Variable snow conditions mean people should call ahead for candlelight eventsThe greatest opportunities for people to get out and ski, snowshoe or hike by candlelight will be during the next two weekends with 17 events scheduled at Wisconsin state park and forest properties around the state.
MADISON – The greatest opportunities for people to get out and ski, snowshoe or hike by candlelight will be during the next two weekends with 17 events scheduled at Wisconsin state park and forest properties around the state.
But with this winter’s variable snow conditions, state park officials are encouraging people to call ahead or check the Department of Natural Resources website for updates before heading out for candlelight events.
“We surveyed properties who have events scheduled and most indicated the event would go ahead as hikes if there is not enough snow for skiing or snowshoeing,” said Paul Holtan, state parks, forests and recreation public affairs manager for the DNR. “But events could be cancelled if there are hazardous conditions such as icy or muddy trails or sub-zero temperatures.”
Candlelight events have become some of the most popular winter activities at Wisconsin state parks. A candlelight snowshoe hike at Rib Mountain State Park drew more than 450 people last Saturday and a candlelight ski and grand opening of a new warming shelter at Blue Mound State Park in January attracted more than 1,000 people.
Areas of northern Wisconsin received 6 to 7 inches of snow earlier this week, but that was followed by warmer temperatures and rain over much of the state. The forecast is for some areas of the state to receive additional snow this week, and then for temperatures to drop into the single digits late this week, before moderating for the weekend.
“With the rollercoaster swings in the weather, it’s difficult to predict what conditions we will have the next two weekends, so that is why we suggest people call ahead to confirm events will be held and what conditions are like,” Holtan said.
Most candlelight events are held on fairly easy trails, usually 1 to 2 miles in length that are lit by hundreds of candles, or in some cases by tiki torches. Some events offer cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, others just skiing. Pets are not allowed on groomed trails. Many events also feature bonfires, with most also having food and beverages available.
Most candlelight events are sponsored by friends groups for the different parks, forests or trails, with volunteers from those groups setting out the candles and offering the refreshments for sale as a fundraiser for the property. Daily or annual vehicle admissions stickers are needed for entry into most park and forest properties.
Following the events during the next two weekends, there will still be three additional events the last two weekends of February.
For a list of the events, search for keyword candlelight on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.