RVers who crave water adventure should add Wisconsin's Peshtigo River State Forest and the Old Veterans Lake Campground to their lists to visit. The Old Veterans Lake Campground is one of the many camping areas in the vicinity, but it is the only campground that allows RV camping. The campground sits along the Old Veterans Lake, a small 11-acre lake that provides a reflective backdrop to many of the camping sites.
The Peshtigo River State Forest is Wisconsin’s newest state forest. The land spans over 9,200 acres of forest and 25 miles of river, providing a habitat for a variety of species, and a recreational haven for nature lovers coming to visit from both near and far. Water recreation is one of the top draws to the forest. There are 16 boat landings for boaters, paddlers, and anglers to access the water, and even though the river has many large dams, it doesn't stop people’s quest for adventure.
The large rapids bring skilled white-water kayakers and canoers, as well as many novice paddlers who are looking for a guided float trip. The Peshtigo River is also a favorite fishing area. The flowages of the river usually attract boat fishers, and the section of the river rated for fly fishing is a Category Five Regulated Trout Water.
The Peshtigo River State Forest is located 40 miles northwest of Marinette and 70 miles north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the northeastern section of the state. From the closest town, Crivitz, the campground is 16.5 miles northwest. The main roads going into the forest include US-141 and WI-180 to the south or east, WI-64 to the south or west, and US-8 or County Road X to the north.
Take your time getting to the campground and enjoy the gorgeous Wisconsin scenery along any of the roads and highways. The most popular scenic highway here is County Road X. Even if you have to go a bit out of your way to drive this road, do it anyway. Parkway Road is another one popular for its scenery, meandering along the river from the south.
Wisconsin state parks assess a daily admission fee for all vehicles entering the facility. The fees support the operation of Wisconsin state parks, forests, and other recreation areas. Guests may purchase a daily or a yearly pass when entering any of the parks, forests, and recreation facilities.
The campground closes between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM. All campers must be in their designated campsites during this time. Because of the forest’s quiet ordinance, no campers may set up or take down camping equipment during these hours.
The Old Veterans Lake Campground is a small campground that accepts reservations for the peak camping season and is a first-come, first-serve facility for the rest of the operating season. During peak season, a minimum camping stay may be required. The individual sites are pet-friendly. The large back-in, gravel driveways accommodate RVs and trailers up to 92 feet in length, and each of them has a fire ring and a picnic table. Each space is a primitive style, but campers have access to hydrants, vault toilets, and dumpsters within the campground.
Many of the spaces offer guests some stunning lake views to wake up to and provide awesome sunsets as well. Bring your camera so you can get some pics to share on your favorite social media sites. Quiet hours are between 11 PM and 6 AM. Campers may not set up or take down camping equipment during these hours. Generators are generally not allowed in Wisconsin State Parks. Contact the park for specific generator questions.
If you can't snag a spot at the Old Veterans Lake Campground, try heading 3.8-miles away to Governor Thompson State Park, which is open all year long and has 100 campsites. Sixteen of these campsites have electric hookups, but the rest are more primitive. There are three separate loops, each with their own vault toilets and drinking water spigot. The campsites all have different length limits from 20 to 88 feet. Check the website to make sure you choose the right one for your needs. After a day of play in the Peshtigo River State Forest, you’ll have plenty of room back at your campsite to cook on the grill atop the campfire ring. There’s a shower house in between all three of the loops just off Campground Road. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to a year in advance. Pets are welcome but must be supervised and restrained at all times.
The Peshtigo River State Forest is known for its excellent snowmobile trails. The trails are well maintained in cooperation with Marinette County and local snowmobile clubs. There are approximately 20 miles of paths that connect with the regional network of trails. The snowmobiling trails open and close, depending on weather conditions. The county offers up-to-date information regarding the status of the snowmobile trails, as do many of the local snowmobile clubs. For details, rental information, and trail specifications, visit the Peshtigo River State Forest website.
The same trails that hikers enjoy during the warmer months are open to cross country skiers during the winter months. There are two areas that visitors commonly use for cross country skiing. The Spring Rapids Trails are groomed for classical and skate skiing. The trails range easy to difficult and vary in length from .63 miles long to 2.5 miles long. Pets are not allowed on this section of trails during the winter. The Seymour Rapids Trail is a three-mile, un-groomed ski trail offering skiers beautiful scenery and plenty of steep hills.
Sportsmen and women who enjoy hunting for whitetail deer, black bear, small game, and migratory birds will enjoy the hunting in and around the Old Veterans Lake Campground. During hunting season, the land in the Peshtigo River State Forest is open for hunting. Hunters who want to stay and hunt near the Old Veterans Lake Campground need to be aware of 100-yard buffer around the campground and hunt only outside of that zone. If trapping is more your style, trap beaver, raccoon, mink, and muskrat within the Peshtigo State Forest.
Winter doesn’t have to be boring out here in the forest. In fact, winter is the only time you can ride your ATVs on the open snowmobile trails. The 0.5-mile Maple Leaf Way, 0.9-mile White Cedar Trail, and 1.1-mile Riverside Trail are all great choices for beginners or those who want a nice easy ride. Try the 0.63-mile Kirby Hills Trail if you want a challenge with steep hills and some wild curves. Always ride with a partner and wear a helmet at all times.
The lush landscape, the lakes, and the river make this area of Wisconsin a prime habitat for many wild animals. Black bears and whitetail deer pass through the state forest, as do other reptiles and amphibians. The bird viewing in the forest is especially plentiful, and a diverse species of waterfowl inhabit the area. Birdwatchers will love the opportunity to see bald eagles, osprey, sandhill cranes, loons, and great blue herons. The park asks that all wildlife watches keep a safe observing distance from birds and other animals, especially the bald eagles and osprey nesting area.
Stay close to your campsite and bring the family to Old Veterans Lake for a day in the sun, sand, and water. The Old Veterans Lake Beach is close to the campground and near vault toilets and drinking water. The lake is known for its clear water, so swimmers who like to see what's around them in the water will love swimming here. If you want to go a little farther from the campground, the Musky Point Beach, located on Caldron Falls, gives swimmers access to grills, picnic tables, benches, and vault toilets.
Hikers who like to stay inside of the campground and have access to amenities within the park can go for a leisurely hike around Old Veterans Lake. The Old Vet’s Lake Loop trail is a one-mile trail accessible from the campground. Hikers who want more of a challenge and don’t mind leaving the campground should try the Spring Rapids Hiking Trails located within the state forest land. Trails range from easy to difficult and vary in length from .63 miles long to 2.5-miles long. Detailed trail information is available on the park’s website or a park map.
Who hasn’t always wanted to dig for buried treasure? Kids are usually the ones with big dreams of treasure hunting, but even grown-ups will enjoy geocaching because it is a chance to get outdoors, exercise, and find a prize. In case you don’t know, a geocache is a small waterproof container that typically contains some little trinkets or toys, a logbook, and a pen. Sign the book, take a trinket, leave your own trinket, and then put the box back exactly where you found it so someone else can have the fun of finding it. The Peshtigo River State Forest has several areas where you can find geocaches. All you have to do is check the geocaching website, grab your phone, and go treasure hunting.