Taking Advantage of Outdoor Activities in Marathon County Amid a Pandemic

Written by Jenna Flynn

You may not be ready to go into a crowded space yet. You may have feelings of anxiety and just downright frustration. I get it. I’ve struggled with it too at times.

But I’ve found the silver lining…

The expression “every cloud has a silver lining” means that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect. The origin of the phrase seems to be John Milton’s 1634 poem “Comus,” which includes the line:

“Was I deceived? or did a sable cloud/Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

I’ve decided to adopt the mindset of thinking about what I CAN do with my time now, instead of feeling disheartened about the limitations that we’re all experiencing.

For example, last year, my husband and I attended 11 weddings. (Yes, 11!) And while the joys of these weddings were wonderful, traveling every weekend quickly became exhausting. What’s more, my plants died due to a lack of water. Our dog was often in the kennel. There were no relaxing campfires had. It was just GO, GO, GO!

This summer looks much different, though…

Nearly every weekend we’re free now, and we’ve been appreciating the outdoors more than ever before. In fact, my family often jokes on Sundays when we see Highway 51 packed with vehicles leaving the Northwoods and driving south back to their homes:

“How lucky are we to live in Vacationland? We don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy the boundless beauty of nature and green spaces all around us.”

Marathon County is such a beautiful place to live with TONS of options for enjoying the outdoors. We can choose to spend time with our family and friends at any of:

These are open now for activities like hiking, biking, boating, camping, fishing, birdwatching, disc golf, and more.

I challenge you to click the links above to learn more about a County Park or County Forest — preferably one that you’ve never visited before — and make a day of being a tourist right here in Marathon County!

There’s nothing better than the crisp morning air after a cool evening or the smell in the woods just after it’s rained… all of which can be enjoyed in Marathon County Parks and Forests.

Burma Road County Forest Unit and ATV trail. (Photo courtesy of Marathon County.)

And while many pools may be closed, several County Parks feature beaches or swimming areas, such as Eau Claire Dells, Sunnyvale, Cherokee, Mission Lake, Big Eau Pleine, and others. (NOTE: While County Parks remain open, only some restrooms are open. View a list of open restrooms here.)

Located on the western border of Marathon County, Cherokee Park in Colby boasts 69 acres of parkland, including fishing and swimming opportunities afforded by the Big Eau Pleine River. (Photo courtesy of Marathon County.)

Visit the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation & Forestry (PRF) Department’s Facebook page for more outdoor ideas…

For example, a new Trail Tale has just come to Marathon Park! Now you can read the story Old McDonald Had a Truck on the laminated pages posted on stands along the north side of the park’s walking trail, starting at the pedestrian entrance on Stewart Avenue near the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point at Wausau and going west to the main vehicle entrance to the park on Stewart Avenue.

The PRF Department also is running a 100 Days of Play program this summer suggesting weekly activities, field trips, scavenger hunts, and more to encourage families to explore our beautiful City and County Parks. Visit their Facebook page for Week 5’s challenge, which is all about water safety. It includes tips for being safe around water; directions for the game Drip, Drip, Drop; and a suggested visit to Blue Gill Bay Park in Wausau to see the new fishing pier.

2020 100 Days of Play Week 5 June 21 to 27

The health benefits of being outside are endless:

  • Lessens anxiety and offers a safe, social activity
  • Provides you with a source of exercise and Vitamin D
  • Can improve your sleep, self-esteem, focus, immunity, and creativity

What a great way to get out of the house for some fresh air and physical activity to keep your mind and body healthy this summer while practicing social distancing.


The PRF Department asks everyone to please continue to follow social distancing practices and to help us keep our parks and forests clean so they can remain open and available for all to enjoy.

In addition, the PRF Department offers these reminders as of June 2020:

  1. Boat launches are open; annual or daily boat launch passes are required.
  2. Campgrounds opened on May 1. Group campsites are open for June reservations and beyond. Social distancing is recommended.
  3. Memorial Park’s and Big Eau Pleine Park’s disc golf courses are open.
  4. Organized sports and contact sports are allowable with social distancing.
  5. Shelter rentals are available beginning in June.
  6. The Duane L. Corbin Shooting Range is open.
  7. Pickleball nets and tennis nets are now installed at all parks.
  8. All parks remain open, but only some restrooms are open. (View a list of open restrooms at the time of publication.)
  9. Wausau City Pools will not open for the 2020 season per Wausau City Council decision on June 9.
  10. The Marathon Park Splash Pad will remain closed for the 2020 season.

These conditions are subject to change. For updates, follow @wmcprf on Facebook or visit the PRF Department’s webpage. And be sure to visit the Marathon County Health Department’s Facebook page for updates and tips on the virus.

While things have changed due to the pandemic, and many of us feel as though we’re missing out on certain traditions and activities this summer, now is the perfect time to try a new way to spend time with friends and loved ones.

The peace and enjoyment that being outside give me are something that I hope you’ll be able to relish in Marathon County this summer, too.

Be well.

Jenna_FlynnJenna Flynn

Public Health Educator | Marathon County Health Department

Tobacco Control Coordinator | Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition

Jenna Flynn is a Public Health Educator with the Marathon County Health Department and serves as the Tobacco Control Coordinator for the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Health. She grew up in Northern Wisconsin and is proud to serve the central region. In her free time, Jenna enjoys coaching and playing volleyball, cooking, and participating in the many outdoor activities that Wisconsin has to offer.  Email Jenna Flynn.

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