Aug 10, 2017
Marquette County is the perfect blend of gently rolling hills mixed with farmland and woods. The landscape is dotted with over 60 lakes, rivers and streams and is an area that generations have returned to for vacation year after year.
Located only an hour north of Madison, WI, and just minutes east of Wisconsin Dells, Marquette County is a short drive away for anyone looking to get away!
The Fox River flows through the county and is a popular destination for fishermen every spring. Each year, trophy walleye are caught by vertical jigging and pulling Wolf River Rigs. After the walleye run, the white bass head up the river to spawn. If you cast spinners over flats on sunny days, you are sure to fill your cooler! Numerous pike and catfish are also caught in the river throughout the year.
The river flows into Lake Puckaway, which holds the record for the largest pike caught in the state, a whopper at 38 pounds! Bass fishermen from all over Wisconsin and Illinois start their spring tournament season here by taking part in the "Frigid Open" each April. This is also a favorite lake for catching perch, pike and walleye through the ice.
The Fox River also flows through Buffalo Lake in Montello, where the vegetation creates an environment for largemouth bass and pike to thrive. Late summer provides excellent opportunities for punching slop mats and fishing frogs for “bucket mouths.” Perch, bluegill and crappie fishing is also excellent here!
Lake Mason, in Briggsville, is one of the most popular lakes in the area for summer boating and fishermen flock to the lake during the winter for panfishing opportunities.
Just up the road, Lawrence Lake, near Westfield, is home to one of the biggest fisherees in the area, where catching the tagged fish means taking home a great prize, such as an ATV, riding lawnmower or snowmobile!
If you don’t have a boat you can still cast a line, as there are numerous shore fishing opportunities. In downtown Montello, the Krakow Memorial Fishing Area has several fishing piers, including an ADA accessible pier, and hundreds of feet of fishable shoreline along the Fox River and Buffalo Lake. Anglers can also fish from shore on Montello Lake at Montello City Park and on the Fox River two miles south of Montello at the Grand River Wildlife Area. Seven miles south of Montello there is a pier on Ennis Lake at John Muir Park for fishing.
For many years the causeway in Packwaukee, which goes across Buffalo Lake, has been a very popular spot for shore fishermen. In the fall of 2017, it is being reconstructed to have parking lanes and fishing platforms added. This will definitely be a great place to wet a line in 2018!
Harris Pond, located in Harrisville, has a pier and shoreline that can be fished, as does the White River in Neshkoro from Riverview Park. There is also an ADA accessible fishing pier located on the Westfield Mill Pond at Veterans Memorial Park in Westfield.
You could say hunting is a way of life in Marquette County and for deer hunters it is an absolute gem. The county has 343 square miles of deer range, with 6.11 adult bucks being harvested per square mile, ranking the county third in the state!
Upland game hunters are able to enjoy pheasant hunting at several private game farms in the area and at French Creek Wildlife Area, where the DNR releases over 700 pheasants throughout the fall.
Duck and goose hunting has long been a part of the hunting tradition in Marquette County. Since the 1800’s, hunters have built blinds on the shores of Buffalo Lake, Lake Puckaway, Harris Pond and many of the rivers that flow through the county. Both puddle and diving ducks migrate through the county each fall.
Hiking & Birding
With thousands of acres of public land, there are many opportunities for hiking. One of the most popular places to hike south of Montello is Observatory Hill. Here you can see a spectacular panoramic view of the county. The hill is an isolated outcropping of porphyritic rhyolite that rises 300 feet above the surrounding landscape. This volcanic rock has been dated 1.76 billion years ago and contains grooves created by a glacier over 12,000 years ago! Many songbirds can be found here, including Scarlet Tanagers, Red-Eyed Vireos, and Golden-Crowned Kinglets. In the winter you can find Townsend’s Solitaire here.
The Page Creek State Natural Area, located west of Montello is a large wetland that is a staging area for sandhill cranes in the fall before they begin their annual migration. A primitive trail winds through forests and leads to an ancient floating bog and lake. The site is also home to several rare species of plants and amphibians.
There are many trails in the county that are popular for walking and birding. East of Montello is the Apuckawa Birding and Nature Trail that runs through Apuckawa County Park. This .8 mile trail begins at the shore of Lake Puckaway and heads through a hardwood forest and remnant prairie. Not only can you find white squirrels here, but in 2011, birders recorded 116 species of birds, including the yellow-bellied sapsucker, eastern pewee and red-headed woodpecker.
The Neshkoro Pines at Stan-O-Gene Park, just north of Neshkoro, has trails that range from .75 miles to 1.25 miles long. Trails can also be found at the Pioneer Memorial Park in Westfield. Birds that can be found in the Westfield and Neshkoro areas include wild turkeys, white-breasted nuthatch and eastern bluebirds.
