Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer solstice visit to Stephens Falls in Governor Dodge State Park

Stephens Falls 1
Governor Dodge is one of Wisconsin's largest state parks (5,270 acres), and the only big one in the Driftless Area, the geologically interesting southwestern part of the state untouched by the glaciers. Instead of being ground down by the glaciers, the area's hills and valleys have been sculpted by wind and water erosion -- doing for hundreds of millions of years what Stephens Falls is doing today.

Stephens Falls 3We visited Stephens Falls yesterday on our Summer Solstice/Father's Day drive. It's an easily accessible little jewel, nestled into a gorge that forms a natural amphitheater. It's cool and moist down there, and the cliff walls are home to a variety of ferns and other plants that like the micro-climate. The last time I saw Stephens Falls was during a drought, and the falls had been reduced to a little dribble. But there's plenty of water now, what with the recent rains this year and last. The falls are just a 1/2-mile walk from the road, and a rock staircase is built into the cliff. For those who can't climb down, there's a scenic overlook.

See complete Flickr set of images here.


froggyprager said...

great photos

how long/ hard of a hike is it to get to the falls? I am wondering if my kids could do it.

Madison Guy said...

It looks more wild and remote than it is. Your kids could definitely do it and would love it -- the 1/2-mile reference is for a round trip, and that's generous. The waterfall isn't wheelchair accessible, but for anyone else, the stairs are easy. Turn left after going through the park entrance and it's a little less than a mile down the road on the right. (You can also get there from some of the other, more challenging hiking trails in the park, but with kids you'd want to walk in directly from the road.)

froggyprager said...

thanks! we will check it out