Danielle St. Louis
Blue Mound State Park (Winter)
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
Inclement weather meant staying closer to home, but did not mean canceling our adventure. Blue Mound State Park is just a ways down Hwy 151, and the heaviest snow was holding off until later in the afternoon. So we jumped in the car with snowshoes and dog booties, some extra water, and a few other "in case of emergency items" and made our way to Blue Mound SP. I stopped in the office to buy my WI State Park pass for the year and to consult with the ranger on duty about our best trail options. Like many other WI State Parks, many of the trails turn into cross country ski trails in the winter, so the ranger was helpful and highlighted a map with all of the trails that Lucky and I are permitted on in the winter. He also recommended the Overlode Mountain Bike Trail, and based on his recommendation, we went with that route. Mostly.
What We Liked: Often I feel like dog owners and their K9 companions get sidelined to the least exciting trails during the winter because skiers take priority. This is not the case when mountain bike trails turn into pet friendly snowshoe trails! Now this trail is ours alone! Literally, we didn't see a single other person or dog on Overlode, but we could tell someone and dog had trekked before us as there was a noticeable trail and yellow snow marks to follow. At times, in the forest alone with just my dog and snowflakes lightly falling, I felt like I could have been in the back country of some state more rugged than Wisconsin (no offense my beloved WI!)
What We Didn't Like: I might have been a bit ambitious choosing this trail when A.) I'm not in tip top avid adventurer shape and B.) the second round of a two-part snow storm was bearing down on the area. Because the trail is a single track mountain bike trail, it does what single track mountain bike trails do. It traverses up and down the sides of a gulch, skipping occasionally over the stream, and switching back and forth this way and that through the woods, making it impossible for me to tell how much progress we were making. I didn't run my GPS during this hike because I was conserving battery (in case of emergency). So all I had was my best guess of how long it would take us to go a mile on this trail in these conditions. When we finally came across the road, I thought "finally! a landmark I can check for on the map!" only to realize my map was no longer in my pocket. With no idea how much trail was left, and with the snow falling faster and harder, we decided to bail on Overlode and just take the road back. Some mile markers along this trail would be welcomed additions.
When I originally wrote up this entry, I think I downplayed part of the experience because I didn't want to worry anyone (my parents). There was a moment--actually a number of moments-- when I was seriously concerned that Lucky and I might not ever make it out of Blue Mound. I often reflect on the false sense of security I have when I'm hiking in Wisconsin. It was incredibly foolhardy of me to go out alone on this day. And, as I sat in the woods as the snow started to come down harder and faster, I contemplated Lucky's loyalty. If I were to get lost in the woods, would he stay with me until help came? Would he go and find help and bring them back to my location? Or, would he see a woodland creature, take off after it, and never come back? Or even worse, wait by my side until I died and then eat my face??? As much as I love Lucky, and as much as I think he loves me, I can't help but think he'd be more likely to do either of the later than the former.
I decided to add this update as I am working on the post for our most recent visit to Blue Mound. I'm not sure what it is about this park, but our visits here often include me contemplating Lucky's loyalty.
Want more information about hiking with your dog at Blue Mound State Park? Order your copy of A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks now!
Through the University of Wisconsin Press site.
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