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Richard Bong State Recreation Area

Hikers have more than 16 miles of trails to explore, through a variety of habitat.  

Hunting Notice: During fall, several hunting seasons are open at Richard Bong State Recreation Area. For more information, please see: Richard Bong Hunting Season Hiking Tips [PDF]

Hiking trails

Visitor center nature trail (0.7 miles)

This self-guided nature trail is a limestone-surfaced trail. It can be walked in about 15-30 minutes. The trail is almost completely in the open grasslands and goes through a restored prairie. There is a small oak woodlot. This is a great place to see bobolinks during summer. A boardwalk overlooks beautiful Wolf Lake where you can spot migrating and resident waterfowl.

Vista nature trail (1.0 miles)

Enjoy its peacefulness of this less-used, self-guided nature trail. It can be walked in about 60-90 minutes. The trail is closed in winter. To get to the trail, park at the Vista parking lot off County Highway B. The trail enters a beautiful hardwood forest and goes past a small pond. This is an excellent birding area for woodland species.

Trails north of Highway 142

You may hike, ski or bike (non-motorized bikes) on these northern trails. Bike riders 16 years of age and older need a state trail pass. Dogs are allowed on a leash 8 feet or less.  When trails are snow-covered, dogs are only allowed on the service roads and the portion of the Red Trail north of Highway BB (ask for “A Guide for You and Your Dog” for rules). Ski trails are not groomed. When ski tracks are present, please do not walk on them.

  • Gray Trail (1.7 miles): The Gray Trail is relatively flat with no steep grades. Crossing Highway 142, the trail passes a nice pond to the west before heading through a semi-wooded area. At the turnaround point, the trail turns south through a heavily wooded area then turns east again to complete the loop and rejoin the initial trail section leading back to the parking lot.
  • Yellow Trail (4.4 miles): The Yellow Trail is generally level to moderately rolling and traverses a nice mixture of grassland, woodland and wetland. This is a good trail for birding. The trail crosses a paved road at the north and south ends of the loop. The raised ridge portion of the trail was built as the entrance road to the planned Bong Air Force Base. The trail exits on the west side of the ridge via stairs.
  • Orange Trail (6.4 miles): The Orange Trail crosses Highway BB twice as well as a county road at its northern end. At the first crossing, a pit toilet, hand pump and picnic tables offer a shaded rest stop in a hardwood forest. This trail provides benches that overlook wetlands and it winds through grassland punctuated with scattered brush.  There are wooded areas as well. This trail gets very wet in the spring.
  • Red Trail (8.3 miles): The park's longest trail touches on many vegetative types.  On its far north end, the trail gives a nice overview of what much of the park’s topography looked like before the landscape was altered by the Air Force. After the trail leaves the west junction of the Red and Orange loops, it passes through some nice wetland areas before turning east toward the parking lot.  The northern-most portion is the best place in the park to spot bluebirds.

Trails south of Highway 142

You may only hike or ski on these southern trails, no bikes are allowed. Dogs are allowed on a leash 8 feet or less. When trails are snow-covered, dogs are only allowed on the service roads and the portion of the Red Trail north of Highway BB (ask for “A Guide for You and Your Dog” for rules).  Ski trails are not groomed.  When ski tracks are present, please do not walk on them.

  • Green Trail (1.8 miles): The Green Trail is entirely north of Wolf Lake.  A boardwalk between two small ponds is at the start of the trail, a good place to look for waterfowl. This trail travels through a beautiful restored prairie and a small woodlot with good spring wildflowers.  One of the finest overviews of Wolf Lake exists on the return part of the loop, just past the turnoff for the Blue Trail.
  • Blue Trail (4.2 miles): The Blue Trail is one of the nicest trails, it takes you through prairie and woodland, past wetlands and around Wolf Lake. The trail crosses the dam (near Highway 75) that impounds Wolf Lake. Look here for recent beaver activity. The trail just south of the dam dips rather steeply towards the south shore of the lake.  This is an incredible place for spring wildflowers. The trail enters grassland after leaving the shore, skirting several small ponds before crossing the paved access road to the beach. Restrooms, water and a playground are available at the beach.