Somers Lake Recreation Area – A Day In The Woods

This past Sunday I woke up at home and realized I didn’t have anything to occupy my day.  My wife was out of town, our pet dog was with her, and I had nothing I needed to take care of that was pressing.  So I quickly grabbed my medium Alice Pack that I keep some basic kit in, my Marlin Model 60 .22, and jumped into my Ford Escape.  My mind was on the Somers Lake Recreation Area located in Polk County Wisconsin.

Years ago my parents owned a lake home on the east side of Somers Lake.  I would spend time at the large forested area on the west side, which is the Somers Lake Rec Area.

It had been four for five years since I had last been there, and I was wanting to see it again.  My drive there took about ninety minutes.  The forecast for the day mentioned a mostly cloudy morning with sun by midday and a high in the upper 60s.

The Somers Lake Recreation Area, Polk County Wisconsin

I wish I could give you some information about how this piece of land came to be part of the Polk Country Forest System.  Sunday night after my day in the woods I emailed the Polk County Parks Office and asked them for some information but so far have need seen a reply.  It has only been a few days, so when and if I get a response I will update this post accordingly.

As with all the Polk Country Forest land, it’s open to the public for various uses; hiking, skiing, biking, hunting, wildlife watching…etc…  Some of the county land has limitations, and this one does not allow ATVs, campfires, or camping.

When using public land, make sure it is open to the style of recreation you are desiring to do.

Trail Head

The parking area for the Somers Lake Recreation Area is nice sized and can accommodate about 15 vehicles, though the lot would be packed at that point.  Whenever I’ve been there over the years I’ve only seen one or two cars parked there.  This past Sunday I had the entire forest to myself.

There are a few picnic tables there, along with a hand pump for getting fresh water.  A vault toilet is also available to use, and there are some trash cans as well.  In the southeast corner of the lot there is a large apple tree.  When I was there this past weekend they were looking pretty ripe, but all the apples were to high to pick, otherwise I would grabbed a couple for a snack on my hike.

Whenever I have been there the trail head has always been well maintained; grass cut, trash bins empty, trees groomed.

Somers Lake Recreation Area - Dried up creek bed
Somers Lake Recreation Area – Dried up creek bed

The Trails

Whenever I have been there the trails had been trimmed and groomed.  They are very easy to follow.  As long as you stay on the trails and know which way is east and west, and know that your car is parked to the west, you should never get lost.

The map above shows various trail difficulty.  As you get further back into the property there are some more aggressive hills and dried creek beds to traverse.  If you take your time on the hills and slow down to rest if you need to, you should be able to handle the terrain without too much trouble.

I had with me a medium Alice Pack hauling about twenty pounds of kit, as well as my light .22 rifle (the intent was to squirrel hunt and make some pot pies back at home).  I’m in need of loosing about seventy pounds, and I didn’t have any trouble hoofing it on the trails.

There was one section of trail about half way in the Rec Area where the trail had been washed out.  The wash out was about six feet deep and six feet across.  I stupidly decided I could jump across it instead of finding a place off trail where there wasn’t a washout.

To make a long story short, yes, I made it across, but just barely.  I tend to forget I am forty three and overweight.  It would have been easier had I taken off my pack and tossed it across first, then jumped.  But no, I’m stupid.  On may back I found a spot thirty yards into the woods were the washout wasn’t present and crossed there.

Be smart when in the woods alone, not dumb like I was.  Had I fallen into the washout I could have been hurt.  Dumb to risk it.  But the problem was that I didn’t recognize the risk, thinking I could easily jump my fat butt across.  Just barely.

From the trail head to the bench seen on the map is about 1.5 miles.  Not a long hike, but a fun one.

The bench sits atop a large hill that overlooks Somers Lake.  The lake is hard to see when there are leaves on the trees.  But is easily noticed in late Autumn and of course the winter months.

The woods has a lot of white oak and maple, and there is some old growth.  I marveled at some impressive looking white oaks during my trek.

My twig stove and Zebra Pot, heating up some water
My twig stove and Zebra Pot, heating up some water

Lunch At The Bench

I took my time hiking my way east towards the bench on the map.  Took me over an hour as I stopped to take some pictures and look at a few of the sites along the way.  There are some dried up creek beds along the way.  I am sure the creeks are underground, but during the spring thaw and heavy rain they likely babble and gurgle.  I’ve never seen them flowing, but want to head there in the spring during the thaw after a winter of heavy snow.

I kicked up a few deer along my hike, saw a few hawks and heard their screeches as well.  Lots of tree frogs.  But no squirrels, nor did I stop to actively hunt them.  To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I was in the mood to hunt.  I brought the .22 along just in case.

When I reached the bench I was ready for a break.  I sat down and slowly drank a water from my canteen while I listened and watched the woods around me.  There was a gentle breeze blowing out of the northwest, which was bringing the cooler temperatures of the day.  It was nice to be out in the woods and away from the sights and sounds of ‘the modern man made world’.

I brought along in my pack a twig stove and a Zebra Pot, among some other things.  So after my break I gathered up a handful of twigs and kindling and set up my twig stove on the ground.  I used some dry leaves along with ferro rod to start a fire in the stove, then adding in the small pieces of kindling.

Twig stoves are awesome.  Easy to carry, make quick cooking fires, and are contained inside the stainless steel stove.  I added some water to my Zebra Pot and in about four minutes had it boiling.  It doesn’t take long.

I brought along a Mountain Home dehydrated meal and added the hot water to it.  A few minutes later the twig stove fire had burned itself down and I was eating a simple lunch.  I had some peanuts along as well and snacked on them as well.

After about ninety minutes at the bench I packed up my gear and began my hike out.

 

Final Thoughts

I could have easily sat around the house on Sunday, but the sudden spark to head into the woods hit me.  Before I thought it through too much I was on the road with some gear in my vehicle.

I try to keep my medium Alice Pack always ‘ready’ with some basic kit in it and ready to go.  All I need to do when the mood hits me to head into the woods is grab it from my gear closet.

I’ll be doing a blog post in the near future on the things I carry in my day bag.  Be sure to come back and look for that post.  When I write it I will be sure to link it to this entry as well so it’s easy to find.

I had a really good time Sunday.  Getting out of the house like I did was the best thing for me.  Time spent in the woods for me is therapeutic.  I find that I can instantly relax and let the worries of bills and work slip from my mind.

Get online and looks for public land in your area.  Find a State Park, County Forest, Federal Park Land, Township Property… whatever it may be, and get outside.

If you have been to the Somers Lake Recreation Area please share your experience in the comment section below.

TD

TD

TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand, www.folklore-coffee.com.

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