Hello. My name is Terra and I have a camping problem. Yes, I’m a camping addict. Camping is one of the ways I can still act like a kid. Only I don’t get to go as much as I want to. Let’s just say I was eager the week before last, to hit the road and go camping. We were headed to a campground that was new to us at Hartman Creek State Park.
Hartman Creek State Park is southwest of Green Bay. I have this habit, a bad habit really, of only heading north for field trips. Friday, as we got closer and closer to our scout pack camping destination and more and more south and west of home, I started asking myself, “Why haven’t we explored this part of the state before? It is gorgeous!”
Hartman Creek State Park
Pulling into Hartman Creek State Park about an hour and a half later, I knew this trip was going to be great. So many trees and the smell, the smell, of the great outdoors and friendly, helpful staff in the welcome center. I was grinning handing over cash to pay for my annual State Park pass. It turned out to be a great way to spend $25.00.
So why did we love it there?
We camped in a group site because it was a scout trip. Our group site, and by the looks of it, the family sites, too, were clean and nicely wooded. It drives me bonkers when we pull into a campsite and the trees are so thin we can see right into our neighbors’ tent.
Things I care about when camping (not necessarily in this order):
- Bathrooms. The vault toilets (I know them as pit toilets, which doesn’t really make you want to use them) were clean and well maintained. There were showers and flush toilets available further out, but we didn’t stay long enough to need them.
- Water. The water source and dumpsters were just a short walk away.
- Fire. The group sites had multiple fire rings and plenty of picnic tables.
There are several lakes at Hartman Creek and plenty of fishing opportunities.
We own three and a half fishing poles, but neither my husband nor I know how to fish well enough to take P. I only know enough to catch the fish, but wouldn’t have the first clue how to get the fish off the hook without killing it. Of course P desperately wants to fish.
It was P’s lucky day that Saturday. Hartman Creek had a fishing program for kids going on at Allen Lake and P was hooked (hardy har har). Park staff had fishing poles all ready to go with bait and help on hand.
P tried fishing for a while with his friend. G, having caught one fish in his life, was the fishing expert in P’s eyes. Of course, G caught the first fish of the day. P got discouraged and decided to try his hand at the casting game for practice. He caught two “fish” right away and his pride was restored.
We didn’t get to swim for long before a cold front moved in and the beautiful sunny weather was replaced with cool, windy rainy weather, but the beach was great. Plenty of sand beach, changing rooms and bathrooms (more pit toilets), a concession stand, canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals and lots of picnic tables on a big grassy area.
Hiking, Biking & Wildlife
Saturday afternoon we went for a hike as a scout pack around Allen Lake on just one of the many hiking and biking trails in the park. We saw herons flying over the lake and decent sized fish swimming close to shore. It was really peaceful and cool walking among the ferns and under the canopy of all those trees. Later in the day we saw a big turtle laying eggs (or about to?). And of course there was the semi-wild, pretty bold raccoon casing our campsite in broad daylight.
Whether you want to bike, hike or ride a horse, there are tons of trails, including part of the Ice Age Trail, throughout the park.
We were lucky to be there while the park was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Hellestad House, originally home to Norwegian immigrants in the 1800s.
Volunteers, dressed in historical costumes served traditional Norwegian cookies and baked goods and musicians played live music while we took a look at the mounted animals and period clothing and belongings on display.
Ultimately we had to leave a day early because of impending severe weather. We packed in a hurry. In the rain. We drove home cold and wet, but satisfied, knowing we’ll be back. And knowing that there’s a lot out there to discover if you sometimes drive in a new direction.