Hiking the Ice Age Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

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Rocks of Gibraltar - Ice Age Trail - Lodi Wisconsin
Rocks of Gibraltar - Ice Age Trail - Lodi Wisconsin
The Ice Age National Trail traverses approximately 1000 miles in Wisconsin. The overall trail is incomplete, with many miles of roadside walking between short segments of hiking trails. The Gibraltar Rock Segment is a 4.6 mile length stretching from the Merrimac ferry to the summit of Rocks of Gibraltar State Natural Area.

The length of this segment includes approximately one mile of roadside walking alongside the relative quiet Columbia County Road V. There is ample shoulder space on the road to make this portion of the walk comfortable for avid hikers.

Overall, the Gibraltar Segment is moderately strenuous, with 2 rated #5 mountaineering climbs. An out-and-back on this segment will take approximately 4 hours. The climbs included on this segment offer impressive panoramic views of the Baraboo Hills and Lake Wisconsin. There are 4 parking lots, so you can break this segment into shorter walks.



Rocks of Gibraltar Natural Area - West Point WI
Rocks of Gibraltar Natural Area - West Point WI


Spring is late this year. It first arrived in earnest on April 19th. It was one of those days where the temperature rose 30 degrees over the previous normal highs. And, so everyone rushed out of their homes - at last an end to cabin fever. Restaurants with outdoor seating were packed, and shorts and sandal clad pale zombies swarmed the parks.

I chose to set out early on the Ice Age Trail. It was still brisk in the morning. I was in search of a trail with some elevation and a moderate length. I found it nearby to my home in Waunakee at the Gibraltar Rock segment that passes from the Merrimac ferry to the Rocks of Gibraltar Natural Area.



View of Colsac III from Ice Age Trail
View of Colsac III from Ice Age Trail
Despite the still bare trees, the views on this day were well received. Perhaps because of the bare trees the vistas were more impressive. I came back in the evening to do the portion of trail at Rocks of Gibraltar. And I was treated to an amazing sunset, and an aerial show of hunting vultures.

As I approached the first bare rock precipice, I was surprised as a giant bird of prey swooped from below the cliff - its wingspan nearly brushing my face. I got my first real view of the enormous size of these birds. They silently hovered and swooped alongside the cliffs.

Eagles at Gibraltar Rock - Lodi
Vultures at Gibraltar Rock - Lodi

The Rocks of Gibraltar is a flat topped butte and the highest point in Columbia County. In the distance you can observe the Colsac III ferrying tourists back and forth on Lake Wisconsin. It is a marvelous spot, but seems to be a bit of a local secret. On a picture perfect day like this one it was mostly populated with young local teens sunbathing on the rocks.

Perhaps, my experience at the Rocks of Gibraltar overshadowed my morning hike from the Ferry to Slack Hill Road. But that first portion of the trail was the better hiking. The climbs were invigorating and there was a range of terrain, forest, and prairie. The Gibraltar Rock segment is a well maintained portion of The Ice Age National Trail - and it is a testament to the hard work of the volunteer crew and mobile skills unit that takes care of it.



Ice Age Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Lodi WI
Ice Age Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Lodi WI
O TO lie in long grasses!
O to dream of the plain!
Where the west wind sings as it passes
A weird and unceasing refrain;
Where the rank grass wallows and tosses,
And the plains’ ring dazzles the eye;
Where hardly a silver cloud bosses
The flashing steel arch of the sky.


To watch the gay gulls as they flutter
Like snowflakes and fall down the sky,
To swoop in the deeps of the hollows,
Where the crow’s-foot tosses awry,
And gnats in the lee of the thickets
Are swirling like waltzers in glee
To the harsh, shrill creak of the crickets,
And the song of the lark and the bee.

O far-off plains of my west land!
O lands of winds and the free,
Swift deer—my mist-clad plain!
From my bed in the heart of the forest,
From the clasp and the girdle of pain
Your light through my darkness passes;
To your meadows in dreaming I fly
To plunge in the deeps of your grasses,
To bask in the light of your sky!

In The Grasses - Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) - West Salem WI




Overview: Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Gibraltar Segment


COUNTY: Columbia
COMMUNITIES: Merrimac, West Point, Lodi

TOTAL MILES: 4.6
DIFFICULTY: Moderate

NEXT IAT SEGMENT WEST BOUND:2 miles on roads to Merrimac Segment
NEXT IAT SEGMENT EAST BOUND: 2.2 miles on roads to  Grovers-Pertzborn Segment

POINTS OF INTEREST: Lake Wisconsin, Merrimac Ferry, Disperse Camp Site, Rocks of Gibraltar Natural Area

CAMPING: Disperse Camping Area




Directions and Trail Map





Address for your GPS: Nearest address (use coordinates instead): W12037 Wisconsin 113 Lodi WI 53555
 | coordinates: N43.365512,W089.619063 |

From Milwaukee2 Hours
From Madison35 Minutes
From Green Bay2.5 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago3 Hours



Photos


Rocks of Gibraltar - Ice Age Trail - Lodi Wisconsin
Rocks of Gibraltar - Ice Age Trail - Lodi Wisconsin

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Disperse Campsite
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Disperse Campsite

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Disperse Campsite
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment - Disperse Campsite

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment

Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment
Ice Age National Trail - Gibraltar Rock Segment