Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hemlock Trail, Wildcat Mountain State Park

Wildcat Mountain State Park on Highway 33 just outside of Ontario, Wisconsin is fairly well known for its horse trails and horse camp.

I've ridden there for many years, but just started to explore my hiking opportunities recently.

I thought I'd do the Hemlock Trail which according to some reviews can be very difficult for some.
Let me start by staying the trail is tough and if you are thinking you will find a nice flat easy trail, think again.

I went with my grand daughter.  We stayed to the left of the trail split and I think we probably did the trail backwards.
I'm glad we did.

We found some unique plant life.  Blood Root leaves dotted the hillside, along with Jack in the Pulpit and Ginger.  To the casual person who doesn't know their woodland plant life, this would have just been "greenery" and they would have walked right by it on the trail.

Mark my words, I'll be back to photograph the Trillium, the Skunk Cabbage and other spring wonders that seemed to be all over under the forest canopy.

In the upper part of the woods near the top to Mt. Pusgah we found Broomrape. Also known as Cancer Root, proper scientific name: Conopholis americana.

These little oddities are not easy to spot unless you have an eye for looking for odd patterns on the forest floor.

Finally we reached to top of the 'mountain' and spent quite a bit of time cooling off in the nice cool breeze and enjoying the overlook view.

And of course a 'self portrait' with a camera on the tripod and a timer.

Then we headed down the other side of the mountain.
The trail ran alongside and above the Kickapoo River and we watched canoeists and folks in rented kayaks paddling the Kickapoo.

I told my grand daughter that we ought to Canoe the Kickapoo some time.

I loved these side of the mountain as much as the other side but for different reasons.

The bluffs seen from above were impressive.

As well as some of the native ground coverings.

We found Partridge Berries in abundance.

And we found a little time to ham it up for the camera.  Ariel's mom had told her to stay safe near the bluffs above the river.

On our way down from the bluffs I found some Chicken of the Woods.  I happen to love this fungi with its brilliant colors.

I was actually quite sad to come to the end of the trail loop.

Things about this trail.
It is steep, but you can stop as often as you like.
If it has rained some of the trail will be very tricky, just use caution and don't rush.

If you know anything about woodland plants this is a great place.
No pets are allowed on this trail.
Elevation change is 396 feet, so be prepared for a workout.
The trail is 1.3 miles long.

However, since we stopped and observed birds, plants, fungi, and rock formations and took many photographs...
the hike took us much longer.

We even watched the canoes below us.
We'd recently had a lot of rain so the trails in places where a bit slick and where the forest vegetation was very thick we did encounter bugs.  Not enough though that is would keep me from going back..
The trail is shaded for the most part by the large beautiful canopy of the forest.

It is said that the Old Settler's trail is rugged.
I say, well, let me try it! That is my next goal.


  1. I'd love to check this place out sometime. Looks cool! I love hemlock and am thinking about incorporating it into my front yard, as most of it is shaded anyway.

  2. It would be a good trail to hike, it is about 30 minutes from my place. I think you could spend a lot of time looking around. I'll be checking out another trail I hope this week.