Driftless for a Day - Hiking Wyalusing State Park

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View of the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers at Wyalusing State Park
View of the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers at Wyalusing State Park


Wyalusing is among the most impressive state parks in the Wisconsin Park system. Where the waters of the Wisconsin River meet with The Mississippi, this incredible property packs in all that outdoor lovers seek.

Set on a perch 600 feet above the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi there are stunning views from almost anywhere within the park. There are also campsites placed directly at the bluffs' edge, American Indian mounds from two mound building eras, a cave with a passage to a hidden chamber, a large overhang cave, boat launches, and miles of challenging hiking trails.

I chose to hike the Sentinel Ridge trail from the boat launch up to Treasure Cave. A more ambitious hiker could have continued and made a loop trail of about a dozen miles, but I chose to do it as a 6 mile out-n-back.






Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing Park
Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing Park


This is exactly the kind of trail I seek out. I found what I was looking for - and on a perfect day for hiking to boot. The length of the Sentinel Ridge trail is a level 4 rated climb extending 2.54 miles from 701ft to 1129ft. Thankfully there is a concession stand at the end of it.

Views along the way will encourage you up the climb. At the first flat you are greeted with a procession of conical indigenous mounds. People have been celebrating this outstanding location for at least 12000 years.

You'll descend a bit following the mounds and picnic area and then climb again to the best views of The Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. Veering off to the left is a trail which is sometimes closed due to falling rocks. It follows along a ledge and terminates at Treasure Cave.

Treasure Cave - Wyalusing Park
Treasure Cave - Wyalusing Park
A steep staircase leads to the cave. Inside, you can army crawl about 20 yards through a narrow passage to a wider chamber. Yes, indeed, this would be a superb place to protect a treasure ... if it were not such a hot tourist destination. Following the cave is another steep wood staircase that leads to a stone staircase and passes through a natural stone archway. From the arch it is a short walk to two overlooks and the concessions stand.

This trail might be too difficult and precarious for small children. But, do not deprive them of the cave. You can park at the main lot by the concession stand and walk down to the cave - and handrails are provided to keep you and your family from plunging off the 600ft bluffs. 



Overview: Sentinel Ridge Trail


COUNTIES:Grant
COMMUNITIES:Bagley, Bridgeport

TOTAL MILES:2.25 miles linear
DIFFICULTY:Difficult

POINTS OF INTEREST: Mississippi River, Wisconsin River, Passenger Pigeon Memorial, American Indian Burial Mounds, Bluff Trail, Treasure Cave



Directions and Trail Map





Address for your GPS: 13081 State Park Ln, Bagley, WI 53801
| coordinates: N42.971345, W091.111726 |

From Milwaukee3 Hours
From Madison2 Hours
From Green Bay4 Hours
From Wausau4 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago4.5 Hours



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Views from Wyalusing State Park near Prairie Du Chien WI
Views from Wyalusing State Park near Prairie Du Chien WI




The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin


The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
Treasure Cave - Wyalusing State Park  Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

Treasure Cave - Wyalusing State Park Wisconsin
Treasure Cave - Wyalusing State Park Wisconsin

Treasure Cave - Wyalusing State Park Wisconsin
Treasure Cave - Wyalusing State Park Wisconsin

The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
The Sentinel Ridge Trail - Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin

Campsites at Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin
Campsites at Wyalusing State Park - Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin