Hiking the Niagara Escarpment at Ledge Park, Dodge County, Wisconsin

Back in the day, I used to drive 74 miles a day for work. That feels like a lifetime ago, but I guess it was only late July when I made the trip for the last time.

Anyway, working 37 miles north of home, I tried to get to know the area a little bit. In addition to learning about a few yummy restaurants and unique shops, I also learned about some scenic local parks. One of those parks was a favorite of a now former co-worker.

Ledge County Park, of Dodge County, Wisconsin, is just outside the city of Horicon. The park’s landscape is dominated by drastic cliffs and rocky slides. This is thanks to the Niagara Escarpment that passes through the area. This escarpment, which you might have guessed, is the same one that contains the cliff over which the Niagara River falls and becomes, well, Niagara Falls. This part of the escarpment is an itty-bitty baby cliff in comparison, but it’s neat to think how something so awe inspiring, dripping in raw and untamed power could be linked to this park in the middle of Wisconsin.

Check out the park links to follow along:
Park Website
Park Map


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To the trail!

We started the hike at the Cave Trail parking lot. While this lot was named on the map, none of the trails were actually named. This always makes it tricky to talk about them and describe where we went.

The park has two parts, an upper section and a lower section, divided by the ledge for which the park is named. We began at the upper section, worked our way down the ledge, before eventually coming back up.

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The trail is a series of rock steps and dirt/rock trail as it makes its way along the ledge.

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This was a challenging day for photos in the forest. On a gorgeous, sunny July afternoon the trees did little to block the sun from coming through the leaves.

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Hey little toad!
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Last summer was a terrible year for mosquitos. Well, a terrible year for humans because of the mosquito population. I suppose it was actually a great year in the eyes of the little buggers.

Anyway, on this particular day we forgot our bug spray like a bunch of noobs. Being eaten alive by the flying pests, we ran into the sunlight once we reached the bottom section of the park to find some relief.

Emerging from the trail to the road, we passed by the “contemplation tree.” I could not find any history of explanation behind the tree online. Here you can sit and contemplate…things.

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It is quite a large tree and one that’s difficult to take a picture of with the sun behind it.

While contemplating at the tree, we noticed a small pond on the map a little further up the road. Enjoying the break from the mosquitoes in the sunshine and the chance to regenerate our blood, we decided to check it out.

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The algae. Remember it was a hot summer.
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While the pond wasn’t much to look at, upon closer inspection we realized it was FULL OF FROGS!!

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Frogs frogs frogs
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Even more frogs

Feeling inspired by the frogs, we decided to climb back up the ledge and head towards the scenic lookout.

I’m still not 100% sure this was actually an intended trail or just a path for water to travel down the hill during a rainstorm.

The trail doesn’t look like much from here, but about half way up it became pretty steep. Walking up a steep trail on loose rocks is challenging. I almost toppled backwards down the hill a few times and was almost taken out by my hiking partner in front of me doing the same.

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A look down the hill we just climbed. Again, this doesn’t look like much but this was way harder than it should have been thanks to the loose rocks.

We made it to the top and could look down and laugh.

At the top, we traveled along the ledge to the lookout area. The trail on top was flat and pleasant.

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Looking from the ledge down to the lower section of the park.
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We made it to the lookout! From here we could see for miles across the Dodge County countryside below.

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After enjoying the lookout, we began the trip back to the car. We decided to walk away from the ledge for this section. After getting lost and wandering around in the campground for a few minutes, we found the road and eventually the car.

Overall this was a nice park! A great location for an afternoon hike, a picnic, or even an overnight camping trip.

2 Comments on “Hiking the Niagara Escarpment at Ledge Park, Dodge County, Wisconsin

  1. Liza, I love the photos and commentary on this park. Thanks for the journey! Looking forward to many more.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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