Friday, August 16, 2013

Family-friendly day hiking trails explore remote section of Wisconsin Interstate Park

You can explore Wisconsin Interstate State Park’s southern section via three day hiking trails. After entering Interstate via Park Road, follow it to the Pines Group Camp parking lots. The trailheads are at the road’s end and the southernmost of the two parking lots.

Eagle Peak Trail takes you to the park’s highest point, Eagle Peak. Though short at 0.8 miles, it climbs 120 feet in elevation, including up stone stairs. The trailhead begins at the Pines Group Camp. A short side trail passes a traprock quarry built by the CCC during the 1930s on its way to South Campground.

To get away from the park crowds, hike the 1.2-mile trail (2.4 miles round trip) Silverbook Trail. It runs to the park’s remote, forested southern end. The trail in part follows the original road that connected the village of Osceola to the south with St. Croix Falls to the north. It passes an abandoned copper mine, the Silverbrook Mansion grounds, then reaches the trail’s highlight: 18-foot Silverbrook Falls. There’s an observation point and bench at the falls.

The Skyline Trail runs for 1.6 miles (3.2 miles round trip) northeast to the Ice Age Visitor Center. From the valley’s forested rim, the trail descends through rock-covered ravines. It first passes the Ravine Trail and then the Skyline Nature Trail junctions. Wooden benches are along the way.

The Skyline Trail can be extended by taking a couple of spur trails:
Skyline Nature Trail –The 0.75-mile trail loops though several plant communities. Interpretive signs describe how the plant communities differ as the landscape changes. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs east from the loop behind the visitor center toward the park entrance.
Ravine Trail – The extremely short trail runs to a shelter, the amphitheater, and a picnic area at the beach parking lot.

Read more about day hiking Interstate State Park in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking Wisconsin and Minnesota Interstate State Parks guidebook.