Green Circle Trailhead Project

Join us in creating a hub for outdoor recreation enthusiasts in Stevens Point! The Green Circle Trailhead project will include an open-air shelter, an all-season restroom, and an overflow parking lot in Schmeeckle Reserve near the visitor center. It will serve as a starting point for visitors to explore the trails and habitats of Schmeeckle and the Green Circle. The trailhead is being funded through a Wisconsin DNR Stewardship Grant and generous donations. No state university dollars are being used for the project.

Green Circle Trailhead site plan

Click to view larger rendering

The Rettler Corporation in Stevens Point donated time to develop the overall site plan for the trailhead (above). They have been hired by Portage County to develop the construction and bid documents, along with overseeing project construction.

Why a Trailhead?

The 27-mile Green Circle Trail is heavily used by residents and out-of-town visitors. Based on studies conducted by Schmeeckle interns, an estimated 125,000 people use the trail annually. In 2015, about 70% of trail users surveyed were from the local area (within 15 minutes), 22% were from elsewhere in Wisconsin, and 7% were from out-of-state. Despite all the use, the Green Circle does not have a designated trailhead or starting point, which can be confusing, especially for out-of-town visitors. Since Schmeeckle Reserve has a visitor center and free parking, many trail users already start their adventures here. However, when the visitor center is closed, there are few amenities available.

An official trailhead provides a comfortable starting point for people to explore the Green Circle and Schmeeckle Reserve. The trailhead will consist of four enhancements:

Menzel Pavilion rendering
Click to view building rendering and floorplan

1. Menzel Pavilion (first phase)

A beautiful, open-air shelter will be built across the trail from the Pankowski Friends Amphitheater, surrounded by prairie. The shelter will feature seating for about 50 people, with a towering double-sided stone fireplace. A patio on one side of the fireplace provides an outdoor gathering area adjacent to the shelter. Stone columns will hold up a cedar roof with a unique open feel. The structure will be an ideal protected place for picnics, classes, programs, and celebrations.

The John Noel family donated a large portion of the funding to build the shelter. Per the Noel family's request, the shelter will be named the Menzel Pavilion after Roy and Margaret Menzel. Roy was one of the founders of the Green Circle Trail, and both he and Margaret were well-known civic leaders in the Stevens Point community for decades.

Paul Anderson, with Alliiance architects in Minneapolis, developed the design for the shelter and amphitheater stage, using many of the same elements in both designs.

Trailhead Restroom Building rendering
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2. Restroom Building (first phase)

A new restroom building constructed near the existing parking lot will provide access to toilet facilities, even when the visitor center is closed. The building will be insulated and heated to be open all seasons. Two lockable all-gender rooms will be convenient for trail users, while providing flexibility for larger programs and events. The design of the building will incorporate elements from the amphitheater and shelter. A standalone drinking fountain will make it easy for trail users to fill their water bottles.

3. Overflow Parking Lot (first phase)

With a capacity of 47 cars, the existing Schmeeckle Visitor Center parking lot fills during nice summer days and when there are special programs and events. It is anticipated that the amphitheater and shelter will lead to greater use of the area, requiring additional parking. An overflow parking lot for 60 cars, built to the east of the existing lot, will help relieve this issue. The lot has been designed to minimize impact on the natural landscape. A one-way loop reduces the lot's footprint. It will be surfaced with gravel to allow water to filter down into the ground. A retention pond in the middle of the loop, planted with native wetland vegetation, will catch excessive runoff. Existing trees and shrubs will be protected where possible to provide screening and shade.

Entry Plaza rendering
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4. Entry Plaza and Kiosk (second phase)

A circular entry plaza, located adjacent to the main parking lot, will serve as a gathering area and focal point for visitors. The plaza will be made out of decorative concrete. An interpretive kiosk, constructed in the style of the shelter building, will provide information about Schmeeckle and the Green Circle Trail for planning adventures. Shaded sandstone seats around the edges will be ideal places to rest. A bicycle repair station will be available for last-minute fixes and tweaks.




The Green Circle Trailhead project is a unique partnership among several agencies and organizations. In 2016, the Green Circle board was approached by a private donor who was interested in funding a shelter for the trail. This idea was built into a larger project to create an official trailhead for the Green Circle. The Schmeeckle Reserve director, in conjunction with the Green Circle board and Portage County Parks director, wrote a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant to fund half of the project cost. Portage County submitted the application in April 2017. The grant was awarded in May 2018.

Portage County will serve as fiscal agent for the grant and coordinate the bidding and construction process. Portage County and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents signed a Construction and Land Use Agreement, allowing the county to build on university property. After construction, the county will own and insure the buildings for 25 years (per the grant requirements). Portage County signed a Maintenance Agreement with UW-Stevens Point that states the university will cover all maintenance and utilities during those 25 years. After the 25-year period, the county will donate the buildings to the Board of Regents.

The Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve and the Green Circle Trail board contributed substantial funding toward the first phase of the project, and they will continue to develop the site as part of the second phase.

Estimated Timeline

  • June-December 2019: Fundraising continues for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of project
  • January 2020: Bid documents sent out for Phase 1 of project; general contractor hired
  • May-September 2020: Construction of Phase 1 of project
  • May-July 2021: Construction of Phase 2 of project (pending funding)

Donors and Support

The first phase of the project (shelter, restrooms, parking lot) will cost about $890,000 to complete. A portion of this amount ($370,401) is being supported by a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant through the Wisconsin DNR. Additional funding and support is being provided by the following generous donors:





The second phase of the project (entry plaza, interpretive kiosk, stone seating, native landscaping, parking lot lighting, bridge) will cost about $200,000.

Fundraising is currently underway. Your generous gift will help us complete this amazing community asset! Donations can be made through the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. Gifts of any size are welcome and will be acknowledged on this website. Donors who contribute $1,000 or more will also have their names inscribed on a stone plaque installed near the shelter. At the $10,000 level and above, donors can choose an image or logo next to their name.

Donor Levels

  • Donors: $1-$999 (recognized on website)
  • Supporters: $1,000-$9,999 (name on stone plaque)
  • Sponsors: $10,000-$19,999 (name and image/logo on plaque)
  • Partners: $20,000-$49,999 (name and image/logo on plaque)
  • Patrons: $50,000-$99,999 (name and image/logo on plaque)
  • Founders: $100,000 and above (name and image/logo on plaque)

Click here to go to the Friends donation page. Be sure to specify "Green Circle Trailhead" for the Gift Designation.