Best Backpacking in Wisconsin

Hiker standing on rock with hiking stick at Devil’s Lake State Park Wisconsin
Shaman Mountain is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission on certain links, at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Exploring the natural wonders of Wisconsin is an adventure like no other. From dense forests to serene lakeshores and rugged bluffs, the state offers a diverse landscape that beckons backpackers to embark on thrilling journeys. Whether you’re an avid hiker seeking remote wilderness or a nature enthusiast craving scenic beauty, Wisconsin has something for every backpacking enthusiast. In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the most captivating backpacking destinations across the Badger State, each offering its unique charm and a chance to immerse yourself in the untamed splendor of the Midwest. Pack your gear, lace up your boots, and get ready for unforgettable experiences in the best backpacking spots Wisconsin has to offer. Let’s hit the trails and discover the natural treasures that await!



Ice Age National Scenic Trail

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers a captivating journey through Wisconsin’s glacial history. Spanning over 1,000 miles, this iconic trail unveils a mesmerizing landscape shaped by ancient ice sheets. Wanderers can traverse diverse terrain, witness stunning vistas, and explore the state’s unique geological features. Prepare for an unforgettable backpacking experience along the Ice Age Trail, where nature’s ancient story unfolds with each step.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail:

  • Unique Glacial Landscape: Experience Wisconsin’s stunning glacial features, including eskers, drumlins, and kettles, shaped by ancient ice sheets over thousands of years.
  • Diverse Terrain: Encounter a variety of landscapes, from rolling hills to dense forests, providing a challenging and rewarding backpacking experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Observe a rich array of wildlife, including deer, eagles, and various bird species, making your journey even more immersive.
  • Scenic Vistas: Be treated to breathtaking vistas and panoramic views of serene lakes, picturesque valleys, and lush meadows.
  • Cultural and Historical Sites: Discover historic sites and cultural landmarks along the trail, offering insights into the region’s past and native peoples’ heritage.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Trekking Poles, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filtration System, Snacks


Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest invites adventurers to explore its vast wilderness in northern Wisconsin. This expansive forest, encompassing diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife, beckons backpackers with its untamed beauty. Traversing through dense woodlands, rolling hills, and picturesque lakes, hikers will find serenity amid nature’s grandeur. The forest’s numerous trails, including sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail, promise unforgettable backpacking experiences for those seeking tranquility and connection with the great outdoors.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest:

  • Vast Wilderness: Explore the expansive and diverse wilderness of northern Wisconsin, with its stunning forests, lakes, and rolling hills.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, eagles, and a myriad of bird species, adding to the thrill of your backpacking adventure.
  • Tranquil Nature: Immerse yourself in the serenity of nature as you hike through secluded trails, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Backpacking Trails: Enjoy a range of well-maintained trails, including sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail, offering options for all skill levels.
  • Camping Opportunities: Experience the joy of camping under the stars and listening to the sounds of nature in designated backcountry camping areas.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Filter, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Bear Canister, First Aid Kit


Meyers Beach Lake Shore Trail

Meyers Beach Lake Shore Trail beckons adventure-seekers with its captivating beauty along the shores of Lake Superior. This scenic trail, tracing through Northern Wisconsin’s stunning landscape, offers breathtaking vistas of the Great Lake’s turquoise waters and majestic sea caves. As you embark on this coastal journey, you’ll be enchanted by the rhythmic sound of crashing waves, the sandy shores, and the unique geological wonders that make this trail an unforgettable backpacking destination.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Meyers Beach Lake Shore Trail:

  • Stunning Lake Superior Views: Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Lake Superior’s turquoise waters and dramatic coastal scenery.
  • Majestic Sea Caves: Witness the unique geological formations of the sea caves, created by the lake’s powerful waves and ice over time.
  • Coastal Serenity: Enjoy the tranquility of the shoreline as you hike along sandy beaches and listen to the soothing sound of waves.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Spot a diverse array of wildlife, including birds, marine life, and possibly even the occasional otter or deer along the trail.
  • Photography Opportunities: Capture breathtaking photographs of the picturesque landscapes, sea caves, and Lake Superior’s majestic vistas to cherish the memories of your backpacking adventure.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Shoes, Headlamp, Rain Gear, Water Bottle, Snacks


