trip happens to fall on the first weekend of February, you are in luck. The ice on Lake Menomonin will be filled with students and hockey fans galore. This event is favored by Stout Alum who often make the journey back to campus just to participate in the festivities. The Pond Hockey tournament features multiple teams facing off. It is a great event to socialize with others as you can share your favorite hockey memories with other fans. If you miss out on the hockey game or prefer skating indoors, do not fret! There is the Fanetti Arena located in the Dunn County Recreation Park. They offer free skating in their indoor facility during the winter months.
Cross Country Skiing
Who’s up for some cross country skiing to start the day off right? During the winter, the Red Cedar State Trail grooms seven miles for skiing from Menomonie to Downsville. This portion of the trail is dedicated to skiing only, so you don’t have to worry about obstacles like snowshoers, hikers, or people walking their pets. That means you can spend the morning enjoying the beautiful scenery without having to worry about anyone seeing you fall—well, anyone not skiing, that is. If you’re not super experienced in skiing, you may run into some experts on the trails who could give you tips and tricks. If you are over the age of 16, be sure to get your state trail pass before using the groomed section of the trail, which you can look into by clicking here. Keep in mind that a daily pass is only $5, but if you plan on stopping down to use the trail frequently an annual pass only costs $25. If you don’t happen to have your own skis you can stop in at Stout Adventures on the UW-Stout campus at the Sports and Fitness Center that rents out equipment to their students and the community (this includes anyone, even non-students)- this provides fair price items and accessibility to all. Students need a University ID and a driver’s license is required for community members. Students have a $7 daily fee and community members have a $10 daily fee for skis.
Photo by Danielle Magnuson
Winter Hike Down the Red Cedar Trail
End your 36 hours with a relaxing walk on the Red Cedar Trail (there are more sections to hike besides the section designated for skiing). Be sure to stop and grab some hot cocoa from Marion's Legacy Chocolates on Broadway to keep you warm. Once you arrive to the trail, you can take this time to soak in the beauty around you and talk about the awesome memories you’ve made over the weekend. Be sure to keep the trail beautiful for future hikers to admire and hold onto those hot chocolate cups until you get to a trash can! Don't forget to bring along all of your winter weather accessories, as the temperatures can get chilly. You will need a state trail pass, the same one when mentioned above in the skiing section. If you are over the age of 16, the adventure is more than worth the $5 day pass.