Camping Wildcat Mountain State Park in West Wisconsin
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Jim: Wildcat is a property of about 3800 acres that is primarily used for hiking and horseback riding. We have a separate horse trail campground. Most of the folks who come and camp here will either hike or they’ll canoe on the Kickapoo River that flows through the Park, or if they have their own horses, they camp in a separate horse trail campground.
Camp Wisconsin: Okay. And what other types of camping do you have then? Do you have tent and RV as well?
Jim: We have tent and RV camping. We also have cart-in camping. It’s a little more rustic, where folks cart their gear to a site anywhere from 100 to 1000 feet from the road, and they have a separate parking area. We do not have any electrical or water hook-ups, but we do have flush toilets and a shower building.
Camp Wisconsin: Okay. And in addition to the horseback riding and hiking, what are some of the other activities that the guests enjoy there?
Jim: Most of the folks that come here will do that, and then also canoeing on the Kickapoo River. As I mentioned, the river flows through. Some folks bring their own canoes and kayaks, but there are also rentals and liveries in the community of Ontario that will shuttle and rent boats for folks as well. The other activity that’s nearby – some ten miles distance – is the midpoint of State Trail, which is a converted railroad grade with tunnels. So, many of the folks that come here will also go biking at least one of the days that they’re visiting our Park.
Camp Wisconsin: Okay, cool. Yeah, I would recommend the shuttling canoe trip to anyone who hasn’t done that. I’ve done that quite a few times and it’s so handy. You just throw your gear in a van or a trailer, and they can shoot you up river and it’s really pretty easy to do, and it’s just great once you’re out there,
Jim: Yeah, they accommodate visitors very well. And then the river is a very easy, winding, scenic river. Family friendly.
Camp Wisconsin: Nice. Now, if I were staying there for a couple days or maybe a little bit longer and I wanted to venture outside of the Park, what are some of your favorite attractions around that area?
Jim: Sure. Well, as I mentioned, the bike trails that are some distance from the Park. There’s a large Amish community in the area, and folks can visit them any day but Sunday. Also, to the South of us is another large public land area called the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. It’s an additional 8,500 acres that is open for silence fort-type recreation as well, further down the Kickapoo Valley, from Wildcat Mountain.
Camp Wisconsin: Oh, okay. You mentioned visiting the Amish community. Have you done that before, Jim?
Jim: I’m sorry.
Camp Wisconsin: Have you visited the Amish community before?
Jim: Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah, they sell baked goods. They sell furniture. They sell a variety of things that the public can go in and purchase and look at.
Camp Wisconsin: Okay. I’m curious about that. I’ve always been curious about that lifestyle. Do they talk a bit about the community and kind of how things work and their philosophy as well?
Jim: Well, typically they’re fairly quiet about that, but certainly some will talk about that too. And mostly they’re interested in you enjoying the kinds of goods; their services that they provide from their home or farm.
Camp Wisconsin: Cool. Two more questions for you, Jim. If you could spend just one hour at Wildcat Mountain State Park, how would you spend your time there?
Jim: Well, a couple things come to mind. One is: if you go to the upper picnic area in the park, there’s just a short 100-yard walk from the parking area to a high bluff observation point that looks out over the Kickapoo River Valley. So, it’s a nice view of the valley and a good distance view. That would be a short one. The other is a short trail called The Ice Cave Trail. It’s about a quarter-mile in length. Fairly flat. Runs back into sort of a protected bluff rather than a cave, but the ice builds up all winter long into large icicle, and that lasts into the spring quite a way, so folks enjoy going and seeing that.
Camp Wisconsin: Okay, cool. And last question: if you could spend just one night at Wildcat Mountain State Park in Wisconsin, which specific campsite would you choose, Jim, and why?
Jim: Well, I like Site 1. It’s off the main loop of the road that goes through. Not much traffic passes, and it’s a little bit secluded from some of the others, but all the sites are fairly decent. Some will accommodate tents. Some will accommodate larger pop-up campers or travel trailers.
Camp Wisconsin: All right, sounds good. Well, Jim, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to give us more information about the surrounding area there and to tell us more about Wildcat Mountain State Park in Wisconsin.
Jim: Very good. I appreciate talking with you.