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My favorite walking companions have always had four legs.
Together we’ve logged hundreds (ok, wanted to say thousands, but I may be overstating my exercise commitment there!) of miles together exploring some pretty great places in the Fox Cities. My current companion is Boyd, (pictured here with my daughter) who joined our family last fall.
He’s young…and a beagle….which means he has plenty of energy to channel into some great walks. Our favorite walk has always been across the Fox Cities Trestle Trail. Start at Fritse Park (899 N. Lake Street, Neenah) and walk this converted railroad line for .75 miles to the lock in Menasha. Dogs are welcome on the trestle trail portion of the park and in the adjoining Rydell Conservancy which has rustic but well maintained wood chipped paths. The ponds and trees in this section of the park offer plenty of adventure for the beagle nose. It’s very rustic in winter, but if your dog’s human has the right footwear it’s a very easy 1 mile loop.
To extend your walk from the Trestle, follow the paved path along North Lake Street as it turns West and parallels Highway 10 for many miles or head south and follow the trail into the City of Neenah. The current trail follows North Lake Street and then tucks into Herb and Dolly Smith Park along the southern shore of Little Lake Butte des Morts into Arrowhead Park. The trail continues into Gateway Plaza in Downtown Neenah. Neenah is one of our most dog-friendly communities and dogs are allowed on leash in all city parks.
Loop the Lake is an initiative underway to continue the trail from Arrowhead park across the water again to meet back up with the Fox Cities Trestle. The proposed loop will be 3.2 miles…a great walk or run with or without the four legged companion.
As we wait for the trail completion, Boyd and I blaze our own loop through Downtown Neenah (where Boyd recommends a stop at Lucy’s Closet –dogs always welcome), turning north on Commercial Street and following it into the City of Menasha where we turn left on Water Street just after the historic Tayco Street Bridge. Water Street heads back East where you meet up with the Trestle Trail by the Menasha Lock. It’s about a 5 mile loop and the trails are plowed (for the most part) in winter.
In contrast to the “nature within the city walk” around Little Lake Butte des Morts, the WIOUWASH Trail offers miles of dog and human-friendly peace and tranquility. Located just 5 miles west of the Fox Cities, the WIOUWASH is a state trail in two sections. The Southern section covers 22 miles between Hortonville and Oshkosh. Plenty of access points with parking are available. I recommend the lot off HWY G in the Town of Allenville. From there you can head in either direction. MOVIE TRIVIA: If you head north from the lot in Allenville, about 2 miles along the trail is a marker noting where a recent film starring Johnny Depp was filmed. I won’t give away the secret. It’s fun to discover on your own. Snowmobiles are allowed on the trail in winter, so it’s always best to check trail conditions.
High Cliff State Park has 16 miles of great trails and dogs are allowed on almost all of them. The park is open year round and offers spectacular views of Lake Winnebago from the limestone cliffs in throughout park.
Finally, if your pooch needs some exercise but you’re just not up for hoofing it, Boyd highly recommends the Outagamie County Dog Park. This 17-acre fences park is open year round (a portion closes in the winter) and offers plenty of trials, terrain and furry friends for Fido. It’s common to see the humans milling about and socializing while the dogs run full out with the pack