Danielle St. Louis
Roche-A-Cri State Park
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
This trip marked our first official Wisconsin State Park visit as research for my forthcoming book, and Roche-A-Cri was a great way to kick things off! The beginning of March is an awkward time in Wisconsin; it's not quite winter yet not quite spring, which can make finding trails to hike with a dog a little complicated. Are the trails skiable? If so, no dogs allowed. BUT, if the current conditions indicate people have been hiking, then we're going for it.
The main entrance at Roche-A-Cri is closed during the winter, but the DNR website gives visitors specific instructions for locating the winter parking lot and trail access point. From there, it was a short walk from the parking lot to the Acorn Trail, which we took clockwise around the park. At times we saw ski tracks in the snow, but the majority of the 3.55 mile loop was slush, and I was glad I packed an extra pair of socks.
When we got to the Mound Trail intersection, we took it over to the Roche-A-Cri Mound. Dogs aren't allowed up the staircase on the mound, so Lucky and I hung out in the parking lot while my friends made the strenuous climb to the top. As we waited, I took pictures and Lucky took a water break. It was very quiet in the park, and we could hear a muted version of my friends' conversation through the trees as they ascended and descended the Mound. It was difficult to tell how far away they really were, and I think they caught both Lucky and I by surprise when they reappeared at the base of the stairs.
Since my friends reported that the climb was in fact a bit strenuous and the view was not the most majestic, I decided to pass on heading up the mound solo. And after all, if my mutt sidekick can't go, then it's not really part of my research. So we got back to the hike at hand by backtracking on Mound Trail to Acorn Trail and then continuing clockwise.
The conditions got slushier as the day went on because the sun was peaking out from behind the clouds intermittently enough to continue the work it started melting the snow. We wound our way through the forest, and made an interesting discovery along the way. We found a tree with some holes in it in strange shapes and at odd heights. I snapped a photo and a good friend later confirmed that the damage to the tree was the work of a pileated woodpecker! Then the Acorn trail brought us to the petroglyphs on the backside of the Roche-A-Cri Mound. Unfortunately, it took us some time to locate the pictographs due to the number of contemporary carvings and markings made on the rock face. From the petroglyphs it was a short walk back out to the parking lot.
We ended up doing a little less than 4 miles of hiking but felt adequately worn out; probably due to the combination of sloshy walking conditions and a fairly stiff wind. Overall, Rocha-A-Cri was a great place to start with our official WI State Park visits.
Want more information about hiking with your dog in Roche-A-Cri 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.
And if you must, through Amazon.