High Cliff State Park

Woke up Saturday morning and decided to take a drive.  My main goal was to scout land for the upcoming deer season in the Appleton/Green Bay area.  High Cliff State Park was near enough for my overnight base camp allowing me to also check off another WI state park.  I hastily threw together a backpack and hit the road with no knowledge on what I would find except that it would be better than sitting at home!

Lime Kiln Trail

After booking a campsite and finding the previous tenants still hadn’t checked out, I decided on the most popular hike to start.  The park attendant pointed me to the Lime Kiln Trail which is a short 1.7 mile loop passing — you guessed it — the crumbling remnants of the old lime kiln and furnaces.  The land was purchased from a defunct cement company, and evidence of the mining and lime kilns are still part of the features.  I was greeted by huge turkey vultures perched high in the trees at the parking lot but they decided not to eat me today.  At the start of the forest loop was a “caution” sign that the trail can be hazardous in some areas/conditions.

Just past the ruins the trail is well groomed and very easy.  Skies were dreary and overcast and winds were non-existent but temperatures were pleasant around 70°F.  The white haze of the clouds above contrasted brightly against the thick tree canopy.

The lower part of the trail wound tightly against the banks of Lake Winnebago – only ten feet away in some spots.  At the far end, the trail climbs towards a large limestone shelf.  Near the top stood a large formation that split from the main cliff and resembled what I thought looked like Snoopy wearing his “Flying Ace” costume from a distance.  Behind the dog/rock was stairs leading to the family campground area that are easy to miss if you stuck to the “regular” trail.  This section was very steeply sloped – maybe that yellow sign was right about danger after rain?

The remainder of the trail gave nearly the same view but in reverse – beautiful, but not much worthy of more photos.  I slowly plodded along enjoying the tranquility, and finally found some wildflowers and mushrooms to keep me occupied.  This has become a new side-quest of mine and I thank the game Skyrim for making me curious about these things.  Identifying the different species is quite interesting but difficult at times for a novice like me.

Arriving back at the parking lot I was greeted with rain sprinkles.  Luckily I had cell service and the radar gave bad news – showers for the rest of the day.  Sadly this meant an end to hiking trails, but was just fine to drive a bit farther north and scout some public hunting lands.  No photos of that journey yet – to be covered in future posts.

Observation Tower and Red Bird Statue

Overnight the rain continued and followed through the morning.  This time it included thunder & lightning so I quickly used a break in the rain to make my last stops.  In the northeast trail area was a small observation tower that on clear days is said to give views across Lake Winnebago and directly of Lambeau Field some 20 miles to the north.  No such luck today, but still a cool sight of the surrounding areas.

Only about a hundred yards away was a tribute statue of Red Bird who was leader of the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) tribe.  A quick read of the history tells they fought against the US and lead mining encroachment, after which he surrendered to avoid a full-blown war.  In another area of the park there is a trail with Indian/Native American effigy mounds that I missed due to the weather – maybe next time.

Hiking Data

Only recorded hike was for the Lime Kiln Trail.  Fairly short and I took my sweet time, but the section near the cliff face could be slippery with rain.  The remaining trails I missed are only slightly longer and could easily be done in a day if planned well.  Horse trails were busy and I believe off-limits to hikers.

Lat = 44.163105 , Long = -88.2909698 -- Show at Google Maps

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