Friday, January 23, 2015

Roznos Meadow, Merrimac Segment, and Connecting Route to Ferry Landing

Love the beauty of the bluffs at Devil's Lake State Park? How about the slippery ice and snow covered rocks on the ascents and descents? Two sections of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail offer fantastic views of the bluffs and surrounding hills without the slippery climb. The Roznos Meadow Trail and the Merrimac Segment provide easy hiking terrain with views of hills and bluffs in all directions.

If hiking west to east, the Roznos Meadow Trail, part of the Devil's Lake Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, leads to the Merrimac Preserve Segment. The Merrimac Preserve Segment runs from the south-east corner of Devil’s Lake State Park to Merrimac, and is managed by the Riverland Conservancy. It meanders though restored prairie, oak savanna, and wetlands. Less widely known, the Merrimac Trail Segment amazes and delights with nonstop views the bluffs at Devil's Lake and the surrounding hills.

Starting from Highway 113, I did two hikes. First, a quick 2.3 mile (3.7 km) out and back on the Roznos Meadow Trail to complete the Devil's Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail. I then headed in the opposite direction to do a 9.3 mile (15 km) out and back to the east, hiking the Merrimac Segment of the Ice Age Trail and the connecting route to the Merrimac Ferry Crossing. If you have two cars, the Merrimac Segment and connecting route to the Merrimac Ferry crossing is 5 miles (8 km).

Roznos Meadow trail marker at South Lake Drive.

Roznos Meadow views of the bluffs at Devil's Lake State Park.

Entering the Merrimac Preserve from Highway 113.

View of Devil's Lake East Bluff from the Merrimac Segment.

Views along the Merrimac Segment.

Merrimac Ferry landing on connecting route.

Lake Wisconsin from Merrimac Ferry landing with blue skies just in time for the back track.

Roznos Meadow, Merrimac Segment, and connecting route hiked out and back from Hwy 113.

Trail Conditions - Well marked, easy to follow trails, several fallen trees cross the trail in the Merrimac Preserve Segment. Overcast and 29°F (-1.7°C) increasing to 32°F (0°C) and partly sunny. About 3/4 inches (2 cm) fluffy snow over hard packed ice and snow. Mid-afternoon the snow in open areas melted.

Distance Covered Today - 11.6 miles (18.6 km).

Difficulty - Easy (Roznos Meadow), easy to moderate (Merrimac Segment).

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

Concerns - The Merrimac Preserve Segment of the Ice Age Trail is closed to hiking when certain events are taking place. According to the signage at the preserve, these include deer gun hunting season for disabled persons and muzzle loader hunting season. My camera kept fogging up with condensation, I recommend bringing a camera on this segment even if you do not normally hike with a camera. The views and photo ops are fantastic. Missed many good shots due to condensation on my lens. I am happy to have those photos I was able to take, but they do not do the scenery justice.

Highlights - Fantastic views of the surrounding bluffs and hills.

Total Official Ice Age Trail Miles Completed to Date - Trail 18.3 miles (29.5 km), connecting route 1.4 miles (2.3 km), total 19.7 miles (31.7 km).

Total Additional Ice Age Trail Backtracking, Bushwhacking, Loop Backing, and Diversionary Miles Completed -  18.9 miles (30.4 km).

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