[EDITOR’S ADVISORY: A candlelight event scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 3 at Blue Mound State Park has been cancelled due to poor conditions.]
MADISON – Interested in experiencing the beauty of a Wisconsin winter night? Ski or hike along a trail illuminated by candles! More than 20 candlelight events are scheduled at state park, forest and other DNR properties across Wisconsin over the next three weekends.
“Despite the lack of snow in southern Wisconsin so far this winter, turnout at candlelight events has been very good,” says Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Parks System for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We’re hoping the weather cooperates and we receive fresh snow and milder temperatures over the next two weekends.”
There will be more than 20 candlelight events held over the next three weekends, including the 26th annual event at the Flambeau River State Forest on Feb. 3.Photo credit: Jim Kuchler, Friends of Flambeau River SF
There are eight candlelight ski and hikes scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4 and nine scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10. Following these events, six more candlelight events are scheduled Saturday, Feb. 17, and the final event will be a candlelight snowshoe hike Saturday, March 3, at Rib Mountain State Park. A special Valentine’s theme candlelight event is being held Feb. 10 at Richard Bong State Recreation Area that requires preregistration
The events are held on generally easy trails, illuminated by candles every few yards. Park and forest crews and volunteers from local park friends groups may put out as many as 300 to 400 candles on a trail.
A few of the properties offer only candlelight-lit ski trails or only candlelit hiking or snowshoeing trails, but if there is sufficient snow many properties offer both.
In addition to putting out candles, many parks have bonfires, and some have warming houses open. At some events, friends groups providerefreshments such as hot chocolate and snacks. Any fee or donation accepted by the friends are used to support the property.
People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword “candlelight.” For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords “find a park.” Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.
While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled due to icy conditions, extreme cold or severe wind chill, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if severe weather is in the forecast.
New groomed ski trail conditions page launched on the DNR website
People can now check on cross-country ski conditions at many state properties through the DNR website.Photo credit: DNR
Cross-country skiers can now find conditions at groomed ski trails on DNR properties in one location. Conditions are updated at least weekly, and as conditions warrant, for all groomed ski trails at which a Wisconsin State Trail Pass is required and at some other properties where ski trails are groomed but the pass is not required.
To view ski trail conditions, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “trail conditions.” The page provides conditions by property as well as by trail for some properties that have multiple groomed ski trails. The new system allows for sorting by property or by condition, to find the best trail conditions. Color-coded conditions ratings span from “excellent” (purple) to “good,” (green) to “fair,” (yellow) to “poor” (orange) to “not recommended for skiing” (red). Each entry shows when the trail was last groomed, level of grooming (for example packed or tracked), when the report itself was last updated, and notes the kind of skiing for which the trail is groomed (classic, skate, or both).
The page also offers quick links to the property web page, a map to the property location, and indicates if a state trail pass is required to ski at the property.