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Natural Bridge State Park Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.8 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This loop circles Natural Bridge State Park.


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Map Key

2.6

Miles

4.2

KM

Loop

1,164' 355 m

High

840' 256 m

Low

566' 172 m

Up

566' 172 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

26%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Unknown

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Austin Lynch

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#3617

Overall
  3.8 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#18

in Wisconsin

#3,617

Overall
24 Views Last Month
2,012 Since Sep 7, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

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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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Check-Ins

Oct 20, 2019
Nathan Chadderdon
2.6mi
Sep 7, 2019
Mark Andersen
Sep 7, 2019
Erin Andersen
Partial loop to the natural bridge 1.1mi — 0h 44m
Aug 22, 2019
Judy Benish
Mar 16, 2019
Ash Lyke
Incredibly gorgeous, particularly in the winter months. Less incline on the trail closer to the bridge, but very hilly on the portion across the road 2.5mi
Jun 30, 2017
Austin Lynch