Sunday, June 28, 2015

Old Settler's Trail, Wildcat Mountain State Park, WI

Since I had done the Hemlock Trail a few weeks ago, I was curious to go back to Wildcat Mountain State Park and try the longer trail called Old Settler's

The 2.5-mile loop trail is rugged and covers a 390-foot elevation difference. Once used by early settlers and later by area farmers, the Old Settlers Trail also winds through three separate pine plantations planted by Ontario students as far back as 1951. This loop trail can be reached from either the northern end of the upper picnic area or from the nature building. Alternatively, hikers can opt to walk only one segment of the Old Settler's Trail. Starting at the nature building, the trail can be taken on the accessible 0.4-mile (one-way) portion to the Taylor Hollow Overlook, Wildcat's best view of the Village of Ontario below.

This is a quote from Wildcat Mountains website describing the trail.
I will say this, the lookout doesn't really allow you to see Ontario.  Not unless you climb the barrier fence and walk out ~ which I didn't do.

I didn't visit the other scenic outlook as I was pressed for time and wanted to make the whole trail and be back home before the day's real heat kicked in.

I was surprised to find these little blue flowers that I'd like to call Bell Flowers. Well, technically I am not exactly sure of the name, but they are delicate blue flowers that tend to like more shaded areas.  I've seen them most near and around the northern side of the rock formations as the park.

I think I'd love this trail during early spring, late fall, and yes, in the winter.  The wonderful rock outcroppings would be easier to photograph.
In the spring I'd be able to languish in the Jack in the Pulpits, Blood Root, and other wild beauties.

Blood Root

I came across some bizarre things also, this neon yellow 'blob' growing on an old stump.  Now I don't think it was fungi, perhaps some sort of lichen?

The trail was narrow in places and wide in others.  If you do the whole trail you get quite a work out.  If you just go from the Nature Building and walk that .4 mile trail, it is wide and well traveled.

I prefer the less traveled parts of the trail.

There were spots that were just a footpath which I found very interesting.

And ... the rocks.  The formations of rocks are incredible and no matter how often I see them I am in awe.  I've lived in this area and after 20 years, still find the rocks something incredible.

My thoughts on this trail?  It is best to be in some sort of shape to do the whole trail.  It is a work out for the legs with the hills.  Since I am fairly new to checking out one trail against the other, I'd go with what the park website has to say.

I tried to do it as quickly as possible and I hiked hard and fast, more of a workout than a casual hike.

Bring water.  There are benches in more than one location if you wish to have a seat and enjoy the view.
Bring a snack.  It sometimes is pleasant to have to stop and have an apple or something.
Bring your trash out with you.

This trail can be done in all 4 seasons.  Part of it is a cross country ski trail.  I wonder if snow shoes are allowed. 

It is a unique trail and there is a lot to look at.  The trail is mostly shaded so it would be a nice way to spend some time out of the sun.

I can't wait to go back.