Danielle St. Louis
Natural Bridge State Park
Updated: Mar 30, 2022
When looking for parks to hike in the winter, Natural Bridge State Park seemed like a no-brainer. There's only two trails totaling roughly 4 miles of hiking, and neither are groomed as cross-country ski trails, which means dogs are permitted all year round.
We decided to start with the main attraction, the Natural Bridge, so we set out in that direction. Or so we thought. A sign at the trail head mentioned a trail and a left, so we headed up the trail from the parking lot and took our first left. After all, the Natural Bridge State Park map only includes two trails (Indian Moccasin Nature Trail and Whitetail Hiking Trail), so there can't be that many lefts. This left however was not the correct left and resulted in us looping back towards the highway. Thankfully in this case getting "lost" just meant retracing our steps back up the hill for roughly an 1/8 of a mile. And since the Indian Moccasin Nature Trail is only roughly a mile long anyway, the extra walking was welcomed.
When we made it past that first intersection that lead us astray, we realized there was a trail map further up the trail, if you took the right. Unfortunately, the location of the trail map comes after you have to make a decision of which way to go.
Finally headed in the right direction, we made it to the natural bridge and stopped to take some photos. Right underneath the bridge is a rock shelter that was used by native people when the glacier passed through this area 11,000 years ago. Crazy!
We continued on the Indian Moccasin Nature Trail to the scenic outlook point, which included some uphill trekking on semi icy trails. The trail dead-ends at the scenic outlook, so after taking in the view for awhile, we came back down and followed a path in the snow around to the back of the Natural Bridge. I'm not sure if this is a legitimate trail, as the map isn't that detailed. In the winter, you can see through the bridge to the other side because the view isn't obscured by the trees, but I imagine this would not be the case in the summer.
The Indian Moccasin Nature Trail brought us back around to the parking lot, and we decided to skip the trail on the other side of the highway in favor of heading to Mirror Lake State Park to check out Fern Dell Gorge.
Want more information about hiking with your dog in Natural Bridge State Park? Preorder your copy of A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks now!
Through the University of Wisconsin Press site.
And if you must, through Amazon.
#NaturalBridgeStatePark #couchpotatotrail #weekendwarriortrail