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KVR (Kickapoo Valley Reserve) Trip

This is a beginning level trip open to any skill level. 

Total distance will be about 16 miles split fairly evenly between two days of hiking.  The first night will be spent at a state park campground with running water and pit toilets.  (The flush toilets and showers will likely be shut down for the season already.)  The second night will be spent on the trail at either a primitive or backcountry site in the KVR with no facilities.  The terrain of the area is that of the driftless region with hills, valleys, bluffs and outcroppings.  The trails seem to be fairly well maintained and will include some noticeable elevation changes.

Here’s a very quick background on the KVR.  In the late 60’s a dam was to be built near LaFarge primarily to control flooding on the Kickapoo River with the added benefit of tourism tied to the newly formed lake.  Through eminent domain the government acquired the land that would hold this new lake.  Construction on the dam started, then the EPA was formed and work on the dam was halted due to environmental concerns never to be restarted.  Everybody was angry at someone!  18 million spent, people forced off their land, land speculators hurt and no flood control.  The land remained under control of the Federal Government until finally transferred to the state at the end of 2000.  There’s much more information here on the KVR website:  

LaFarge Dam Project

RSVP limit will be 10 people to match the limit of a KVR campsite permit.  At Wildcat Mountain we’ll use two sites as non-family camping parties are limited to 6 persons per site.


Friday 25 October 2013

We’ll assemble in Wildcat Mountain State Park at Group Site 1.  There will be no specific meeting time, arrive as your work/travel schedule permits.  this state park is conveniently located immediately north of the KVR.  We’re starting out here because it will be much easier to find, especially for anyone arriving after dark, compared to the poorer marked and nonreservable campsites on the back roads of the KVR.

We can use the comment section to workout our carpools.  The trip from Oshkosh is about 3 hours and just a bit more from Appleton.

Saturday 26 October 2013

The first order of business will be to shuttle vehicles and obtain our permits.  We’ll drop all but our drivers at our start point, the trailhead on Hay Valley Road at Bridge 6/Campsite U.  Then the remaining drivers will head to the KVR Visitor Center to drop the cars, obtain permits and grab a few of their larger printed maps.  Once everything is official we'll pile in one car and head back to the starting point.

I’ve made a list of points and trail intersections.  Indented notes between those points and intersections give the trail used, distance for that segment and mileage for the day to the end of that segment.  It should be fairly easy to follow and match up to the map, were basically heading down (south) the west (left) side of the reserve.  I went through the trouble because I couldn’t find any mileages listed on the maps or online.  I had to resort to some old school measuring which will give us a general idea of our mileage.

Hay Valley Road trailhead at Bridge 6/Campsite U   

     Hay Valley Trail – 1.7mi

Intersection of Hay Valley Trail & Bailout Trail   

     Hay Valley Trail – 2.1mi (3.8mi)

Intersection of Hay Valley Trail & Dutch Hollow Trail   

     Dutch Hollow Trail – 0.8mi (4.5mi)

Intersection of Dutch Hollow Trail & Lisney Road   

     Lisney Road – 0.1mi Road Walk (4.6mi)

Rockton Bar (a.k.a. Kickapoo Yacht Club)  How many times have you been on the trail wishing there was a drink or food stop to quench all your cravings?  Well, in the KVR there is.  We'll stop in for a quick refreshment/snack and bathroom break.

Intersection of ??? Road & Rockton Trail   

     Rockton Trail – 1.3mi (5.9mi)

Intersection of Rockton Trail & Black Hawk Rock Trail   

     Black Hawk Rock Trail – 1.6mi (7.5mi)

Intersection of Black Hawk Rock Trail & Rogers Road   

     Rodgers Road – 0.1mi (7.6mi)

Campsite N   

     Rodgers Road & Bridge 14 Trail – 0.6mi (8.1mi)

Campsite O

I picked sites N and O as an end point for the first day primarily because they are about midway.  We will try for Site N which is more secluded but there is the chance one or both of these sites may be occupied in which case we could select a backcountry site.  There are two main advantages to using an established site.  They both have a flowing well which would be a better source of water than the river.  (They do recommend filtration/treatment.  The water is for horses and is not tested for human consumption.)  The other advantage is a fire ring and the ability to have a fire.


