Enjoying the great outdoors this winter

This week campers are hiking, snowshoeing, building campfires and creating winter crafts at Riveredge Nature Center.


WASHINGTON COUNTY — Some winter activities may look different this year — masks and social distancing have become a matter of etiquette — but hearty Wisconsinites will find few outdoor events that are canceled due to COVID-19.

This year’s First Day hikes at Pike Lake and other state properties will be self-guided, according to information from the DNR website.

Hikers are encouraged to attend the event at a nearby state park with people from their household.

A vehicle admission sticker is required to visit state park properties and stickers can be purchased online, by calling 1-888-305-0398 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or at select properties that have self-registration stations, electronic kiosks or drive-up window service.

A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking. Those aged 16 or older will need a pass to bike, cross-country ski, ride horseback and inline skate on certain trails.

Maps and more information on state parks can be found on line at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov.

Sunburst Winter Sports Park General Manager Rob Friedl said the good news is that snowboarding, skiing and tubing are naturally socially-distanced activities. All employees are required to wear masks and Friedl said most guests have also been doing their part.

In addition to masks, social distancing and routine sanitation measures, foggers loaded with Selectrocide, a product that is advertised as having a 100 percent kill rate when it comes to COVID-19, are used after closing time every evening.

UVC lights have been installed in chalet and outbuilding ventilation systems — another measure that is supposed to have a 100 percent COVID kill rate. They are also testing a “scrubber” that pushes air through a HEPA filter.

“Beyond that, there is a certain amount of risk that goes on with living life,” Friedl said.

While they’d love to have the business, he said those that are uncomfortable with the environment aren’t required to be there.

They haven’t canceled activities at the Kewaskum hill, but some school and other groups have altered their plans. High school and adult ski races are being scheduled and new this year, parents can watch races from home on the internet.

A growing tradition in the community are Sunburst’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, which for many has been a drive-in event they can watch from the comfort of their car.

On Dec. 31, the hill closes at 8 p.m. and fireworks begin at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, check Sunburst Ski Area on Facebook.

Riveredge events

At Riveredge Nature Center, Adventure Education Manager Steff Merten said for some activities they have limited group sizes and encourage mask wearing.

Instead of formal attire, sturdy hiking boots and layered dress will be donned to celebrate the end of 2020 at noon on Dec. 31.

The group will meet in the parking lot at Lion’s Den Gorge Preserve and hike to the beach, collecting “natural confetti” to throw at noon. Families are invited to build cairns and decorate the beach, search for interesting rocks and fossils and ring in 2021 naturally.

The event is free for all families but they are asked to RSVP at https://forms.gle/hd476xDP xR2arHbh6. Space is limited and masks are encouraged.

The Jan. 1 birding field trip won’t include a brunch this year, but birders are encouraged to meet at the Port Washington Marina Boat Ramp at 7 a.m.

Snow conditions permitting, Merten said the center’s trails will be open every Friday in January and February for skiing or snowshoe hiking. The trail will be lit from 4:30 to 8 p.m.

Snowshoe rentals will be available during the center’s regular hours when there is enough snow — either a 4-inch pack or 6 inches of fresh snow.

January hours on the weekends are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Trail maps are available at the Visitor Center, at trail heads, or by downloading a digital copy. For trail fees and more information, see www.riveredgenaturecenter.org.

The ice at Regner Park isn’t ready for skating yet, but notifications will be posted on the West Bend’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry webpage.

Once its smooth skating, the rink will be lit from 5 to 9 p.m. daily, said Tanya Anderson, an administrative assistant for the department.

The warming house will be open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Concessions will consist of pre-wrapped treats and visitors can bring their own hot chocolate.