There are over 500 golf courses in the state of Wisconsin. Many of them are publicly owned some are private but accessible to those with money to splurge. In the winter these gloriously kept gardens are a safe and fun place to snowshoe or cross country ski.
In years past I stuck mainly to the state forests for my serious snowshoeing and ran around my area parks if I just needed a quick fix. This year I thought I’d check out the warmer months “forbidden” lands. So far I’ve been to three that are close to home. Grant, Warnimont and Whitnall Parks courses. These are free to roam but it is a kind gesture to not snowshoe on any groomed ski tracks. I found that Whitnall Park has the best groomed ski trail and the Grant park trail is marked but only groomed by the few skiers who had run through the course.
If I were a skier I would choose Whitnall Park for regular runs. It has a great groomed trail and a lot of good hills and curves.
And the wild life is abundant adding to the feeling of being out of the ever encoaching urban life. You will easily feel a cleansing of spirit after a run through this wilderness in the cold of winter.
Grant park is a very popular place in the summer and well visited the rest of the year. Even on the coldest days of winter you will find vehicles camped out in the beach parking lot to watch the waves from the safety and warmth of a car or the daring soles who need a spot of fresh Lake Michigan air walking about on the beach.
Seven Bridges can be a treacherous hike in winter and will sometimes be cordoned off but people still like to try their luck on the steep stairway. My curiosity of the inner sanctum of this golf course brought me out on a recent snowy day. It isn’t a large or grand course but it is quite lovely.
I found that it is filled with much old forest and hills to run up and down, only falling once as I tripped myself nearly landing in a sand trap. It seems the designer of this course had a thing for large traps. I did welcome the the very limited amount of ponds.
The third park I tried out was Warnimont Park. This is located within walking distance of Grant Park to the north in Cudahy. It runs along Lake Michigan and one of my favorite areas to bike through. Part of the Oak Leaf bike trail runs through Grant and Warnimont park and then north all the way through Milwaukee.
The wooded section is also great place to snowshoe. You can park in the lot on the north end of the golf course, run around the course past the lovely pond and into the woods where the bike trail isn’t always plowed. There are also a slew of hiking trails through these woods but they are unmarked so make note that if you get turned around, head west and you’ll easily find your way out of the woods. Head north and you’ll be in on the open course.
I’ve decided that I will search out more of these hidden gems. Not only are they well tended gardens, they often provide a fortune of photo and painting opportunities and I get a great workout running around on the hills and flat lands. Most courses are free to visit, but it seems that the ones most desirable are visited for a fee.
I’ve seen images of what they call Whistling Straits- The Irish and immediately felt that this is a place I need to see. Not being a golfer, I will have to either look from a distance or pay my fee and snowshoe around for a day. I must tell you that as this is a prestigious course, snowshoeing may be limited to certain areas. I only know that it looks like it would be a blast!
For now, I will resign to find the local public places where I can run around like a maniacal snow queen hoping no one sees me fall when I trip myself into a sand trap.
Happy snow days!