Late July I visited Wildcat Mountain State Park for a hiking and camping trip. While the hiking was gorgeous, it was made more challenging by the hot and humid conditions of the day. Those conditions continued on into the night, making sleep a challenge as well. It’s hard to believe now, looking outside to a 21 degree morning covered in frost, that it was only a few months ago I slept on top of my sleeping bag inside a tent and still felt uncomfortable from the heat.
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The park offered really nice views of the surrounding countryside. It was easy to see why it’s such a popular place to camp.
Driving up to the park office to check in for the night, I noticed a sign telling us that all the campsites had been booked for the night. (We had a reservation.) It turned out we had stumbled upon an extra busy night at the park. That night was one the peak viewing nights for the Perseid meteor shower, and the park was hosting a few free events to help guests enjoy it. How cool is that?
Like many of the campsites at the park, we reserved a cart-in campsite. This might be self explanatory, but this means to access these sites campers must use a cart to bring supplies from their car to their campsite. Our campsite, site #108, was located straight down the path that led from that parking lot.
Upon checking in, we were given a code to unlock our cart. Each campsite has it’s own cart, stored securely at the parking area. We parked, located our cart, unlocked it, and loaded it up for the first trip.
I admit, I was skeptical of what the cart would look like. I pictured the rusty old wheelbarrow that lived outside in my parent’s backyard while I was growing up, complete with faded, chipped lead paint. I’m pretty sure that wheelbarrow is still back there, braving the Wisconsin elements, day after day. Anyway, this wasn’t my parent’s wheelbarrow. This thing was large, sturdy, and surprisingly smooth and easy to pull. Minimalist campers could have moved their supplies in one trip. We took two.
Our campsite was located close to, but at a safe distance away from the vault toilets. It was also situated right next to a water fountain which provided surprisingly good tasting water. Another, nicer bathroom is located next to the parking lot. From our site, it was a lot further than the vault toilet, but it had flush toilets and showers.
The photo below was taken from the end of the entrance to our site. You can see the bathroom and another campsite up the hill behind it. Despite being able to see other campsites from the trail, noise was never a problem.
The campsite was spacious, flat, and very well maintained. The area doesn’t have dense trees so shade was limited when we first arrived. As the sun lowered, it became much more pleasant.
The entire park and the surrounding area is drastically hilly, with sharp changes in elevation. You can see on the map that out campsite (marked in pink) is immediately next to one of these hills.
The land behind our tent, on the the other side of the tall grass, fell sharply.
The dense summer foliage and the hazy heat rising from the valley below makes it hard to see clearly, but it you look through the plants, you can just make out the ground below.
Camping at Wildcat Mountain State Park was a pleasant experience. Between the natural beauty of the location and the unique cart-in access to the campsites, this is a park I would return to again for hiking and camping alike. With the nearby river providing more activities than just hiking, it would be easy to spend a long weekend at the park without ever getting bored.