Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hiking rugged and rocky Interstate Park in Wisconsin October 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Rocky terrain defines Wisconsin's Interstate Park.

Rocky terrain defines Wisconsin’s Interstate Park.

HIKING INTERSTATE PARK along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin requires the sure-footedness of a mountain goat, the eagle eye of a bird of prey or, minimal, a walking stick or steady hand of a friend or family member.

I discovered that last week while exploring the park with my husband, Randy, who offered his hand numerous times to guide me safely along rocky paths.

I’ll admit that, with my camera in tow and an artificial right hip, I tend to be more cautious than most.

Rock steps along a trail.

Rock steps along a trail.

But we pretty much tossed caution aside when Randy decided we should hike, I mean climb, the .8-mile Eagle Peak Trail to the highest point overlooking the valley. Here’s a description of that path from a park publication: unsurfaced; stone stairs; uneven and steep terrain.

Pine needles and fallen leaves hide trail obstacles.

Pine needles and fallen leaves hide trail obstacles.

Add to that pine needles and leaves hiding underfoot rocks, plus sticks that roll quite easily under soles, and you have treacherous conditions. I’m not an experienced hiker, so take my comments from that perspective.

Ferns sprout from rock along Eagle Point Trail.

Ferns sprout from rock along Eagle Peak Trail.

In the end, this trail does not live up to the promised end given trees block the valley view. But, if you desire a hiking challenge, this is your trail.

The rocky St. Croix River gorge is stunning in its craggy beauty.

The rocky St. Croix River gorge is stunning in its craggy beauty.

Randy poses at the scenic overlook.

Randy poses at the scenic overlook. And, yes, I had no option but to shoot into the sun.

Rock everywhere along this river.

Rock everywhere along this river.

Much easier to traverse is the .4-mile Pothole Trail, the other path we had time to walk during our 90-minute visit to the park. Stone stairs and unevenness also define this trail. But there’s much less climbing and the view of the Dalles of the St. Croix River gorge is spectacular. I even pushed through my fear of heights to enjoy the view.

Watch for potholes. I felt like I was watching my step all the time.

Watch for potholes. I felt like I was watching my step all the time.

You’ll also discover potholes here pocking rock. Yes, you’ll want to watch your feet lest you step into one.

Driving through Interstate Park.

Driving through the Wisconsin side of Interstate Park.

Interstate Park deserves more time than the 1 ½ hours we gave it. But daylight was fading and we didn’t want to spend $10 for a single day pass. Once upon a time, a Minnesota State Park sticker would allow you free access to Wisconsin’s Interstate Park, but no more. Interstate Park continues on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix. I’ll take you there, too.

To notice details, you have to stop. Otherwise you miss them because you're too preoccupied watching your feet.

To notice details, you have to stop. Because I was constantly watching my step, I felt like I missed out on a lot.

Wear your hiking shoes.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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20 Responses to “Hiking rugged and rocky Interstate Park in Wisconsin”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Ah yes, this is exactly as I remembered. You are so correct in your description of the hiking trail!!!!! There have been several mishaps (even fatal) over the years because of someone stepping too close to the cliff edge to get a better view and falling. The beautiful ruggedness is what I remember the most.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Hiking boots are a must for something like this!!! I have a nice sturdy pair that I love and now you have me itching to go hiking but my favorite hiking partner is in Texas. Rats.

  3. Beautiful. I imagine that stepping into that pothole would give you a nasty broken leg.

  4. Looks like a wonderful spot. We have similar rocky hiking at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. I love hiking in places like that, but I have to stop and catch my breath now and then. Not as young or fit as I was. At least you didn’t see snakes. A high school classmate of mine just posted pictures of her hike in Tennessee this week; she saw two cottonmouth snakes on the trail! Yikes.

  5. Beautiful Captures – love a good road pic too – makes me want to escape to the Great Outdoors right now 🙂 Happy Day!

  6. Ooh, I love that very last photo.

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    I think it’s lovely and I really enjoy getting into the outdoors and doing walks like this as I find them very therapeutic. You seem to manage really well with your hip replacement xx

  8. Jackie Says:

    We actually hiked these very trails with the kids years ago, as I mentioned in your previous post, my oldest boy Brice (then about 9)is not a cautious child and I had several near heart attacks along those treacherous paths. That child….
    Anyway, it’s looks like you and Randy had a great time exploring this beautiful area, the photo’s are awesome as always. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Dan Traun Says:

    I have never visiting the WI park. It looks equally as nice as it’s sister park across the river. I concur with craves…love that road shot. Lovely views/shots throughout.


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