Beauty, natural and manmade, is at Schmeekle Reserve in Stevens Point. Schmeekle (pronounced Scmeek-lee) Reserve in central Wisconsin features 280 acres of wetlands, towering oaks, bicycle and walking trails and quiet places to sit on beautiful hand-carved wooden benches. Utilized as an outdoor laboratory for the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, the land was first donated by Fred Schmeekle in 1958 who envisioned an “island of green” in the city. And, it serves precisely as that offering shady respite even on the sunniest of days.
Five miles of trails and boardwalks surround lakes and wetlands and wind through forest, prairie and oak savannahs. The half-mile Trail of Reflections near the reserve’s visitor center features famous sayings, a swing that overlooks a pond, and a sort of treehouse accessible by steps rising into the canopy. White-tailed deer, fox, wild turkey, flying squirrels, American Woodcock, pileated wood peckers and frogs are among the wildlife that may be seen in Schmeekle. Scenic Lake Joanis (24 acres) is surrounded by a one-mile loop trail. It offers fishing, canoeing and wildlife viewing, but no motors are allowed.
Schmeekle Reserve Visitor Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and offers free parking, a Land of Wealth Museum chronicling Wisconsin’s natural richness and the dangers game wardens faced. Kids may enjoy jumping into the seat of a warden’s vehicle and hearing him face-off with animal poachers. The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame (www.wchf.org), highlighted by six or so short films, shares some of the conservationists’ accomplishments. The Green Circle Trail headquarters, public programs, a meeting room, and gift shop featuring a few aquariums also are in the Visitor Center.
For more information, call 715-346-4992 or visit www.uwsp.edu/schmeekle.