Walk-About Whitewater and Rice Lakes

March 18, 2020

During this time of social distancing and uncertainty, you may be feeling anxious, scared, sad, and perhaps stir-crazy at the thought of holing up for the next three or more weeks. We have your back, and plan to bring you a number of inspiring outdoor escapes where you can retreat to alone or with only your family to get some fresh air. Our first escape is a simple walk-about (.5mi) providing beautiful views of Whitewater and Rice Lakes. This walk is not strenuous, but does have one hill, and has so much to look at that it can occupy you and your loved ones for an hour or two.

What to Do First

•Pack a picnic!
•Pop over to the Whitewater Lake Visitor Center to purchase a day pass for your car.
WI visitors are $8.
WI visitors over 65 are $3.
Out-of-state visitors are $11.
•Park your car in the parking lot of the Parkside Marina.
•Grab your backpack and kids (if you're bringing the fam).

The beginning of the paved Whitewater Lakeside Trail in Whitewater, WI

The Whitewater Lakeside Trail

Begin your walk on the paved sidewalk near the picnic table under the big oak. Right away, you'll pass over the dam. Watch for Egrets and Herons. As you mosey, you'll have ample opportunities to sit on the fishing docks (once they're in the water for the warmer season) and soak up the sun. This trail also offers a number of native plant species to admire. Read the signs along the trail to learn about the various plant and animal species!


A third of the way down the trail, you'll notice a footpath on your left that heads up a hill. Do yourself a favor and take that path to the top of the hill. Especially if you appreciate a little whimsy and the mystical side of nature. You'll find a large tree with a low-hanging branch to sit/play on. In the summer, when there's a lot of growth, you'll be completely hidden from the paved trail. But in the cooler months, take in a gorgeous view of Whitewater Lake from above. Both are perfect times to take a much needed deep breath.

Low-hanging branch perfecting for sitting and enjoying the view atop a hill off of Whitewater Lakeside Trail in Whitewater, WI

As you head back down the hill and continue on the paved trail, take moments to pause at the waterside to count minnows or collect rocks. Kids and adults alike find joy in this!

Whitewater Lake Beach

Near the end of the trail, you'll start to see tall grasses and a glimpse of Whitewater Lake Beach. If it's warm, relax in the sand with your picnic or simply wade in the shallow waters of Whitewater Lake for a few minutes. There's nothing more refreshing than cool water on bare feet.

Whitewater Lake Beach with local UW Whitewater Sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta's symbols carved into the sand.

After wading or resting on the beach, turn around and follow the trail back to your car or continue following the paved trail up to the Whitewater Lake parking lot and bathrooms. From here, you'll head left on Kettle Moraine Scenic Dr. down the hill toward Dr. O.R. Rice Memorial Picnic Area Peninsula. Stay on the left side of the road to ensure you can see oncoming traffic and remain safe!

The Dr. O.R. Rice Memorial Picnic Area Peninsula

At the bottom of the hill, cross over to the right side of the road and make your way toward the oak-filled peninsula. You may want to set your picnic up here. With honestly breath-taking beauty and a wonderful view of the Kettle Moraine State Forest from the right side of the peninsula, you'll find yourself lingering a little longer in the peace and quiet.

Entrance to the Dr. O.R. Rice Memorial Picnic Area in Whitewater, WI

After packing up the picnic, wading in the water or collecting rocks, and following the edge of the peninsula for all the best views, turn right out of the picnic area and back to Parkside Marina for your car.

Take deep breaths. Enjoy the walk. Soak up the beauty that Whitewater and Rice Lakes offer.


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