By Rachel Smith
Situated on Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park is among the most picturesque places to visit in Wisconsin. To truly experience all that the nearly 1,200-acre park has to offer, you have to make a trip of it! Enjoy historical sites, hiking trails, and area restaurants as you escape to High Cliff State Park.
High Cliff State Park is located in Sherwood, Wisconsin. The park bumps right up to Wisconsin’s largest lake—Lake Winnebago. There are tons of beautiful views to take in throughout the 1,187-acre park. Hike, camp, bike, snowshoe, and more at High Cliff State Park.
While there are tons of different trails for all levels of hikers at High Cliff, we’d recommend the Red Bird Trail. You can start your hiking at the family campground or the tower parking lot. The Red Bird Trail runs parallel to the stunning Niagara Escarpment. You’ll find beautiful views of Lake Winnebago and unique rock structures like limestone quarries. Hike 3.4 miles through heavy forest, but don’t forget to stop at the Chief Red Bird Statue and the park observation tower.
A historical statue of Red Bird, Chief of the Winnebagos, can be found along Red Bird Trail. This beautiful statue of Chief Red Bird depicts the fearless leader in authentic costume dating back to 1827. Brush up on your history of the Ho-Chunk Native American Tribe and one of the most dramatic incidents in Wisconsin history.
Catch beautiful views from High Cliff State Park’s observation tower. The observation tower is located at the top of the escarpment near Red Bird Trail and Historical Red Bird Statue. Watch the sunset over the west side of Lake Winnebago from this 40-foot tower. Catch views of all of the Fox Valley (Appleton, Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, and Kaukauna.) Don’t forget to take your camera along for the perfect selfie.
Even when the temperatures drop, there is fun to be had at High Cliff. Winter activities at High Cliff include skiing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. When the trails are snow-covered, certain trails in the park are designated for skiing. On the segment of the Red Bird Trail from the Red Bird Statue to the Family Campground, fat-tire bikers are welcome to explore. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in High Cliff except on designed ski trails. Explorers will also find a three-mile snowmobiling trail through the park, connecting Lake Winnebago with the Calumet County snowmobile trail system.
Located just north of the campground off the Indian Mount Trail you’ll find signs for the Effigy Mounds. They were built by nomadic woodland tribes dating back to 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D. Some mounds were used for burial and funeral purposes, while others remained empty for ceremonial purposes. Originally there were 30 mounds within High Cliff State Park. Unfortunately, only nine remain.
Dishing up delicious Chicago-style pizza with “that guaranteed Sicilian taste,” Pagoni’s is the perfect place to stop and fill up your belly after a long adventure! Their delicious stuffed pizzas feature two layers of crust, stuffed with mozzarella, red sauce, and your favorite ingredients, and topped with chunky marinara and parmesan cheese. Yum!
If camping isn’t in the books, stay overnight at the quaint and charming Roost Bed & Breakfast in Appleton. Featuring five contemporary suites with gas fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and private baths, this will be a relaxing way to close your adventure.