North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail stretches across seven states, offering an unparalleled journey through diverse landscapes and cultural heritage. Traversing over 4,600 miles, this iconic trail leads adventurers through rugged terrain, lush forests, picturesque lakes, and charming small towns. As you embark on this epic trek, you’ll encounter stunning vistas, encounter wildlife, and create lasting memories amidst the vast beauty of the North Country’s wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the North Country National Scenic Trail:

  • Epic Adventure: Embark on an epic journey spanning seven states and over 4,600 miles, providing a true backpacking adventure of a lifetime.
  • Diverse Landscapes: Experience the stunning variety of landscapes, from rugged mountains and dense forests to tranquil lakes and rolling prairies.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore charming small towns and cultural landmarks, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the regions traversed by the trail.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Encounter diverse wildlife along the trail, from elusive animals to various bird species, making your backpacking experience even more rewarding.
  • Scenic Vistas: Be treated to breathtaking vistas and panoramic views, rewarding your efforts with stunning sights along your journey.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Trekking Poles, First Aid Kit


Kettle Moraine State Forest

Kettle Moraine State Forest beckons nature enthusiasts with its captivating blend of rolling hills, pristine lakes, and lush woodlands. This enchanting forest in Wisconsin offers a diverse range of outdoor experiences, from challenging backpacking trails to serene camping spots. As you venture through its scenic beauty, you’ll be mesmerized by the glacial landforms and rewarded with opportunities to reconnect with nature amidst this tranquil wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Kettle Moraine State Forest:

  • Scenic Landscapes: Explore the forest’s diverse and picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, pristine lakes, and dense woodlands.
  • Glacial Landforms: Witness unique glacial features such as kettles, moraines, and eskers, offering a fascinating geological experience.
  • Varied Backpacking Trails: Enjoy a range of well-maintained backpacking trails catering to different skill levels and offering rewarding experiences.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, from deer and foxes to a wide array of bird species, enriching your backpacking adventure.
  • Camping Delights: Embrace the serenity of the forest by camping under the stars and relishing the tranquility of nature throughout your journey.

Recommended Gear: Daypack, Hiking Shoes, Hammock, Sleeping Pad, Water Bottle, Camping Cookware, Insect Repellent


Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park lures nature enthusiasts with its captivating beauty in Northern Wisconsin. This scenic park boasts stunning waterfalls, rugged gorges, and ancient lava formations, creating a mesmerizing landscape to explore. Hikers can follow well-maintained trails that wind through lush forests and along the Bad River, providing breathtaking views at every turn. A visit to Copper Falls State Park promises a tranquil escape into the heart of nature’s splendor.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Copper Falls State Park:

  • Spectacular Waterfalls: Experience the thrill of witnessing stunning waterfalls, including the picturesque Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls.
  • Rugged Gorges: Explore the park’s rugged gorges carved by the Bad River, offering a unique and dramatic hiking experience.
  • Ancient Lava Formations: Marvel at the park’s ancient lava formations, adding a fascinating geological dimension to your backpacking adventure.
  • Scenic Hiking Trails: Follow well-marked trails that lead through lush forests, providing picturesque views of the park’s natural wonders.
  • Tranquil Wilderness: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you venture deeper into the heart of this pristine state park.

Recommended Gear: Daypack, Hiking Shoes, Trekking Poles, Hammock, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Insect Repellent


Governor Dodge State Park

Governor Dodge State Park, a true gem in Wisconsin’s landscape, invites outdoor enthusiasts to discover its natural wonders. With over 5,300 acres of diverse terrain, the park boasts beautiful lakes, deep valleys, and ancient rock formations. Hikers can explore an extensive network of trails, providing opportunities to witness stunning vistas and immerse themselves in the serenity of the wilderness. This park is a haven for backpackers seeking an unforgettable adventure amidst nature’s grandeur.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Governor Dodge State Park:

  • Diverse Natural Beauty: Explore over 5,300 acres of diverse terrain, including lakes, valleys, and ancient rock formations, offering a scenic and rewarding backpacking experience.
  • Extensive Trail Network: Discover an extensive network of trails that cater to various skill levels, providing opportunities for both novice and experienced backpackers.
  • Spectacular Vistas: Witness breathtaking vistas and panoramic views from high points along the trails, rewarding your efforts with stunning scenery.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, from deer and wild turkeys to various bird species, adding to the allure of your backpacking journey.
  • Camping Delights: Experience the joy of camping under the stars in designated camping areas, connecting with nature in this tranquil wilderness.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Bug Spray, Trekking Poles


Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park, a natural wonder in Wisconsin, entices outdoor enthusiasts with its breathtaking beauty. Nestled between quartzite bluffs, this park features a stunning lake, rugged cliffs, and lush forests. Hikers can explore a network of scenic trails, offering mesmerizing vistas and opportunities for rock climbing and swimming. This beloved park is a haven for nature lovers seeking tranquility and adventure in the heart of the Midwest.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Devil’s Lake State Park:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of quartzite bluffs, a stunning lake, and lush forests, creating a captivating backdrop for your backpacking journey.
  • Challenging Trails: Explore a variety of scenic trails that cater to different skill levels, offering rewarding challenges and opportunities to immerse in nature.
  • Rock Climbing: Engage in rock climbing adventures on the park’s rugged cliffs, adding an exciting element to your backpacking experience.
  • Swimming and Relaxation: Take a refreshing dip in Devil’s Lake or find serenity along the sandy shores, offering moments of relaxation amidst nature’s grandeur.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a diverse array of wildlife, from deer and chipmunks to a variety of bird species, enriching your backpacking adventure with unique sightings.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Bottle, Insect Repellent, Climbing Gear


Big Bay State Park

Big Bay State Park invites nature enthusiasts to revel in its natural splendor. Situated on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, this park boasts a captivating blend of rugged shoreline, sandy beaches, and dense forests. Hikers can explore well-maintained trails offering breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding beauty. With opportunities for birdwatching, beachcombing, and star-gazing, visitors can experience the tranquil serenity of this island paradise.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Big Bay State Park:

  • Island Paradise: Experience the unique beauty of Madeline Island, surrounded by Lake Superior’s majestic waters.
  • Rugged Shoreline: Explore the rugged shoreline, featuring stunning cliffs and rocky outcrops, adding to the park’s scenic allure.
  • Sandy Beaches: Enjoy the sandy beaches along Lake Superior, providing opportunities for relaxation and beachcombing.
  • Tranquil Hiking Trails: Wander through well-maintained hiking trails, offering panoramic views of the lake and lush forests.
  • Birdwatching and Star-Gazing: Delight in birdwatching opportunities, and as the sun sets, witness breathtaking starry nights in this serene wilderness.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Bottle, Binoculars, Star Map/Guide


Willow River State Park

Willow River State Park beckons nature enthusiasts with its captivating beauty and diverse landscapes. This picturesque park in Wisconsin features a stunning waterfall cascading into a gorge, surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills. Hikers can explore well-maintained trails that offer panoramic views and opportunities for wildlife sightings. With its serene ambiance and enchanting scenery, Willow River State Park is a tranquil retreat for outdoor adventurers seeking solace in nature’s embrace.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Willow River State Park:

  • Enchanting Waterfall: Experience the beauty of the stunning waterfall that cascades into a gorge, creating a mesmerizing backdrop for your backpacking adventure.
  • Lush Forests: Explore the park’s lush forests, offering a serene ambiance and opportunities to immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility.
  • Scenic Trails: Wander through well-maintained trails that provide panoramic views of the park’s diverse landscapes and rolling hills.
  • Wildlife Sightings: Encounter a variety of wildlife, from deer and foxes to various bird species, enhancing your backpacking experience with unique sightings.
  • Tranquil Retreat: Find solace in the park’s serene ambiance, offering a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the embrace of nature’s beauty.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Bottle, Binoculars, Insect Repellent


Related Posts:

A large tree lines the shore of a lake near a large metropolitan city in Wisconsin

Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin

Unlock the secrets of angling paradise as we dive into the captivating world of fishing in Wisconsin’s pristine lakes. Prepare to be enthralled by the

Vibrant autumn foliage reflected in water a Swartswood Lake State Park, Stillwater, New Jersey

Best Backpacking in New Jersey

Are you an avid hiker seeking the next thrilling adventure? If so, you’re in for a treat as we delve into the realm of backpacking

Trophy sized bass being released back intro the water in Wisconsin.

Best Bass Fishing in Wisconsin

When it comes to the best bass fishing in Wisconsin, anglers are in for a treat. Wisconsin’s diverse waterways, from pristine lakes to winding rivers,