Wisconsin’s Rib Mountain State Park — Midwest Mountain Hiking and an Old Quarry

Back in June we had an entire weeklong hiking, camping, and relaxing trip planned in the UP of Michigan to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. It was going to be great, time spent in both the Pictured Rocks and in Munising, complete with a boutique hotel. (Roam Inn, you look amazing and I can’t wait to visit you soon!) Well, then COVID happened and plans changed. Instead of that trip, we planned a COVID friendly trip to a cabin in central Wisconsin. First stop on that trip was hiking at Rib Mountain State Park.

If you’ve even driven through Wausau then you’ve seen Rib Mountain. You can’t miss it. Right off the main highway is a 1,923 foot hill (a mountain by Wisconsin standards.) It has a state park on one side and Granite Peak Ski Area on the other. While there is no camping at the park, there is a lot of hiking to be done.

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Wisconsin’s Council Grounds State Park — A River Park with a Dam, Merrill, WI

Now on to another Wisconsin State Park. Half an hour north of Wausau is Council Grounds State Park. The park is just outside the town of Merrill, (like literally right outside the town,) so if you forget something that you need to buy, don’t fret. (When we visited firewood wasn’t being sold inside the park. We went back into town for wood and coffee.) At 509 acres, this park isn’t huge but still seems to be very popular with water sport enthusiasts. With a boat landing, accessible fishing pier, beach area, and a canoe/kayak portage, there’s something for everyone who loves water recreating.

We planned to camp and hike at the park. This trip was in mid-July as part II of a two-part birthday celebration. Is there anyway better to turn 31 than camping with friends?

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Donald County Park, Dane County, Madison, Wisconsin, A Short Hike to a Big Rock in the State Capital Area

Now let’s take a short break from the Wisconsin state park system. I spend so much time driving to parks all over the state that sometimes I forget there are great options for hiking right in my backyard. One of these options is a park located 19 miles out side of Madison and managed by Dane County, Donald County Park.

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Wisconsin’s Governor Dodge State Park — A Waterfall, A Canyon, and Farming History

I love when parks surprise me. Let me rephrase, I love when parks surprise me in a positive way. I don’t love being surprised by an army of mosquitoes, finding the trail underwater 2 miles in, or finding your campsite has no shade on a 90 degree day. I do, however, love when you start a trail with only a vague knowledge of what’s to come and find so much more than you expected.

I had this experience at a park I’ve been going to for years, Governor Dodge State Park. Living in Madison, this park is an easy drive for a day-trip. Although I’ve been to the park numerous times I somehow never explored the area around one of the park’s main attractions, Stephens Falls. I’ve been to the falls but it was always full of multiple groups of people. Maybe that’s why I ignored all the trails around it. I tend to avoid crowds, especially in natural areas when I’m trying to get away from people. Boy, was I missing out.

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Wisconsin’s High Cliff State Park — Hiking the Niagara Escarpment with views of Lake Winnebago

Imagine this. It’s a Tuesday night in summer. You’re thinking about the upcoming weekend and how you would love to get out and hike. You decide to start planning your weekend trip. What makes you decide which park you want to visit? What features of the park do you hope to hike in, up, or around? In my experience, those features are often water, hills, and history.

If you’re lucky, the park you select might have all three. High Cliff State Park happens to be one of those parks.

Last summer we took a trip to hike and camp at the park. Located on the northern shore of Wisconsin’s largest lake, Lake Winnebago, the park is a short 20 minute drive from Appleton. This makes it a popular destination in the summer for locals and non-locals alike. During the trip we had the chance to both hike and camp at the park.

The park is named for the high limestone cliffs created by the Niagara Escarpment. I’ve written about other parks dominated by this landscaping feature in my Peninsula State Park and Ledges County Park posts. The entire escarpment runs for 650 miles through Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. The feature begins (or ends) in Wisconsin’s Waukesha County. It then travels northeast through Lake Michigan and Lake Huron before turning southeast. It eventually becomes the most famous feature of the escarpment and one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls. In all, Wisconsin has 230 miles of the escarpment. With the dramatic cliffs and scenic views it’s no wonder that a variety of parks line the escarpment. High Cliff State Park is one of those.

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Wisconsin Dells, Chapel Gorge Trail and Rocky Arbor State Park, fall throwback

It’s the hottest week of 2020 so far. As I write this, it’s a muggy 89 degrees outside. Let’s cool off with a look back to a fall hike in October 2019.

Every year a group of friends rents a cabin and gathers for a weekend of games, laughter, and togetherness. It’s a wonderful tradition that continues to grow and take on little traditions of it’s own. One that I fully support is the annual hike. Anyone in the group interested in incorporating a little movement into their weekend of board games, over indulgence, and lazing around is welcome to participate in the short, local hike.

This past year featured two locations around the Wisconsin Dells area, the Chapel Gorge hike and a hike at Rocky Arbor State Park. Let’s start with Chapel Gorge.

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