Near Millford in Black River State Forest, Wisconsinby pitts Three days of hiking in the Black River State Forest per the "Wildcat Mound" hike documented in Eric Hansen's wonderful book "Hiking Wisconsin".
Trailhead is the Smrekar trails in the Black River State Forest. The hike progresses to the Wildcat Trails and then "off trail" to a sandy road that leads to a wildlife refuge. This is the other 1/2 of the hike. You pass the Weber Flowage and the Dike 17 flowage. The area is swarming with wildlife. The end of the hike is an observation tower where you can see the hills you hiked in.
The trails are cross-country ski trails, groomed for such in the winter. I saw only two guys on bikes (non motorized) during my time on the trail. Lots of wildlife (porcupine, deer, squirrels, etc) and even heard a wolf the first night.
There is little water on the ski trails, so plan to pack lots in. There are water pumps at the parking lots. Also, one can get water in the flowage itself but be sure to filter/purify it. Some articles said that water was scarce on the ski trails, but I am telling you there is NO WATER other than the pumps at the parking lots.
A permit is required but is free and I was told I had to apply IN PERSON. They took down my auto license number, drivers license number, places I would be camping, and the number in my party (one!) Because of a burn ban in place they wrote "NO FIRES" in big letters on the top of the permit and I was told to keep the permit on my person for the duration of the hike.
You also need a permit to park (free as well) which they give you when you get the permit to hike on the trails. You leave this in your windshield. I have been told recently that if you call they will give you the permits via FAX, but they totally refused to do this for me when I tried this summer. I tried.
If you must apply in person, as I had to do, I recommend applying at Castle Mound campground 10+ miles north on 94 near Black River Falls. There was nobody at the trailhead or Pigeon River Campground when I was there.
Great hike Eric! Thanks! Number Pictures:50 Date Created: 7/28/05