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Natural Bridge State Park Loop

Intermediate

Trail

2.6 mile 4.2 kilometer loop
82% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 566' 172 m
Descent: -566' -172 m
High: 1,164' 355 m
Low: 840' 256 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Trail shared by Austin Lynch

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Minor Issues 74 days ago See History

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This loop circles Natural Bridge State Park.

Austin Lynch

Features Birding · Views · Wildlife

Overview

Take in oak woods and the unique sandstone arch that gives the park its name.

Description

The large parking area on County Highway C marks the trailhead. From there, wander around on the Indian Moccasin Trail and Whitetail Hiking Trail to enjoy all that the park has to offer! The park's native land cover is mainly oak woods, with open fields and patches of native prairie. A number of wildflowers bloom throughout the growing season and bird watchers may see such species as turkey vultures, pileated woodpeckers and, in winter, bald eagles.

The sandstone arch is prominent on the northern part of the trail, accessed from the Indian Moccasin Trail West. Careful observation will lead you to seeing evidence of human settlement here thousands of years ago, along with some more recent usage.

History & Background

The natural bridge in Wisconsin's Sauk County has attracted people for thousands of years. Radiocarbon assay and study of the rock and its layers indicate that people were living here from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating from Wisconsin.

Warren Wittry of the Wisconsin Historical Society excavated the rock shelter in 1957. His team found evidence of human use over a very long period. They found pieces of charred wood, presumably from fire pits, which were dated between 9000 and 8000 BC. This would make the rock shelter one of the oldest-dated sites for human occupancy in northeastern North America. Evidence indicates that the shelter was used only periodically at first, perhaps as a hunting or seasonal camp. Later it was inhabited year-round.

The earliest reference to this bridge in European-Americans' history is in the Old Settlers' Association of Sauk County Report.

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Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

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Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#3266

Overall
  3.8 from 5 votes
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Run Rankings

#15

in Wisconsin

#3,266

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1,217 Since Sep 7, 2017
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Photos

The natural bridge itself.
Sep 7, 2017 near Prairie…, WI
Fields and forests in Natural Bridge State Park.
Sep 7, 2017 near Prairie…, WI
Natural Bridge at Natural Bridge State Park
May 31, 2018 near Prairie…, WI

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