Recreation

The Portage Park & Recreation Department provides year-round activities for the whole family, including fitness classes, softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball, martial arts, soccer and tennis. Plus, 15 City parks offer a variety of amenities, such as athletic fields and courts, spaces for picnicking and grilling, playground equipment, boat landings, nature walking and plenty of open play areas. For more information about their programs, call 608-742-2178.

Bikers from SeattleBike

Biking enthusiasts have a great reason to come to our area and explore Columbia County. We have recently completed a map featuring 14 different bike loops that use the scenic roads of our county to offer bicyclists a wealth of natural views of wetlands, valleys, rivers, lakes and wildlife areas. The routes were developed with the cooperation of the Columbia County Silent Sports Trails Committee and the Columbia County Highway Department. Please note the routes are traffic routes, not designated biking trails, and we urge bicyclists to wear helmets and ride with caution. Click here for the bicycle loop map.

emmy on paddleboard

Water

Having fun on the water is a favorite warm-weather pastime for residents and visitors. Boaters hit the waters of the Wisconsin River and swimmers enjoy a day at Silver Lake Beach in Portage, which offers a wide, sandy beach, wading, swimming and diving opportunities for the whole family. A life guard is on duty at the beach Memorial Day through Labor Day. An indoor pool is located next to Rusch Elementary School at 117 W. Franklin Street. The Splash Pad, located next to Rusch Elementary at Goodyear Park, keeps youngsters cool from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The pad is open from 10am until 8pm. To rent the shelter at the Splash Pad, or other park shelters, call the Portage Park & Recreation Department at 608-742-2178.

Many outdoor enthusiasts enjoy canoeing or kayaking the Fox River. Drop in at the Agency House and paddle up to Governors Bend and points farther north for a great summertime adventure. Or plan a trip with the Sand County Water Trail guide as your companion. The Sand County Water Trail is part of series of water and walking guides published by Portagepaths.org. “Paddle into History, Walk into History” is their moto. This trail guide details the rich history of the Wisconsin River in the Wisconsin Dells and Portage area. Geology, Native American, Wildlife, Leopold, Muir are just few of the subjects covered. A must read for the historical explorer!

Campers and canoeing enthusiasts alike can enjoy a leisurely paddling trip down the Historic Fox River. Trips depart at Indian Trails Campground where the Fox River meanders through the south end of the campground. Paddle a canoe, solo kayak or tandem kayak on a 1 ½ – 2 hour trip to the DNR landing on the south shore of Swan Lake or a 3 – 4 hour trip to the spot near Portage where in 1673 explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet made the short portage from the Fox River to the Wisconsin River. Their shuttle service will bring you, your gear and boat back to Indian Trails. It’s a great way to spend quality time with friends and family and get back to nature. Call ahead to reserve your paddling trip when you make your camping reservations at 608-429-3244.

Swan Lake, located just three miles east of Portage, is a great place to waterski, tube, cast a line or relax. When you need a break, find a table on the deck overlooking the beautiful lake at North Shore restaurant and enjoy have a delicious lunch or dinner.

Explore the places and people that make up the unique Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway region. Browse our growing list of Parkway destinations and trails, uncovering the history behind them. Whether you want to experience what life was like as a fur trader, learn the art of papermaking, paddle the sparkling waters of the Wisconsin River or spend a day visiting the unique shops and cafes of our riverside communities—there is something here for you!

Chamber golf Blau puttingGolf

The most avid golfers will find all the challenge they need at several courses in the Portage area. You can try your luck at the 18-hole course at Portage Country Club or the nine-hole course at Saddle Ridge Golf Club. These courses will provide golf enthusiasts with hours of recreation.

Ice Age TrailHike

The Ice Age Trail is one of eleven Congressionally-designated National Scenic Trails located throughout the U.S. The trail meanders through 31 Wisconsin counties, along the terminal moraine left by a glacier over 10,000 years ago. The Heritage Trail Chapter in Columbia County maintains more than 12 miles, boasts 21 hand-built bridges and showcases the intersections of prairie, wetlands and waterways.

cascade kidsPhoto 3 - Curlingcascade hills

Winter fun

When the air turns chilly, skiers and boarders in Portage are lucky to have the highly rated Cascade Mountain just four miles from town. Offering free skiing to kids 12 & under accompanied by a paid adult. Cascade’s north-facing slopes offer real skiing variety. Some of the 36 trails are steep and challenging to any skier, while others are over a mile long and fun for beginners. Getting to the top of the mountain is fast and easy with ten lifts, including the high-speed quad Mountain Top Express chairlift.

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular pastimes on the grounds of the Historic Indian Agency House and Pine Trail Golf Course at Saddle Ridge in the winter. Make a reservation to snowshoe the Agency House grounds by e-mailing and you will be fitted and on your way.

Sledding is popular at “The Gully,” outdoor ice-skating is enjoyed on Bridal Pond in Pauquette Park and snowmobiling trails are available around the county. But one has not really experienced winter in Portage until they have become familiar with the Scottish game of curling. Played on a level sheet of ice, the object is to “throw the stone” closest to the center of the “house target” on the opposite end of the rink. A broom is used to sweep the ice in order to lessen resistance on the ice so the stone travels farther.