Description - Located on the eastern shore one of the largest inland lakes in the country, 215-square-mile Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park features towering 200-foot cliffs that provide extended views to Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, Appleton, and Kaukauna. The eastern shoreline tract is a segment of the Niagara Escarpment that extends northeast through Door County Peninsula up to Niagara Falls, New York. Locals refer to the glacial area as "the ledges" referencing the dolomite rock which peaks at 223 feet above the lake's surface. Additionally, this 1956 park is known for its 1,500-year-old Indian effigy mounds denoting animals and geometric shapes including a 285-foot panther.
Copyright: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
High Cliff State Park, Tower View
- High Cliff State Park, located on recreation-rich Lake Winnebago, offers 112 family campsites along with eight group sites. About a third of the campsites offer electric hookup. Picnic tables, gravel pads, showers, playground, pay telephone and drinking water are provided. Firewood is sold separately. Camping reservations are available online or by calling a toll-free reservation number. Contact information is listed below.
The park's day use area consist of museum and general store, picnic ground, marina, and nature center, and several scenic trails. The museum features historical displays from the early 1900s including farm implements, and vintage clothing. To the rear of the general store the rustic nature center awaits. Visitors will find a host of park printed material highlighting the area's native wildlife flowers, wildlife, the Indian mounts and more. Children giggle in delight with the hands-on nature table and are especially attracted to the live fish tanks, various bird nests, deer pelt and badger mount. Historic artifacts and a few antiques enhance the atmosphere of this already quaint structure. Ranger-led interpretive programs and guided hikes teach visitors about their historic surroundings. Open only in summer, museum hours are Saturday and Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM.
A 40-foot observation tower is located near the park pavilion offering panoramic views of the massive lake, the lakeside cities and the expansive countryside. Beneath the observation tower is a large picnic pavilion with fireplace. Nearby is a children's playground and a smattering of picnic tables. Also accessible from the observation tower area is the 3.7-mile Red Bird Hiking Trail which features the 12-foot bronze statue of the Winnebago Indian chief Red Bird.
Other park hikes include Lime-Kiln Trail, a 2.3-mile path starting at the ruins of tall stone ovens that were used between 1895 and 1956. Indian Mound Trail is a short and easy path exploring the ancient Indian mounds. Forest Management Trail is a 1.3 self-guided interpretive walk through the forest. Equestrians have their own designated parking area near the family campground. The 8.5-mile High Cliff Horse Trail is a seasonal trail open May to November.
The marina at High Cliff State Park offers two ramps, overnight docking, mooring, luncheon items, camping supplies, bug repellent, ice and souvenirs. Fishing Lake Winnebago rewards anglers with catches of walleye, perch, white bass, sheepshead, and sauger. Seasons and hot spots vary. Advice is available from park personnel and local bait shops. The marina does offer shoreline fishing particularly around the breakwall where deep pools hold spring and fall walleye.
The beach is a popular summer destination providing bathhouse and showers, swings and merry-go-round, picnic tables and shelters, roped swimming area, and grassy sunbathing spot.
During the winter months, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and ice fishing are popular pursuits. Approximately five miles of marked trail are open to snowmobiles and four miles of groomed track are made available to cross-country skiers.
Recreation - Folks visiting High Cliff State Park enjoy scenic viewing, boating, canoeing, fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, historical exhibits, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Climate - Southeast Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southeast Region can range from 20 - 50". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
High Cliff State Park is located six miles east of Menasha off Highway 114.