Posted by: Step Outside | February 7, 2008

Bald Bluff / Kettle Moraine State Forest – Palmyra, WI

Bald Bluff /Kettle Moraine State Forest – Palmyra, WI

N 42°50.746′  W088°36.575′


In search of a new hiking destination along the Ice Age Trial, Steve and I headed southwest from Waukesha on highway 59.  We passed the Southern Kettle Moraine Ranger Station and continued through the small town of Palmyra where we picked up county road H.  Twenty-seven miles from home and just outside of Palmyra is the Bald Bluff Scenic Overlook trailhead.

Bald Bluff has an interesting history during the Black Hawk War, which was the last major Indian war in Wisconsin.  General Henry Atkinson and 3,500 soldiers camped on the prairie northwest of Bald Bluff on July 7th, 1832.  Members of this encampment were two future US Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor.

From the trailhead on county road H, Steve and I followed the ½ mile trail that climbed quickly to 1,050 ft.  Temperatures have fluctuated from 47 to -9 melting the snow and causing another deep freeze.  Fresh snow covered the ice on the single-track path.  The slick trail forced me to carefully place each footstep.  It was definitely a mistake not to use the snowshoes and trekking poles.  We continued north through the snow and cold another mile and a half, turning around just before the trail to the Stone Elephant.  Some say this erratic (a large rock left from a glacier) has a resemblance to a large elephant.  Seeing the Stone Elephant is a reason to re-visit this trail in the spring.

We made it back to the trailhead and I poured a bowl of water for Steve, leaving a couple swigs for myself.  A truck with four guys pulled in to the trailhead parking lot and began to unload backpacks and sleds with gear attached.  A brave foursome, these guys were winter camping along the Ice Age Trail.  They planned to hike, each pulling a sled with gear, north along the same ice and snow covered trial Steve and I traveled.  Their schedule included a 2-mile hike on Saturday to the first campsite, another mile and a half on Sunday to the second campsite, and then back on Monday.  One of the group members begged to borrow Steve for warmth.  I told them a little booze should keep them warm enough.

I drive past this Ice Age trailhead and many others each week during the summer en route to the mountain bike trails at the John Muir trailhead in the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest.  As I develop this blog I hope to get to all trailheads along the Ice Age Trail in the southern section and then move to the northern section.  Click here for more information about the Ice Age Trail, which runs approximately 1100 miles from northern to southern Wisconsin.             



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