Speaking of parks, Marquette County is home to many wonderful places for picnics and simply relaxing. John Muir County Park, located south of Montello, is the boyhood home of the famous naturalist and draws visitors from across the country every year.
Considered the father of the National Parks System, more than once Muir tried to buy this property where he and his family farmed in the 1800's so he could preserve it. It finally became a park in 1957. This 150-acre park features a trail that circles 30-acre Ennis Lake and passes through 7 different habitats. The lake is popular for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Visitors should note that the operation of outboard motors is prohibited on the lake.
Daggett Park, in downtown Montello, provides a great backdrop for pictures with several waterfalls cascading over the hardest granite in the world! Granite from this quarry was used for many famous monuments, including Grant’s Tomb.
The Endeavor Village Park is home to a local mud bog competition each July during Broilerfest. It is also home to one of the county Veteran Memorial Sites, where you can see a M60A3 tank and a UH-1 Huey helicopter.
In addition to the trails at Pioneer Memorial Park in Westfield, in late summer 2017, ground will be broken for a new splash pad near the playground. You can also bring water jugs along on your visit and walk across the street to the artesian well that flows year-round. Take home some of the best water you will ever find!
The Oxford Village Park is where you will find a multi-day 4th of July Celebration. You don’t want to miss the rides, music, bean-bag tournaments, kids Olympics and, of course, a spectacular fireworks display! The park also offers ball diamonds, tennis courts, volleyball courts and a great playground.
Fireman’s Park, in Harrisville, is also home to a great 4th of July event. Always held on the 4th, festivities kick off with one of the wettest parades you will ever experience! Not only do floats and fire trucks spray the crowd, but the crowd fires back with squirt guns and water balloons! After the parade, walk up to Sportsman’s Club for a BBQ chicken dinner and pie. Spend the afternoon at the tractor pull and enjoy the fireworks at night!
For music lovers, Riverview Park in Neshkoro is where concerts are held throughout the summer. In October, you can really get into the harvest season at Scarecrow Fest. The park is filled with unique scarecrows and crafters and vendors line the streets with many unique gifts for sale.
Marquette County offers miles of tranquil waterways for a peaceful day of paddling in your canoe or kayak. The Fox and Mecan Rivers are popular waterways, along with Ennis Lake at John Muir Park and Birch (Moon) Lake, west of Montello. If you don’t own a canoe or kayak, there are several businesses in the area that offer rentals.
If you are an ATV enthusiast, we’ve got something special for you! You can travel throughout the county on over 300 miles of ATV/UTV road routes! The routes connect several communities, where you can get gas, grab a bite to eat or relax at a park.
We welcome the cold, as there are many activities to do in the winter. Snowmobilers can ride over 240 miles of marked and groomed trails crossing farmland, woods, lakes and rolling hills.
Cross-country skiers can blaze their own trail through thousands of acres of public lands or ski privately owned groomed trails that wind through woods, marshes and flat lands.
Not only can you head out on the lakes to catch a meal through the ice, but you can also watch competitors from miles around put their driving skills to the test at the ice races. Held on both Buffalo Lake and Lake Puckaway, you can watch cars and ATV’s race around the tracks every weekend after the first of the year until ice out.
Attractions and Tours
If you are a history buff, you can’t miss the John Muir Nature and History Route. Travel to 22 sites throughout the county to see areas that are still similar to what they looked like in the 1800’s. Learn about the paddleboats that used to make their way up the Fox River or how now multi-generation farms were established in the area. Make it a fun adventure for the family by printing off worksheets for the kids to complete at each stop. Go to muirboyhoodhome.toursphere.com to learn about each of the stops on the route.
The Barn Quilts and Hidden History Murals are a great way to see the countryside. There are over 30 quilts that are up to 8’ x 8’ and numerous murals representing local history painted on the sides of buildings. Check out barnquiltsandmurals.com to learn more!
The southern end of the county is home to a large Amish community. There you can find greenhouses, bulk food stores, fresh produce, hand crafted furniture and bakeries. Most stores are closed on Sunday and Thursday.
In downtown Montello, you will want to check out “The Big Tree,” when last measured in the late 1970’s, this stately cottonwood stood 138 feet tall and had a circumference of 23 feet! It is listed as one of the top ten biggest trees in Wisconsin!
Dining and Lodging
Marquette County has a place to stay for everyone! Find a quiet room at one of our quaint motels or resorts. If you like to sleep under the stars, there are numerous campgrounds to pitch your tent or park your RV. There are also many cabins and cottages available to rent.
While you are here you will want to check out our supper clubs and locally owned diners. You will find steaks cooked to perfection, burgers seasoned just right and, of course, fish fry’s that are second to none!
Plan your trip
If you are ready to plan your next getaway, go to travelmarquettecounty.com for more information on recreation, shopping, dining and lodging. You can also call 608-297-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information or to have a brochure and map sent to you. We look forward to your visit!