The Wildcat Mountain State Park is located in Vernon County, Wisconsin. This huge park is made up of over 3,500 acres of wilderness. Visitors will find steep mountain bluffs, the wide Kickapoo River, and a narrow river valley along the base of the park. Special wildlife viewing stations are set up along the many trails so that visitors can watch the local birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. The Wildcat Mountain State Park was originally home to ancient native tribes who lived along the river basin. Evidence of these ancient people can still be seen in the state park today along the trails and bluffs.
A Variety of Trails
Wildcat Mountain State Park offers several different kinds of trails for visitors to enjoy. More than 20 miles of traditional hiking trails wind through the park. Each trail has a different level of difficulty so that more experienced hikers can feel challenged while less experienced hikers can enjoy a good walk. 15 miles of horse trails are available for those who would prefer to view the wilderness on horseback. A 1-mile interpretive nature trail informs visitors about the different types of plants and animals that live in the park. In the winter, visitors can enjoy 7 miles of cross country ski track as well as 17 miles of snow shoe trails.
The Kickapoo River
One of the defining elements of the Wildcat Mountain State Park is the large Kickapoo River that runs through the park. This river provides several different types of adventures for travelers. Visitors can fish from the banks, or hire a boat to take them out into the deeper water for bigger fish. Brown trout spawn in the Kickapoo and can be caught easily during some parts of the year. The river is also a good place to view local wildlife, including green herons and muskrats.
Different Types of Campgrounds
Wildcat Mountain State Park offers three different kinds of camp grounds. There are specific camping areas for families, for horseback riders, and for large groups. Each of the camp grounds provides spectacular views down over the Kickapoo River from the bluffs. A shower building is available for all campers through the summer months, but is closed after October. Camp grounds must be reserved in advance, regardless of the type of camp ground being requested. Anyone planning to camp in Wisconsin should be aware that firewood from more than 25 miles away from the park will not be allowed inside the park due to the dangers of emerald ash borers.
Canoe the River
Many people visit Wildcat Mountain State Park strictly to canoe on the Kickapoo river. Visitors can bring their own canoes to the river, or they can rent a canoe in nearby Ontario. The slow moving Kickapoo is ideal for drifting along in a canoe and observing the plant and animal life that is not visible from the shore. The river banks are teeming with wildlife that would be difficult to see from any vantage other than in a canoe in the middle of the river. Visitors can canoe individually or in large groups, depending on the size of the canoe.
Sandstone Mountain Bluffs
Wildcat Mountain State Park is named after one of its impressive sandstone mountain bluffs. Wildcat mountain is made completely from sandstone, except for the very top of the mountain which is covered in limestone. A twin to Wildcat Mountain is Mount Pisgah, which is also sandstone capped by limestone. Visitors can explore the tops of these mountains for a view of the complete river valley, or they can enjoy the beautiful mountains from the river valley below. Hiking trails of varying difficulty traverse the sides of the mountains to give visitors different options for getting to the top.
Ancient Indian Mounds
Archeologists who have done research in the Kickapoo Valley have unearthed human artifacts that are over 2,000 years old. These artifacts show that the Wildcat Mountain State Park is situated in an area that has been populated since ancient times. Visitors can see ancient mounds and other artifacts in and around the park. Historians believe that the ancient people used this area as a hunting ground and actually settled in an area to the north of Wildcat Mountain.