Week 3 of 52 Week Hike Challenge 1/14/18-1/20/18
I am loving this hike challenge!! The anticipation of this hike was the only thing getting me through work that day. I was very intrigued by the words ice cave as anyone would be and I have never hiked an inch on any Kickapoo Valley Reserve trails.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a gigantic piece of land, 8,569 acres to be exact with a pretty interesting background one that I just recently discovered myself and was quite frankly shocked by it. In the 60’s & 70’s the government came through in their known for “gracious” manner and bought 149 farms from unwilling hard working established families and destroyed those farms along with memories and comfort. Displaced every one of those families for their Flood Control Project. Basically turn La Farge into a 130 acre lake. You could say hostility is still alive today over this because well there obviously is no lake. The project was halted by environmental concerns surrounding a number of endangered species of plants and eventually stopped. You can find more info on this subject thru the KVR website. kvr.state.wi.us
Any who back to the hike. We started this trip at the KVR visitor center located on Highway 131 just a bit before hitting La Farge. The lady there was beyond helpful, super friendly and willing to share everything she knew about this beautiful area. I really wish I would have caught her name. She even took the time to print off their 2018 KVR Trail Challenge which is another interesting challenge of 60 miles consisting of 50 hiking and 10 canoeing in a year. So now we are attempting to crush 2 different hiking challenges!!
The KVR is owned by the state and the Ho-Chunk now and state park passes DO NOT count here. You need to buy either a daily pass for each person at $5 or a family year pass for $35 in which they give you two cards and not assigned to a certain vehicle unlike state park stickers. We will definitely be back with all the trails and activities they offer so went with the family pass.
Now to get to the actually Ice Caves I would suggest stopping at the visitor center for clear directions and a map. Here is my best shot at it. Parking for the first set of ice caves is by the KVR brick maintenance building. Leaving the visitor center go right towards La Farge turn right onto Seelyburg Rd which is about a mile down the road then Corps Road and the building will be at the end. Park and start the hike!!
I highly recommend trekking poles and micro spikes are not a bad idea either. Trail leading up to the ice cave turn off is a wide snowmobile trail named West Ridge Trail. As shown in picture. Appreciate the easiness of this. It will take you up a small hill, I suggest turning around for the view. La Farge is small but the rolling hill terrain here is just beautiful! Keep following the snowmobile trail until you see a sign pointing down the hill. The sign is placed after the entrance so don’t get confused. This is were things got quite interesting. The drop into the valley is extreme and needs caution. Its basically what seems a straight shot down to the bottom of hill. We did not have micro spikes and they sure would have come in handy as both of us ended up on our asses. Jason said his was deliberate but its still up for debate lol. Phoenix was just fine cuddled up in the Kelty. I chose to just slide down and not make a fool of myself as there was a group of 5 at the bottom with all eyes on us after Jason going down. They did however cheer us on!! I love meeting people out hiking most are humble and just love nature. They continued on their way and we made our way to the first cave. The trails at the bottom are still on a hill side and need caution as most parts were ice covered and extremely slick.
The first cave to the left of trail was not what we were hoping for but was still pretty cool. The cave itself was pretty small but the huge icicles hanging there were impressive. We set the go pro up for a quick family picture in front of this one. Video for that will be up on my Youtube page soon.
We made our way to the second one very cautiously. This one was bigger and had room to move so we let Phoenix out to play for a bit. It even had an ice door as we were calling it.
On our way to the third and finally one we passed by this small but picture worthy one.
The last cave was very quite interesting and looked as if most people didn’t make it back this far and decided to go back up the hill. The trail leading to bottom of hill is marked with orange tape and the ice cave trails are marked with blue tape on the trees. You will see what I mean if you go. This ice cave was the bluest of them all and had black specs covering it on the outer side. Turns out these were snow fleas. I never knew they existed either. Learning a lot on this trip. They covered this entire sheet of ice. The ice on the cave floor was also the smoothest, slickest ice I have ever seen and did not even attempt to walk on it. The cave itself was decent size and had remnants of a fire.
I do have to say that I’m very impressed by how well kept and clean these trails are. All other trails I have been have some sort of litter regardless of snow cover.
My family and I already plan on going back to this area. They do have a second set of caves more north on the property the lovely lady at visitor center said were the best to check out. We took way more time on these trails that we did not make it there before dark.
I thank you for your interest and hope someone is inspired to start the 52 week Hike Challenge or even just got for a winter hike.
To keep up on all of our adventure as we go for more than one hike a week like Wandering Nirvana on Facebook.
I’m also currently in the process of catching up on editing videos that will be available on YouTube page just look for Wandering Nirvana and subscribe!!
~Life Begins at the End of you Comfort Zone~