Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kid-friendly trails explore Interstate S.P.

Dalles of the St. Croix at Wisconsin Interstate State Park.
The heart of Wisconsin Interstate State Park’s can be explored on day hikes through a series of connecting trails.

Take the park entrance road to the parking lot to the Lake O’ the Dalles beach parking lot. From there, you have the choice of two trails.

Summit Rock Trail heads to the bluff’s highest point and is a dirt surface, so expect an uneven and steep walk at times. Small sections of the 0.5-mile trail (one way) consist of stone and wooden steps through the forested area. The highlight of the hike without question is the incredible view of the riverway from the summit. Looking north, the Old Man of the Dalles rock formation is visible just beyond glacial potholes.

Taken clockwise, the Eagle Canyon Trail links the Summit Rock and the Lake O’ the Dalles trails in a 0.7-mile loop. The trail crosses an ancient riverbed that glacial meltwaters carved out of the landscape at the end of the last ice age. If the day is hot, you’ll instantly feel cool down on the Eagle Canyon Trail as the nearly sheer, talus canyon walls moderate the temperature. There are some stone stairs, and the trail can be steep at spots.

The route briefly shares a segment of the Lake O’ the Dalles Trail, a one-mile loop circling the 23-acre Lake O’ the Dalles. The trail offers exceptional opportunities to view wildlife.

The Lake O’Dalles Trail can be extended by taking two connecting paths:
River Bluff Trail – This 0.7-mile trail in takes hikers between the St. Croix River gorge and the Lake of the Dalles. The rocks and sparse vegetation gives it a Rocky Mountain feel.
Camp Interstate Shelter connector – The short path heads southeast to a reservable shelter and a picnic area.

Read more about day hiking the scenic riverway in my guidebook Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.