Ferry Bluff State Natural Area

Today: After a hard overnight rain, the skies were clear this morning.  The temperature was back in the 60’s.  It would have been a good day to get out the chain saw and get some work done on my own property, but days like today are meant for hiking.

Ferry Bluff is located a few miles west of Sauk City, WI.  The ferry operated during the late 1800’s and transported people, property and livestock. According to the informational sign, Moses and Perses Laws pulled the ferry back and forth with a rowboat and a tow line.

The trail starts where Honey Creek meets the Wisconsin River.

It follows switchbacks back and forth with an 800′ change in elevation on a short trail.

The trails flattens out at the top.  There are a couple of man-made benches for sitting and viewing.  There are also a couple of rock ledges near the edge for sitting and viewing.  The views up and down the river are spectacular.  These photos are taken from Cactus Bluff.

Scientists estimate that the bluffs are 500 million years old.   Spear points and other tools show that humans may have hunted mammoth and mastodon here 10,000 years ago.   During the 1600’s, this river was used as a water highway to transport furs and goods.

From Cactus Bluff, the trail climbs steeply to Ferry Bluff.  There were several large fallen trees blocking the trail.  I tweaked my foot jumping down about four feet from one of those trees–just enough to remind myself that I’m not 35 anymore.

I also interrupted a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources workshop with about a dozen DNR specialists.  As I passed, they invited me to stick around and listen, so I did for a few  minutes.  It was interesting to hear the competing viewpoints about how to best manage the property with limited funds. The forestry guy talked about how the oaks represented cords of firewood and linear feet of lumbar.  The naturalist talked about the unique nature of the first layer of undergrowth and flowers, which would not exist without the oak trees.  Hunters and fishermen were represented also.  Me? I just came for the views and exercise.

The trail ended at the towering edge of Ferry Bluff.

Below you can see where Honey Creek enters the Wisconsin River. There was a steep drop off.  I wasn’t going to get any closer for a better picture.