Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings.

Early American settlers described the marsh as an impenetrable wilderness which people traveled around, not through. It was a rich combination of sedge meadow and marsh with wild rice, cranberry, and blueberry. The Rock River served as a natural fire break between the deciduous forests to the east of Horicon Marsh and tallgrass prairie and oak savanna (grasslands with scattered bur oak trees) to the west.

Today, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the northern two-thirds of the 32,000 acre Horicon Marsh (22,000 acres). Of that, about 17,000 acres is wetland habitat, 4,000 acres is upland grasslands and approximately 500 acres is woodland. Known as the largest freshwater marsh in the United States, it is home to more than 300 species of birds and a diversity of other wildlife species.

Many opportunities exist to enjoy Horicon National Wildlife Refuge including opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, hiking, fishing, educational programs, guided tours, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, deer and upland game hunting and trapping.

Driving Directions

The office and visitor center is located on the east side of Horicon Marsh, 3.5 miles south of State Highway 49 on County Road Z.

W4279 Headquarters Road
Mayville, WI 53050

From Madison: Take U.S. 151 north to WI-49. East to County Road Z. 3.5 miles south to Headquarters Road

From Milwaukee: Take U.S. 41 north to WI-49. West to County Road Z. 3.5 miles south to Headquarters Road

From Green Bay: Take U.S. 41 south to WI-49. West to County Road Z. 3.5 miles south to Headquarters Road

From Portage: Take Hwy 33 east to County Road A. East to U.S. 151 north. 151 north to WI-49. East to County Road Z. 3.5 miles south to Headquarters Road

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside the refuge visitor center and at the Hwy 49 viewing area near the intersection of County Road Z. Pit toilets are open year round at the auto tour and hiking trails located off Hwy 49 near Marsh Haven Nature Center.

Points of Interest

Let our staff and volunteers at the refuge visitor center help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here. Visitors can watch a 15 minute refuge orientation video, browse exhibits and obtain maps and brochures. While there, visit the Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Coot’s Corner Bookstore for field guides, t-shirts and other educational items.

Please note there are three visitor centers located at Horicon Marsh:

  • Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) located off County Road Z
  • Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources), which hosts the new Explorium exhibits, located off Hwy 28
  • Marsh Haven Nature Center (non-profit) located off Hwy 49

What To Do

If you have 15 minutes

  • Stop in the visitor center
  • Hike the visitor center trail
  • Stop at the Hwy 49 viewing area and hike the trail
  • Drive the 3 mile auto tour

If you have one hour

  • Stop in the visitor center
  • Drive the 3 mile auto tour
  • Hike the Egret Trail Floating Boardwalk

If you have half a day or more

  • Stop in the refuge visitor center
  • Drive the 3 mile auto tour
  • Hike the Egret Trail Floating Boardwalk and other trails near the auto tour
  • Kayak the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area off Hwy 28

Know Before You Go

  • Many amenities are available within a few miles of the refuge
  • Lodging, camping, dining and other local recreation and events information may be found at Dodge County Tourism
  • Canoe and kayak rental for use on the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area as well as guided boat tour information may be found at Horicon Marsh Boat Tours
  • Garbage cans on the refuge are limited - please practice "pack it in, pack it out"

Activities

Visitors enjoy many activities at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge including wildlife observation, photography, hiking, fishing, educational programs, guided tours, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and deer and upland game hunting. Trapping is also an approved use on the refuge. For activity specific information, see refuge brochures for seasonal access and site-specific information.

Trails

Redhead Trail

Open season: Open year round - Walking spring to fall, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Not open to biking.
Length: 2 miles - connects to Red Fox hiking trail for additional mileage
Location of trail: Accessed from the main parking lot of the refuge auto tour off Hwy 49
Surface: Mowed path
Difficulty: Inclines and cross slopes of more than 5%, uneven terrain
Information: Loops through prairie, marsh and forest habitats. Offers views of the Rock River.

Egret Trail

Open season: Open year round - Walking year round. Not open to biking. Parking access limited during the winter.
Length: 1 mile
Location of trail: Accessed from the midway parking lot of the refuge auto tour off Hwy 49
Surface: Asphalt, boardwalk, crushed gravel
Difficulty: Smooth, level surfaces, no slope more than 5% grade
Information: Boardwalk leads out into marsh habitat and loops back through an oak forest to the parking area. Excellent site for viewing woodland wildflowers in May.

Red Fox Trail

Open season: Open year round - Walking spring to fall, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Not open to biking.
Length: 1 mile - connects to Egret and Redhead hiking trails for additional mileage
Location of trail: Accessed from the midway parking lot of the refuge auto tour off Hwy 49
Surface: Mowed path
Difficulty: Minimal inclines more than 5% grade, non ADA-compliant
Information: Loops through prairie and forest habitats

Bud Cook Hiking Trail

Open season: Open year round - Walking spring to fall, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Not open to biking or hunting.
Length: 2 miles
Location of trail: Located off Point Rd. off county Road Z
Surface: Mowed path
Difficulty: Incline more than 5% grade
Information: Trail winds down the hillside through grassland/flowering prairie plants and loops back to parking lot

Discovery Trail

Open season: Open year round - Walking spring to fall, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Not open to biking or hunting.
Length: 1 mile gravel plus 1 mile of mowed grass path for increased mileage
Location of trail: Visitor center off County Road Z
Surface: Crushed gravel, boardwalk 
Difficulty: ADA compliant
Information: Trail loops through prairie and marsh habitat. Unique features include nature play structures, stone amphitheater, boardwalk, and 

Old Marsh Road

Open season: Open seasonally for biking and hiking access from June through August and open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing from December 1 through March 15
Length: 3 miles
Location of trail: Accessed from Point Road on the east or the auto tour and trails area off Hwy 49 from the west
Surface: Rock
Difficulty: No inclines or cross slopes more than 5% grade. Fairly even terrain. 
Information: Refuge service road that bisects the interior of the marsh. Closed to public access in spring and fall for the migration seasons.

Main Dike Road

Open season: Eastern portion (two-level gravel road) open to driving spring through fall. Closed to vehicles during winter. Western portion (gravel) open year round for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. 
Length: 2 miles open for driving. 1.5 open for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 
Location of trail: Accessed from Rockvale Road or County Road TW on the east or from Hwy 26 on the west.
Surface: Gravel
Difficulty: Uneven terrain, not suitable for road bicycles. Western portion of trail may be impassable after heavy rains.
Information: Refuge service road that bisects the marsh. Offers views of marsh and woodland habitat as well as migrating birds and other wildlife.
 

Other Facilities in the Complex

Locations

Horicon National Wildlife Refuge
W4279 Headquarters Road Mayville, WI 53050-1931
Hours
Public Use Area Hours
Daily, year round
Dawn - dusk
Regular Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
April - November Hours
Monday - Saturday (plus Sundays in October)
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Federal Holiday Hours
Open on July 4, Labor Day and Columbus Day
Closed all other federal holidays