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Candlelight events kicked off Jan. 5, but there are dozens of more events throughout January and February. Be sure to check the candlelight ski events page of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website for specific activities going on at each park. Most events are for cross-country skiing and hiking or snowshoeing only, but a few properties only offer skiing or hiking or snowshoeing. Snowshoeing and hiking are done on separate lit trails from ski trails, as hiking is not allowed on cross-country ski trails once they are groomed for skiing. Most of the trails lit with candles range from 1 to 2 miles in length.
Many of the events held throughout the winter include additional activities, such as bonfires and hot chocolate and other refreshments for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Many of the events are organized by friends groups for the parks, which provide the much of the volunteer labor for the events.
Candlelight events have become some of the most popular winter activities at Wisconsin state park properties. An estimated 1,500 people turned out for a candlelight event at Blue Mound State Park last February, the largest turnout ever at the park. About 900 people turned out for a candlelight ski and hike at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and more than 800 turned out for an event at Willow River State Park. The Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, which does not have cross-country ski trails, attracted 215 visitors for a candlelight snowshoe hike.