Hiking Ablemans Gorge



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Blast Shelter at Ableman's Gorge
Blast Shelter at Ableman's Gorge

Exposed rock faces create a dramatic gorge along the sleepy Baraboo River in Rock Springs. Ableman's Gorge is a natural cut into the Baraboo Range, an ancient quartzite formation, which pinches the Baraboo River, a railroad, and Highway 136 into a tight S curve.

A state natural area at the site of a former quarry and scientific research site preserves virgin forest along the steep Baraboo river banks and the rock formations in the former quarry. The site is also a designated national historic landmark honoring the seminal geological studies of Charles Van Hise. A popular artesian well is also located on the property. 





Baraboo River at Ableman's Gorge
Baraboo River at Ableman's Gorge




An established 1 mile double loop hiking trail brings visitors to Ableman's Gorge into a former quarry and up close to the ancient quartzite rock faces. The trail is very easy and popular with families. An additional 1/2 mile of hiking is available on top of the ridge along unmarked rustic and difficult trails.

Most people who visit Ableman's gorge will simply stop to fill a bottle of pure mineral water from Rock Springs' namesake artesian well. There are two oblong pull-offs on the shoulder of highway 136 across from the Rock Springs Water Company. The well is centered in-between them. These pull-offs are not parking areas - but turn arounds for the tanker trucks to back into the Rock Springs Corp; so don't plan to leave your car longer than it takes to fill up a 5 gallon jug of precious mineral water.

Further down the road there is another pull off with a Wisconsin historical marker. This is the site of Van Hise Rock. Charles Van Hise was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and sketched the rock while researching the development of mountains. The sketch was published in many academic journals and was used to prove new theories of metamorphic geology in the 1880's. Today, UW students  still visit Van Hise Rock to see evidence of precambrian metamorphosis. This site was also designated as a national historic landmark in 1997.

Van Hise Rock is a good place to park a car and take a walk on the 1 mile double loop. The trail begins without a marker across the highway from the Van Hise pull-off. You'll immediately be immersed in thick forest and get up close to the exposed rock faces of the gorge. Along the trail you will come across the remains of a dynamite storage shelter built into the cliff side. Further along the trail the quarry floor opens up. There you will find the remains of a blast shelter.

For the more adventurous, unmarked rustic trails navigate the top of the stone bluffs. To reach them, park at the gravel lot alongside the Baraboo River that is just around the bend from Van Hise Rock. A precarious and difficult vertical trail rapidly climbs the bluff from the parking lot. Various off shoot trails connect to this line. The main line is apparent and follows the crest of the rock bluff. There are several points with long views of Ableman's Gorge and Rock Springs.

 
Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge/td>



Ableman's Gorge State Natural Area Trail


COUNTY: Sauk
COMMUNITIES: Rock Springs

TOTAL MILES: .8 mile double loop
DIFFICULTY: Easy




Directions and Trail Map


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Address for your GPS: 598 N River St, Rock Springs, Village of, WI 53961
| coordinates: 43.488576, -89.915843 |

From Milwaukee2 Hours
From Madison1 Hour
From Green Bay3 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis3.5 Hours
From Chicago3 Hours


Photos


Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge


Blast Shelter at Ableman's Gorge
Dynamite Storage at Ableman's Gorge

Historic sign at Ableman's Gorge
Historic sign at Ableman's Gorge

Van Hise Rock at Ableman's Gorge
Van Hise Rock at Ableman's Gorge

Rock Springs Artesian Well at Ableman's Gorge State Natural Area

Ableman's Gorge Entrance
Ableman's Gorge Entrance

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge



Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge

Ableman's Gorge
Ableman's Gorge



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