Terrell's Island Trail

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Terrell's Island Trail is a trail that extends itself out into Lake Butte Des Morts. The 3.71-mile long trail extends out on the break wall. Approximately 2 miles of the trail is isolated on the lake. The trail takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes to walk, however, it is open to mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. It is also common to see people boat out to the trail to watch the pelicans. The Lake Butte Des Morts Conservation Club is currently working on improving other areas to allow for more trails and restoring the wetlands. The Club hopes to create a long path that extends out on the wetlands into the break wall enclosure which currently is only viewable from a boat.


In the 1800s the land of Terrell's Island was originally owned by John Terrell. Over the many years, the property was purchased and sold between many different owners. In 1968, the land was purchased by Harry Molinski. Soon after that, the Wisconsin DNR began plans to clean up the water in the areas of Terrell's Island. For help, the DNR recruited the assistance of the Butte Des Morts conservation club. In 1998, the Butte Des Morts conservation club gathered enough money, through donations and grants, in order to purchase 1183 acres of the wetlands. This land was then turned into the Terrell's Island Public Trust. The first part of the break walls in which the trail resides upon was first put in place in the 50s and 60s. While the name may suggest otherwise, Terrell's Island is actually a peninsula. This is due to the dredging which was done to protect the area from high water damage. [1] [2]

Hiking/Walking the Trail

Walking the trail takes about one hour and 15 minutes. The trail is 3.7-miles long with the portion isolated on the lake being about two miles long. The trail is family friendly meaning that the trail is not very difficult and allows anything from walking/hiking to mountain biking and kayaking/canoeing. The trail surface is primarily made up from small gravel and is mostly flat. The Terrell's Island Trail is a great place to spend a nice and sunny day. With a majority of the trail being isolated on Lake Butte Des Morts, it makes for an experience unlike any other. The trail is an excellent way to view the wildlife of the Lake Butte Des Morts area in a natural setting. [3]


Terrell's Island offers a home for many different species of animal, all which can be witnessed in their natural habitats while walking on the trail. While many animals of all sorts such as deer, mink, river otter, turtles, and foxes are common occurrences, the area is really an excellent place to view a diverse collection of migrating or nesting waterfowl. Pelicans have been thriving in the area ever since the break wall was established. The rocks and vegetation create many nesting locations for the pelicans which have caused a large number to congregate there. The Island is also home to thousands of Double-Crested Cormorants. While these birds are wonderful, they are not originally intended to breed in the area, therefore, efforts have been made to make the island less desirable to pelicans and more desirable to nesting waterfowl. Nesting Egrets and Herons can be seen during the summer months. The Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and the Great Blue Heron are all common nesters in the area. [4]


  1. Leah. "Terrell's Island Trail." NEW Hikes. November 19, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://newhikes.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/terrells-island-trail/.
  2. Videotrends. "Terrell's Island." YouTube. September 15, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7cF7cTndkI.
  3. "Top 5 Oshkosh Trails To Enjoy This Summer." Visit Oshkosh. October 11, 2017. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://visitoshkosh.com/top-5-oshkosh-trails-enjoy-summer.
  4. "Terrell's Island." Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. Accessed May 10, 2018. http://www.heritageparkway.org/trails-directory/terrell-island/.

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