I returned last night from a wonderful five-day "Wisconsin Adventure" with my good friends Kathleen and Joey. It was actually the second road trip vacation the three of us have taken together. Two years ago we followed the Mississippi River down to St. Louis. For more on that trip, see the previous Wild Reed series "Road Trip to St. Louis," which starts here.
For our latest journey together we traveled to and explored the beautiful area of south-west Wisconsin.
Part 1: Black River Falls
We left St. Paul/Minneapolis last Saturday afternoon, July 17, and drove south on I-94 W across the Mississippi River from Minnesota into Wisconsin, down to Black River Falls.
Some friends had lent me a five-person tent, but upon arrival at the camp ground we discovered that there were no tent poles included! As a result, we stayed that night at a Motel 8 in nearby Neillsville.
We took our bikes along with us on this trip, and so next day we cycled around Black River Falls State Forest before later exploring nearby Castle Mound. That night we traveled westward back across the Mississippi into Minnesota where we stayed in Winona at the home of friends of Kathleen's. They kindly loaned us a two-person tent and I bought another one at the local Walmart! The camping part of our trip was back on track!
Above and below: Black River Falls State Forest.
Above and right: Neillsville, WI.
The imposing building pictured above was originally built as a jail in 1897. According to the City of Neillsville website:
The LaCrosse architectural firm of Stozie & Schick utilized the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style for the 1897 Jail for Clark County. The structure not only housed convicted prisoners but also provided a finely appointed Victorian residence for the Sheriff and his family.
Above and below: Castle Mound State Park, Black River Falls, WI.
Here's what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has to say about this unique and beautiful place:
Castle Mound is a long, narrow, weathering butte rising 180 feet above the surrounding sand plain and composed of Cambrian sandstone about 400 million years old. A variety of exposures and microclimates has resulted in contrasting forest communities on opposite sides of the mound. Exposed and shaded cliffs up to 30 feet high occur along the central backbone ridge, and sandstone boulders litter the sloping forest floor. The protected northeast slope is forested with a mixed pine forest of white and red pines with Hill's oak, white oak, paper birch, red maple, and large-toothed aspen. . . . The dry southwest face is wooded with jack pine and oak. . . . A hiking trail traverses the area and there is an observation tower near the center of the mound. Castle Mound Pine Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a state natural area in November 1952.
Right: Kathleen and Joey atop the observation tower - Sunday, July 18, 2010.
Left: The Wild Man of the Wisconsin Woods!
Above and below: Views from Castle Mound.
NEXT: The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail