Hiking to Hanson Rock in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

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The Kickapoo River Valley is well known for its world class canoeing, paddling, and rafting, But the valley is also a hiker's paradise. The expansive Kickapoo River Valley Reserve and Wildcat Mountain State Park weave together threads of wilderness in the photogenic Driftless Area of Southwestern Wisconsin. Dozens of miles of equestrian and hiking trails interconnect and bring hikers to contemplative heights and deep hidden valleys. Interspersed are remote and rustic campsites.

The Hanson Rock Trail is a 6.25 mile lollipop course in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve that provides two level 5 mountaineering climbs, a grand scenic vista, and a casual and easy walk along the banks of the Kickapoo.




A picnic site at the top of Hanson Rock in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve



Of the many areas of Wisconsin that brand themselves as God's Country, I believe that Vernon County has the strongest claim. Spirituality seems to gather in clouds of mist that shroud the mouths of hidden valleys. It is a landscape that speaks in sacred ancient tongues; a place where 12,000 year old petroglyphs are carved into the sheer cliffs of Hanson Rock. That the reverent Amish have made this region their home is fitting. And, that much of this land is owned by the Ho Chunk Nation is just.

The Hanson Rock route is popular with horseback riders. But, it is easy for hikers to share this trail. The majority of the course is a wide two track footpath. But, a wise hiker will be vigilant for steaming piles on this hike.

The trail begins at Campsite P. There is a grassy shoulder on Weister Road for parking. The course begins on the West Ridge and heads uphill for the first mile. After reaching the intersection with the Hanson Rock Trail the trail accelerates its climb up the back side of Hanson Rock. A loop trail at the top of Hanson Rock takes hikers to the Hanson Rock overlook.

The Hanson Rock Trail then descends rapidly to meet up with the West Ridge Trail near Campsite F in Hansen's Hollow (The most remote campsite in the reserve). A spring box at the campsite provides clean flowing water. From the campsite walk along a leisurely section of the West Ridge Trail that follows for a 1/4 mile along the Kickapoo River. At the intersection with the Ice Cave Trail stay on the West Ridge Trail and prepare for a mile long mountaineering rated climb. The trail is a wide and clean road here through deep forest. You will pass another trail intersection with the Little Canada Trail - Stay on the West Ridge Trail to complete the lollipop.

Iterations of this trail course can make a backpacking weekend out of the trails in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. But, on its own - this course makes for a solid morning or afternoon day hike. It takes approximately three hours to hike the lollipop I've described.

The Kickapoo River ford crossing from the West Ridge Trail to equestrian trail to campsite G




Overview: Hanson Rock Trail at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve


COUNTY: Vernon
COMMUNITIES: La Farge

TOTAL MILES: 6.25
DIFFICULTY: Moderate

POINTS OF INTEREST: Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Kickapoo River, Hanson Rock



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: S2666 Weister Creek Rd, LaFarge, WI 54639
| coordinates: 43.630472, -90.650342 |

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



Photos


West Ridge Trail
West Ridge Trail

Hanson Rock Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Hanson Rock Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Hanson Rock Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Hanson Rock Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve


Intersection near campsite F leading to Hanson Rock from the West Ridge Trail
Intersection near campsite F leading to Hanson Rock from the West Ridge Trail

Entrance to Campsite F in Hansen Hollow - Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Entrance to Campsite F in Hansen Hollow - Kickapoo Valley Reserve


West Ridge Trail near Campsite P