The Black River Forest - Hiking to Castle Mound


View from the lookout perch at Castle Mound in the Black River State Forest
View from the lookout perch at Castle Mound in the Black River State Forest

The Black River State Forest is a 68,000 acre managed public forest in Jackson County. There are many miles of hiking, mountain biking, and ATV trails in the forest. Only a few of these miles are reserved strictly for hiking. The nature trail at Castle Mound is a two mile hiking only trail which climbs to a lookout perch on top of Castle Mound.

The remainder of the trail encircles the base of the mound leading through two distinctive ecosystems. This short and easy trail is only a few minutes drive from an interstate exit at Black River Falls, and is a convenient stop for a stretch and a walk for those driving between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. It is also a fall color hotspot in Wisconsin that is sought out by leaf peepers in autumn. The area is usually in peak color on the first and second full weekend of October.




Fall Colors in the Black River State Forest
Fall Colors in the Black River State Forest


The Castle Mound nature trail is short and relatively easy. For the majority of its two mile loop the trail travels on a wide grassy two track footpath. A spur trail heads up to the top of Castle Mound. The observation perch at the top of Castle Mound is the big attraction on this trail - and most hikers walk out-and-back to and from the Castle Mound summit.

The trail up to Castle Mound is a bit more difficult on a single track that rapidly climbs the rocky butte. Hikers navigate around pediments of ancient lime and sandstone and through sculptural crags. A short climb up a steel access ladder leads to an observation deck at the summit where you can get a great view of the expansive state forest area.

The remainder of the loop trail is pleasant and easy. The trail travels through a dry pine forest on the southwest face of the mound and then turns back through a more wet and cool boreal forest that is dominated by birch and hardwoods on the northeast side of the mound. Be on the lookout for wolves, black bears, and elk when hiking in the Black River Forest.

There is a campground at Castle Mound that is especially picturesque and popular in fall. Though the proximity to highway 12 and I-94 make this campground a bit loud with constant traffic noise. Castle Mound is also the staging point for one of the major mountain biking trails in the forest.

The spur trail up to the perch at Castle Mound
The spur trail up to the perch at Castle Mound


Overview: Black River State Forest Nature Trail


COUNTY: Jackson
COMMUNITIES: Black River Falls

TOTAL MILES: 2.0 loop
DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate

POINTS OF INTEREST: Castle Mound, Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area, Black River State Forest


Directions and Trail Map


Address for your GPS: W10314 US-12, Black River Falls, WI 54615


| coordinates: 44.284172, -90.827559 |

From Milwaukee3 Hours
From Madison2 Hours
From Green Bay3 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis2 Hours
From Chicago4 Hours



Photos



Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 


Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 


Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

steps to the lookout perch at Castle Mound
steps to the lookout perch at Castle Mound


View from the Castle Mound Overlook
View from the Castle Mound Overlook

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail 

View from the Castle Mound Overlook
View from the Castle Mound Overlook

View from the Castle Mound Overlook
View from the Castle Mound Overlook

Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail
Along the Black River Forest Nature Trail