Donald County Park



Park shelter and information signs at Donald County Park.

Chris Bird, Managing Editor

The weather in Wisconsin recently has been giving us little tastes of real spring. Like, not just the right time of year, but really not having to put on a winter coat and layer up. If you’ve lived in the state as long as I have, it feels like trusting these changes in weather leads to unexpected second, or even third, winters. Against that feeling, me and my partner decided to do something outdoorsy over spring break and planned a visit to a place called Donald County Park.

I’ll start out by saying that this park is big. Like 12.3 miles of trails big, and I wasn’t able to wander through the whole place in the hours I spent there. That being said, I did see a good amount of the park thanks to a handful of overlooks and lots of open land and it was gorgeous even in this post-winter sort of time we’re in before the plants have really come back in color.

The parking lot off of Highway 92 was packed, with people parking neatly on the sides of the road leading to the park shelter. Despite the park looking to be busy when I showed up, I saw only a handful of people in my time there, and they were all far enough away to let me and my partner wander in peace. Definitely felt like a safe social distance, and people were good about giving each other a nice personal bubble of space. If this was the park when it is full, I can’t imagine anyone having trouble finding a place to walk or relax away from everything.

I showed up to the park to walk around and spend some time relaxing in a hammock with my partner, but there were trails and areas dedicated to all types of outdoor activities. I saw spots for fishing, hunting, horse riding, biking, and hiking. If there were still snow all over, you could go snow shoeing or cross-country skiing as well. Moving through the land is something special too, as you can walk through woods, then prairie, and even find some rough and rocky patches to explore and take in. Not to mention plenty of spots to just stop and relax for a bit.

The big thing that I think grabbed my attention, and apparently has grabbed the attention of many people over the years, is Donald Rock. On top of a hill is this big old rock, that honestly just looks like it just got dropped off up there by some giant. The rock has managed to weather the slow erosion that formed the rest of the land, and it stands alone as the most easily noticeable thing around. My partner knows the rock as “the brain,” which is a good nickname because of its wrinkly appearance and cracks down the middle dividing it. We posted up on some sturdy trees in our hammock near the Donald Rock because there is a deep part of my brain that just thinks rocks are neat, and it’s a good spot to get a view of everything.

With online classes not really stopping their pace for spring break like in person ones do, and me easily stressing over planning out trips, just going to a park and relaxing was definitely a good way to spend my free time. In the past I’ve gone to places like Devil’s Lake, but there was something really nice about going out to a quieter place, and not have to worry about getting a permit to do basic park stuff. Though, you will need a permit to do any of the more specialized activities at the park, Donald County park was just a great place to go and hang out without a plan other than wander till you’re tired, and find a nice spot to lay down for a while. If you’re feeling some wanderlust and want to keep things simple, I definitely recommend visiting a smaller local park, they have lots to offer even for an indoor kid like me.