Sunday 27 October 2013

Campsite O on County Road P   

     Ma & Pa Trail – 1.7mi

Water Crossing!!!  There is no bridge over Weister Creek.  This is an easy sandy bottom crossing, not very deep nor fast water.  However, it was a bit of a challenge last year as most of us crossed barefoot.  With the cold temperatures the muddy bank where we emerged from the creek was partially frozen and a bit harsh on the feet.  Then came the challenge of cleaning the mud off and warming the feet back up.  Knowing there is a water crossing some camp or water shoes might be in order this time.

Intersection of Ma & Pa Trail & West Ridge Trail   

     West Ridge Trail – 0.4mi (2.1mi)

Intersection of West Ridge Trail & Hanson Rock Trail 

     Hanson Rock Trail – 1.5mi (3.6mi)

Intersection of Hanson Rock Trail & Hanson Rock Lookout Loop   

     Hanson Rock Lookout Loop – 0.7mi (4.3mi)

Intersection of Hanson Rock Lookout Loop & Hanson Rock Trail   

     Hanson Rock Trail – 0.7mi (5.0mi)

Intersection of Hanson Rock Trail & West Ridge Trail   

     West Ridge Trail – 2.1mi (7.1mi)

Intersection of West Ridge Trail & Corps Road   

     Corps Road – 0.3mi (7.4mi)

Intersection of Corps Road & Old Highway 131 Trail   

     Old Highway 131 Trail – 0.2 (7.6mi)

Intersection of Old Highway 131 Trail & Visitor Center Loop Access Trail   

     Visitor Center Access & Loop Trail – 0.3 (7.9mi)

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center

From the visitors center we’ll head out and collect the car we left at the trailhead.  We'll likely assemble back at the Rockton Bar for a post hike meal.


Average Temperatures

High - 52 F  &  Low - 37 F


General Location/Directions

Wildcat Mountain and the KVR are located in southwestern Wisconsin approximately 20 miles south of Tomah aka the city where I-94 & I-90 split (or come together, depending on your perspective).

Some basic directions...  From Appleton it looks like it would be easiest to head down 41 to Oshkosh and pick up 44 to Ripon.  In Ripon take 23 heading west.  At I-51 continue straight, 23 turns off and the road is now 82.  82 continues all the way to Hillsboro, then take 33 the rest of the way to Wildcat Mt.



Trip fee of $25.00/person will cover:

Group site at Wildcat Mountain State Park for 1 night - $40.00

Reserve America transaction fee for Wildcat Mountain - $9.70

Two KVR campsite permit for 1 night - ($15.00) $30.00

Individual hiking permits for 2 days - ($4.00/day) $8.00/person* 

Meetup fees for 2 nights ($5.00/night) - $10.00

*To make things quicker Saturday morning I'm collecting the fees for hiking through meetup and will then make a single payment for all our hiking and camping fees at the visitor center.  Each individual hiker will be required to fill out and carry a KVR visitor permit and account for their vehicle on it.  The hiking fee covers parking so there is no additional charge there. 

We may also take a collection Friday night to buy some firewood.  Last year we dropped the firewood we didn't use Friday night near site N while shuttling vehicles which may be an option again.

Individuals will be responsible for all their transportation, food and gear related costs.

Wildcat Mountain will require a WI State Park sticker or day pass.



Wildcat Mountain State Park Site - Link

Wildcat Mountain Campground Map - Link

Wildcat Mountain Map - Link - Includes a small map with roads around park area.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Site - Link

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Map - PDF File

Kickapoo Valley Reserve MaP With Route Highlighted - PDF File

2012 KVR Trip - Meetup page & pictures from last year.


As always, feel free to contact me with any questions through the meetup page or directly at [masked]

Join or login to comment.

