Hiking the Settlers Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park


Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park
Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park


As its name implies, The Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain is a route established by early European settlers in the rugged, rocky, and dramatically scenic Kickapoo River Valley. Wildcat Mountain State Park is located at the heart of Wisconsin's Driftless Area - a region of ancient mountains spared from glaciation in the last ice age.

The Driftless Area covers Southwestern Wisconsinsin and parts of Iowa and Minnesota. It is one of the rare places in the Midwest where hikers can experience mountain-like hiking with intense mountaineering rated climbs. The Old Settler's Trail is a moderate to difficult 2.5 mile loop with an average grade of 3%.




Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park
Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park


Wildcat Mountain State Park doesn't offer many miles of hiking trails, but it's two major trails (The Old Settler's Trail and the Hemlock Trail) are both at the maximum end for difficulty and scenic beauty in Wisconsin.

The Old Settler's Trail provides several heart pounding climbs and one level 5 mountaineering rated climb. There are scenic vistas at the trailhead and at Taylor's Hollow overlook. Hikers get up close to sculpted sandstone rock formations and enjoy a deep hardwood forest that burns with vibrant colors in the fall. The trail is well established single track that is not difficult to navigate, but due to its five climbs it rates as a difficult hike in my book.

The state park at Wildcat and the surrounding Kickapoo Valley Reserve is my favorite place to seek out adventure and nature in Wisconsin. The combined area of the reserve and park encompass 10,000 acres of pristine landscapes carved out by the wayward Kickapoo River. The River itself provides for the best canoeing and rafting in the State; while the hidden valleys around the river offer unique hiking and camping options. And, biking and horseback riding in the Kickapoo valley are second to none.

Wildcat Mountain and its Old Settler's Trail are most popular in the autumn colors season. Generally, peak color in the Kickapoo Valley hits on the first full weekend of October. There are several good overlooks in the park to get wide views of forest covered hills and valleys. The golden colored leaves of birch trees are especially nice to walk through on the Old Settler's Trail.

Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario WI
Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario WI


Overview: Wildcat Mountain State Park - Old Settlers Trail


COUNTY: Vernon
COMMUNITIES: Ontario

TOTAL MILES: 2.4 Mile Loop
DIFFICULTY: Difficult

POINTS OF INTEREST: Wildcat Mountain State Park, Taylor's Hollow


Directions and Trail Map




If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner.

Address for your GPS:E 13660 WI-33, Ontario, WI 54651
| coordinates: 43.703269, -90.579235 |

From Milwaukee3 Hours
From Madison2 Hours
From Green Bay3.5 Hours
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis3 Hours
From Chicago4 Hours


Photos



Sandstone formations on the Old Settler's Trail
Sandstone formations on the Old Settler's Trail 


Sandstone formations on the Old Settler's Trail
Sandstone formations on the Old Settler's Trail 


Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario WI
Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario WI

Trailhead of the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park
Trailhead of the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park

Taylor's Hollow Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park
Taylor's Hollow Overlook at Wildcat Mountain State Park


Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park
Hiking on the Old Settler's Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park