March 25, 2022

Spring into Nature in Appleton, WI

Wooden City Park sign with gold lettering in forefront of picturesque park

As Spring challenges old man winter, the improving weather makes nature more accessible in Appleton and the Fox Cities.  Below are some of our favorite local nature offerings when we get a chance to enjoy them. All are within walking distance or a short drive from the Franklin Street Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Fox Trot Trail, Appleton, Wisconsin

Just a few blocks from the Inn one can pick up the Fox Trot Trail.  The self-guided trail is a scenic two-mile loop through Appleton’s downtown and riverfront area. One can begin the adventure by following the fox paw print symbols starting from Houdini Plaza. Or pick up the fox paw print symbol anywhere throughout the trail to follow it. The Fox Trot Trail offers stunning views of the Fox River. During the Spring migration season you are likely to see a variety of waterfowl.

The Trail also takes you by some of the town’s historic sites. You can pick-up a brochure or download it {HERE} before starting, to read up on the destinations you’ll come across.  Some of these include: the History Museum at the Castle, Lawrence University Main Hall, the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, the site where Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Ferber interviewed Harry Houdini, and the Zuelke Building.

Appleton Memorial Park

1620 E Witzke Blvd, Appleton, WI 54911, Phone: 920-832-5905

Trails, green spaces, gardens, ponds, and many facilities make up the 35 acres of Appleton Memorial Park. There are trails for walking and biking. During the summer, visitors can use the boat ramp and take part in archery. Other amenities include a picnic pavilion with restrooms, tables, grill, a refrigerator and a stove. Free parking is available.

Wooden bridge and lookout over pond Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve

4815 N Lynndale Dr, Appleton, WI 54913, Phone: 920-731-6041

The Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve is one of numerous sites preserved through the work of the past Wisconsin legislator whose name it bears. For over forty-five years The Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve has been teaching people about appreciation of nature, conservation, environmental ethics, and overall wellness. The non-profit organization has made environmental preservation a fun topic. They offer an array of educational programs and recreational activities.

Sprawling over 775 acres, visitors will be able to walk, hike, or jog through an 8-mile trail system. Here they will witness a variety of flowers, plants and wildlife. Some of the more popular activities available include Cross Country Skiing, GPS and Geocaching, and Birds and Beaks, an elementary school student program.  The students use binoculars to explore the preserve and discover an array of birds in their natural habitat.

Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

Beautiful wing-spread Monarch butterfly perched on yellow flower amidst other yellow flowers and greenery
Photo courtesy of Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

N2550 WI-47, Appleton, WI 54913, Phone: 920-733-2929

The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin, including the state’s largest butterfly house, opens to visitors every summer. In 2022 the Gardens are scheduled to open on June 1. Visitors admire many native butterfly species and see how they develop through the different growth phases.

Outside of the Butterfly House, visitors can experience the Butterfly Bridge and Maze. The bridge offers a stunning view of the surroundings.  The two-acre maze lets guests get up close and personal with birds, turkeys, deer, mink, and many native plants. The location also added a honeybee hive attraction.  This not only shows how honeybees produce their honey but provides an opportunity for visitors to buy fresh honey as well.

The Niagara Escarpment at High Cliff State Park

Calm blue waters of Lake Winnebago and tree covered hillside of lush green in background; sea gulls dot the scenery
Photo Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

When it comes to nature, we also like to mention one of Wisconsin’s popular “natural wonders.” A quick 20-25 minute drive to the southeast gets you to “The Ledge.” This is what locals call the limestone cliff that runs through High Cliff State Park, Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake, lies the Niagara Escarpment. The 440-million year old cliff begins in Wisconsin and extends 1,000 miles to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls would not exist if it were not for the Escarpment. This major land feature in Wisconsin is rich with fossils, rare plant species, caves and waterfalls. Native American pictographs, petroglyphs, and effigy mounds are also found in this rock corridor.

A clear view of the entire cliff can be seen as one drives into the lower part of High Cliff State Park. The upper part of the park features nine miles of hiking trails and another nine for horseback riding. Additionally, there’s a marina, public launch, a sandy beach, and more than a mile of shoreline along the lake. Of course, no trip to High Cliff is complete without scaling the Lookout Tower. From the top you can see 30 miles in most directions.

Check here for Future Attractions

Besides the local natural attractions, the many activities in the area support a variety of interests for visitors to Appleton. Watch for future blog posts about the many offerings that make Appleton and the Fox Cities a great place to visit.  Additional events and attractions can also be found at the Appleton Downtown, Inc website or the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau website.