  • Jason P.

    Thanks for organizing Randall! Great trip with everyone as always!

    October 28, 2013

  • Senthil

    Awesome trip with nice people. Thank you Randall. Missed the water crossing experience but that will be another reason to go back next year..

    October 28, 2013

  • Pete

    As always, Randall did a great job of organizing

    October 28, 2013

  • Michael H.

    A great trip with generous, congenial people and good weather. Many thanks to Randall, the pickle-hating, kilt-wearing Wizard who hosted this trip.

    1 · October 28, 2013

  • Mary

    Another fun trip! Loved the KVR. That part of the state is really beautiful! Thanks to Randall for supplying the Halloween goodies :)

    October 28, 2013

  • Teri G.

    Great trip. Great people. Everything I was hoping for!

    October 27, 2013

  • Nikki

    Was my first time backpacking KVR! Great time, Great people!

    1 · October 27, 2013

  • Matt W.

    Randall, Sorry I've got to cancel. I've been ill the past two weeks. Had some tests done and have an initial diagnosis but waiting on some more lab work. Hope you all have a great weekend. Look forward to seeing everyone on Monday at the social.

    October 24, 2013

    • Jason P.

      Sorry to hear that you can't make it Matt. I hope things start looking up for you soon.

      October 25, 2013

  • Teri G.

    Are dogs allowed? It looks like the KVR and Wildcat Mountain are ok, just wondering about the group. My Golden loves to hike with me...

    October 22, 2013

    • Randall

      As a general rule from an organizers perspective, I'd say it's best to ask first for each trip like you have. With different locations, different trip goals, different organizers, etc., it's best not to assume that it's okay just because the location allows dogs. I have no problem with dogs on most of my trips including this one and we've had some great canine company in the past. The group has been very receptive to pets but not knowing your dog I'd just ask you to be aware that not everyone may see it's behavior as cute or appreciate it's attention and to be respectful of that. Also, pheasant hunting is open in the KVR so it's a possibility we may encounter other dogs.

      October 23, 2013

    • Doug D.

      Small game hunting(rabbit and squirrel) and Bow deer hunting is also going on right now in WI. So I would advise for you to keep your dog on a leash for it's safety if you decide to bring it along.

      October 23, 2013

  • Randall

    What's going on with the formatting on this write up? It keeps adding spaces by itself. More and more empty lines, growing, growing, getting longer, longer, longer... They reduced the available formatting features for the write-up since last years trip. I used the "copy meetup" tool to copy and update last year's trip. Something must not be 100% c o m p a t i b l e .

    September 27, 2013

  • Doug D.

    According to their board meeting notes they have improved the crossing at Weister creek. Hopefully it won't be so muddy for you. If you need any info on the exact mileages of the trails I have done several of the sections you are planning to do with a GPS.

    September 26, 2013

    • Randall

      Good to hear they gave it some attention. I have a pretty good idea of the mileages but I wouldn't turn down any information either. Thanks Doug!

      September 27, 2013

  • Randall

    There's been enough interest and I'm planning to open 10 more spots. I'm corresponding with the KVR to get some clarifications and to make sure we have a plan that complies with their rules,

    September 23, 2013

  • Michael S.

    Oops. I just noticed your follow-up email about the possibility of two groups. I'll kust keep watching this site.

    September 21, 2013

  • Michael S.

    I've been wanting to BP in the KVR. Colors s/b great about that time. Any chance you'll open it up to more hikers?

    September 21, 2013

  • Dennis W

    I'll be leaving from Mequon (north of Milwaukee) and I'm able to drive or ride with anyone who would like to get-together for the ride.

    September 18, 2013

  • Melanie

    *shake fists* I SOOO wish I could go. Have tons of fun :D

    September 15, 2013

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