Kickapoo Valley Reserve, SNA #354 (149/675)

Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a massive property containing a range of forest types, as well as sedge meadow, shrub0-carr, alder thicket, swamp, sandstone cliffs, and the Kickapoo River.  Located adjacent to Wildcat Mountain State Park, the natural area is accessible via numerous roads and highways that course through it.  A few trailheads have parking areas including one on CTH P west of STH 131, from which I began my hike.  Note that a  day use or annual permit is required to visit, purchasble at the Visitor’s Center (on STH 131, south of Harris Road) or at several self-registration stations.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve has an interesting history.  In the 1960’s and ’70’s, much of the land in the area was bought up for a flood control project including 149 farms.  Economic and environmental factors led to the end of that possibility and the land was given to the state and to the Bureau of Indian Affairs as trustee for the Ho-Chunk Nation.  Out of this combined 8569 acres, nearly 3700 is designated as a natural area split between two parcels.  One could spend several days exploring its various nooks and crannies.  As mentioned, I started from CTH P and took a variety of trails that snaked through the southern parcel of this property.  Some trails are hiking only, others are equestrian, some are for mountain biking, and yet others are multi-use.  I didn’t see anyone else on the trails when I was there but in general found them to be poorly marked, particularly at intersections.  Some spur trails turned out to be just that, spurs, and unmarked on the maps.  Note that when an equestrian trail crosses a creek or river, there is not likely to be a bridge as the water is meant to be crossed on the back of your trusty steed.  The other trail types are fitted with bridges where appropriate, of course.  I mainly stuck to the trail network and therefore missed out on finding the rarer species present here.  That fact and the off-peak season of this visit combined with amount of area left to explore certainly make this site a high-ranking choice to revisit soon.

More of my photos (and full-res) from Kickapoo Valley Reserve can be viewed here.

Additional Information

SNA # 354
County Vernon
Natural Communities / Geology River, Cliff, Bluff, Northern Forest, Southern Forest, Southern Sedge Meadow, Shrub-Carr, Alder Thicket, Hardwood Swamp
Size (Acres) 3680
Parking Parking Areas (gravel), Roadsides
Trails Yes
Easy to Find No
Best Seen By Foot
Marked Boundaries No
Ownership State of Wisconsin; Bureau of Indian Affairs; More Info: Wisconsin DNR
Located Within

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Dates Visited 6.19.10

Vernon County

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