Lake Geneva is a beautiful lake in southeastern Wisconsin close to both Milwaukee and Chicago. Due to its proximity to two populous cities, this area is often over crowded and loud during peak times; therefore, it is often intentionally bypassed by those that want to adventure travel.
There is a small state park on the southern edge of this lake called Big Foot Beach State Park that does provide a modicum of peace and scenic outdoor beauty. The beach is right in the heart of the tourist areas as there is a bar right next door and motorboat rentals across the street.
This may not seem like the best place to hike and get some solitude due to the hordes attracted to the lake, but it actually is a great place to do this because of the masses at the lake. The park has a modest three mile loop hiking trail plus a few smaller ones that are ignored by most who travel here.
I hiked the three mile trail twice and saw absolutely no one on the trails. People were all clustered on the beach or in the picnic area across the street from the beach.
Summer is my least favorite month to hike. Swarms of deer flies and mosquitoes coupled with heat and humidity amplified by walking makes it not the most desirable activity. I much prefer hiking in spring or fall and would even prefer the winter if I was not busy cross-country skiing.
Not hiking in the summer is not an option though. I still need my fix. In order to cope with the flies and the heat I usually center my summer hiking activities on a destination that has a place to swim. Big Foot Beach fits the bill for this. I hiked the three mile loop then hit the beach for a swim. I then did another loop and then returned to the beach for a swim.
Big Foot Beach State Park would make a great compromise place for couples who may not share a mutual love for adventure travel activities. The hiker can leave the swimmer at the beach or at the bar and then hike for an hour or two and then meet back at the beach.
The park is basically situated right in the middle of an urban environment. At one point the trail leads to an opening, which I followed to an overlook of a high school and a baseball diamond. At another point the edge of the park abutted to a farm. I walked up to the edge to check out the farm and a wild turkey and a couple of quail flew away. There are times in the park where it feels like you are in the woods and other times you remember you are near a city.
Big Foot Beach State Park is not the wildest state park in Wisconsin nor is it the prettiest, but it has some pluses. It is a great family destination thanks to the swimming and fishing. They also have over 100 campsites and people can either put up a tent or bring the RV.
The name of the lake derived from a local Potawatomi Indian chief and not from any hairy, mythical beast. The only problem with the beach was a rancid smell from several decaying dead fish left in a pile for days. The state park should think about cleaning this mess up before the beach becomes known as the Big Smell Beach.
All Wisconsin State Parks require an entrance fee. Check this post out for information on these fees:
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