Twenty Five and Three Parks

Yesterday was my birthday. 

It was probably the best birthday I’ve had in a while. Why? It was the first birthday in years that I’ve actually been able to spend how I want and not have to worry about homework, studying for an exam or worry about anything for that matter. 

So, my friend Maggie and I headed west and checked out two state natural areas and a new (to us) state park. Needless to say it was a great way to spend our day. 

We left the north Milwaukee suburbs around 6:30 am (was supposed to be 6, but I didn’t leave Sheboygan till 5:50 am ’cause I was lazy as hell) and got to the Merrimack Ferry around 9 am. 

Maggie was excited that the ferry was open

Our first stop was a little SNA (state natural area) just northwest of Devil’s Lake. When we pulled into the lot you could easily tell that it gets a little busy during the weekends. How? Well, they had to build another parking area… That’s a sure fire way to know it gets chaotic on the weekends. 

Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area

Pewits Nest is a neat little gem of high cliffs and a small river running through it. The sandstone cliffs definitely add character to the area and the gorge is a result of the last ice age. Interesting eh? 

Unfortunately though with all the new attention that Pewit’s Nest is getting, trash is evident throughout this small gem. Along with that, there is ongoing construction nearby (they’re making highway 12 a four lane highway) which may cause future problems for Skillet Creek which runs right through the heart of this lovely place. 

After spending an hour here we took off to our next location. 

natural bridge and rockshelter state park

So… This place was neat. This is the oldest natural bridge in southern Wisconsin. And that little shadow area at the bottom right of the photo, that’s a natural rock shelter that paleo-Indians used as a shelter.

This photo was taken from the top of an adjacent sandstone outcropping because from the ground, there was just no way to properly show the bridge. This was a quick and easy hike, but on our way up to the bridge we heard cracking, unaware and unsure, we stopped on the trail as soon as we hit a clearing only to watch a tree come crashing down. It looked perfectly healthy, but yesterday was pretty windy in the driftless region of Wisconsin. Regardless, this was a neat place and Maggie and I both decided we would want to check it out in summer. 

Onto our final stop we went… But not before something sidetracked me. 

Chevy Corvair

Typical me, getting sidetracked by old cars.

Anyways, onto our last spot which I was most excited about all day…. Want to know why?

looking to the northeast from the top of Cactus Bluff

You can’t complain with this view. This was from the top of Cactus Bluff at Ferry Bluff SNA. This is a bald eagle sanctuary… So naturally Maggie and I were hoping to see some eaglets. But unfortunately due to the wind, nothing was really flying except sand into our eyes. 

terraced steps heading up Cactus Bluff

There was a sign warning of how tough the hike was. Going up the side of this bluff ended up being at a 20% grade sometimes. I think that’s almost tougher than going up the East Bluff at Devil’s Lake. But the view was totally worth the short lived pain (kidding, my knees still ache a little today).

overlooking the Wisconsin River

It was definitely worth the hike up. Completely. Maggie and I both agreed that the view from Cactus bluff is better than that at Devil’s Lake. On a clear day you can see the Blue Mounds off in the distance, which happens to be the tallest point in southern Wisconsin. 

It was so windy, but so lovely. 

me taking in the scenery

There are many more photos I could share of this place, but this is enough. 

We’re hoping to get back here again shortly in hopes of seeing some eagles soaring high. You can’t really blame us, can you? 
What or where are some of your favorite areas to hike? 

3 thoughts on “Twenty Five and Three Parks

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