From Ice Age glacial moraine landscapes to the quartzite bluffs of Devil's Lake to the steep hills and valleys of the the Driftless Area, southern Wisconsin is a wonderful place to explore on foot. There may not be any mountains, but the area has a lovely scenic value all its own.
Unlike other Meetup groups, this is an ADVANCED hiking group, the hikes that I do are NOT suitable for the beginner or out-of-shape hiker. Since there aren't any mountains or canyons in Wisconsin to provide a real hiking challenge, I make up for the lack of significant elevation change by doing very long hikes of 15 or more miles at a very fast 4 mph average walking pace, something I call "power hiking". Simply put, if you are not capable of doing this, then you will not be able to keep up with me, and this group is not for you. Sorry to be blunt, but I do these hike as my main form of exercise and to keep me in shape for the truly challenging hikes that I like to do out in the western mountaind and canyons. They aren't meant to be group social walks or slow nature walks.
This also a day hiking group, no camping or backpacking is done, all the hikes are "done in a day". There are actually relatively few areas in Wisconsin that offer true backpacking opportunities, and even the completed off-road parts of the Ice Age Trail that runs through the state are broken into short car-accessible segments that can be done as day hikes. The hikes are done on weekends and in the daytime, i.e,. no night or early-morning hikes.
This is a Madison-based group, so the principal hiking area is centered on Madison, in a a rough rectangle stretching from the Kettle Moraine State Forest in the east, to Governor Dodge State Park in the west, to Mirror Lake State Park in the north, and to Yellowstone Lake State Park in the south. Occasionally long hikes will be done outside this area, these will involve driving for 1.5 to 3 hours both to reach the location and to return home.
I usually do two hikes per weekend. The featured hike will be a long one of 12-17 miles in length, sometimes extending all the way to 20 miles and even beyond in some cases. The other hike that I do on the weekend will be a shorter one, typically around 8-10 miles in length in a place close to the Madison area. This hike acts as a "warmup" for the long hike the next day. Sometimes the short hike will only be around 5-6 miles long, this usually will be called a "power walk" and is a very-fast paced non-stop walk in a park in the immediate Madison vicinity.
Oh, this is also a year-round hiking group, as winter is no reason to stop hiking, so put on a pair of snowshoes and get outdoors and hike those snow-covered trails! Winter hikes will tend to be shorter ones, as walking on snow, especially fresh powder, requires much more effort than on dry ground. If there isn't any snow on the ground, then hikes will continue as though it was still late fall, just being a little colder. Winter can be a great time to hike, as there is no humidity and the bugs are gone, plus you can see the landscape features through the bare trees.