Saturday, January 17, 2015

January Hike on the Sauk Point Trail

The Sauk Point Trail is part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and travels east-west between Parfrey's Glen and Hwy 113 through the Devil's Lake State Park. It is located 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI. The Sauk Point Trail is 4.5 miles (7.2 km) in length according to the map, 4.2 miles (6.8 km) according to the signage at the park, but only 3.9 miles (6.3 km) according to my GPS app. If you don't bring 2 cars, plan on hiking a total of about 7.8 miles (12.6 km) out and back.

I parked at the Highway 113 lot, taking the Ice Age trail east, hiking the Sauk Point Trail to Parfrey's Glen and back. The trail ascends to Sauk Point which resides near the half-way point, and descends back down to Parfrey's Glen. I've heard on a clear day Blue Mounds, the Wisconsin River, and even the capital building in Madison can be seen from Sauk Point. I'm not sure whether it's true about the capital building, but despite overcast skies, I did enjoy a fantastic view of the hills, with a nice viewing bench for lingering to enjoy. 

Nice spot for enjoying the view of rolling hills.

Unusual for a January weekday, I wasn't alone on the trail. On this hike I ran into a couple hiking and a cross country runner. The couple were kind enough to pick up a basket that slipped off my trekking pole and hand it to me at the parking area. I also found myself startled by a wildly barking unattended dog and some unnerving graffiti, breathing sighs of relief when I put distance between myself and those two little surprises.

So imagine you're doing an 8 mile hike. You see nothing unusual on the 4 miles out. You do an about face and begin your return. About three miles from your car you're surprised with a little message -  "die" on your left. You wonder why you didn't notice it when you passed by earlier. A few steps later, on your right, you see "ICU".  I cannot begin to understand the purpose for this graffiti. I must say, if I had been on a thru-hike rather than day hiking, I might have had a rough night of sleep.

Unfriendly graffiti.

More unfriendly graffiti.

Friendlier smiley blaze graffiti on a small tree that had fallen across the trail.

This is not a strenuous hike, but it's on the hilly side of moderate. When doing this hike, if you are not in good shape keep in mind the ascent from the east (Parfrey's Glen) is steeper than the ascent on the west end of the trail as shown on the terrain map. If you start and Hwy 113 and hike down into Parfrey's Glen and are not up for the return ascent, you might like to bring two cars and leave one at each end of the trail.

Trail Conditions - Well marked, easy to follow trails, 29°F (-1.7°C), 3-4 inches of snow cover. A couple fallen trees across the trail, small and low to the ground - easy to step over.

Distance Covered - 7.8 miles (12.6 km).

Difficulty - Moderate, hilly with a somewhat lengthy ascent from Parfrey's Glen.

Location - Devil's Lake State Park Ice Age Trail parking area on Highway 113. South of Baraboo.

Trail Magic - Came up on a couple intimidated from moving down the trail by an unattended barking dog, I passed by them and did the honors of approaching the dog first. Behind me now, they returned the favor by picking up a basket that had fallen off my trekking pole and handing it to me at the parking area.

Concerns - "Die" and "ICU" graffiti.

Highlights - The view from Sauk Point, smiley blaze, fungi snow shelves.

Trail head at Parfrey's Glen.

A beautiful January day for a hike.

Fungi snow shelves.

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