Sugar Maple Nature Trail - Part 7 in a Series

A self guided nature trail provides informational signs identifying various plants and giving ecological principles. A short side trail leads to Pictured Rock Cave which displays a small waterfall tumbling over a limestone outcropping (1.5 mile loop).*
*Previous description from: Wyalusing State Park Visitor Newspaper, 2010
Following is an unofficial trail description.

Trail Rating Guide:
1=walking on a level paved road.
10=Walking on an unmarked trail up a bluff, covered with leaves, poison ivy, tree roots and boulders the size of a house.


Distance: 1.5 mile loop
Time: 1.5-2.0 hours
Difficulty: 3-3.5 Some gradual and long slopes. Difficulty level for Spur trail to Picture Rock Cave 6-6.5
Parking: Wyalusing State Park boat landing or in the small parking lot along the road just west of the Homestead Picnic Shelter
Bathrooms: Homestead Picnic Shelter and the boat landing.

Sugar Maple Nature Trail is a self-guided nature trail with informational signs identifying various plants and explaining ecological principles. A short side trail leads to Pictured Rock Cave with a small waterfall tumbling over a limestone outcropping.

If parking at the boat landing, the trail head is reached by crossing the railroad tracks and up Long Valley Road. Look for the trail sign on the east side of the road.

If parking west of the Homestead Picnic Shelter, the trail is accessed a few feet south of the parking lot.

Trail hi-lites: cooling off in the Picture Rock Cave grotto, under the water fall; walking above the waterfall; walking along an old forest road.

During a hot July or August day, this is also a marvelous place to sit and relax in the cool surroundings. Very few, if any, mosquitoes are found in Picture Rock Cave.

Description:
This is the first trail to be redone by the Wisconsin trail crew, in 2009. A new trail head was laid out for the east terminus. The trail around the top of Picture Rock Cave is new.

Homestead Picnic Area and Homestead Campground is named for the Glenn family. This area had been their home. Paul Kosir, in his book, Wyalusing History, The Park, the People, the Land, offers several pages about Robert Glenn, his family and his vision.The book may be purchased at the Park Visitor Center.

The trail head is located just west of the parking lot on Cathedral Tree Drive near Homestead Picnic Shelter. The trail starts out heading south from the small parking lot for about 100 feet. This part of the trail is wide and an easy walk passing through a hardwood forest. The trail takes a sharp turn west and follows an old road bed down a gently sloping hill. The difficulty level is 1.5-2.

Continue following an old forest road.

The trail sign, about 500 feet from the trail head, marks the beginning of the loop. If the trail is followed down the forest road, west, it will, eventually, come to the boat landing.


Instead of following the  old forest road down hill, turn north, crossing a wooden bridge. This bridge is the only wooden foot bridge left in Wyalusing State Park after the rain storm of 2008. The bridge was constructed by the Wisconsin Progress Works. (Lookout for the troll rumored to be living under the bridge!)

Just over the bridge, the difficulty level rises 3.5-4.0. There are a series of widely spaced steps. Continue following the steps, about 200 feet, until coming to a wooden rail fence. The trail makes a Y. Take the short trail west, into Picture Rock Cave.


The short trail leading to Picture Rock Cave is another of Wyalusing Park's oldest trails. The trail is very narrow and has rock steps erratically spaced. At this point, the difficulty is 6-6.5. The walk is a very short one and well worth the extra effort.

The water fall, albeit a small amount of water at times, falls almost 50 feet. The walker can go under the falls as well as walk in back of it. Paul Kosir's book describes how this became known as Picture Rock Cave.

Leave Picture Rock Cave retracing the side trail. Continue along the wooden fence, north for about 50 feet. Just as the trail makes a quick turn west, it passes the origin of the stream that creates the water fall. Look carefully at the perfectly round holes created when water swirls small pebbles along the sand stone water bed just as it falls over the ledge. A picturesque grotto is formed upstream.


Continue a very short distance, walking over flat stones. These stones were hand carried by the Wisconsin trail crew and placed so that the walker would not have to walk in a spring fed stream.

Prior to 2009, very few people explored this part of the park. Look to the south(left). You are looking into Picture Rock Cave! A miraculous view. This is only one of two views that look down into a cave. The other one is Big Sand Cave.

The wide trail continues following the contour of the hill side. The trail is cut into the side of the hill for easier walking. The difficulty level is 2.5-3 and gently slopes downhill. Eventually, the trail takes a sharp switch-back turn south and parallels Long Valley Road. The trail is above the road.


The trail will eventually meet Long Valley Road. At this point, the walker can walk along the road, and across the tracks. Take a walk out on the fishing pier. Visit with the people fishing. Most of them enjoy telling about the latest one that got away.

The canoes are available for rent at the concession stand located at Wisconsin Ridge. Wyalusing State Park is one of a few Wisconsin State Parks that have a marked canoe trail. The canoe trail is a 5.9 mile loop.

There are bathrooms located close to the railroad tracks.

Return to Sugar Maple Nature Trail by recrossing the railroad tracks. Walk up Long Valley Road to the trail sign.

The return trail is along an old forest road. It is very wide. The difficulty level is 2.5-3.5. The trail tread is a mixture of sand and dirt. A few places have rocks covering the trail surface. During wet periods, a couple of short sections have springs.

The trail is a gradual ascent back to the Homestead Parking Lot. Look into the valley below. In addition, stop and take a look over your shoulder. You may be able to see the Mississippi River.

We hope that you have enjoyed your time with us. Wyalusing State Park has so much to offer.


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