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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gibraltar Rock - Ice Age Trail - Lodi WI

Gibraltar Rock Ice Age Trail
So excited to find this growing along the trail: Indian pipe plant

On top of Gibraltar Rock

August 16, 2014

On a very hot and humid day, M and I decided to hike the Gibraltar Rock section of the Ice Age Trail. The 3 mile out and back hike was short but challenging. From the parking lot, the trail went south and climbed along the back end of Gibraltar bluff on a very well maintained and new trail. Through the woods, the trail abruptly led us up a rocky, vegetation-filled wall. Though this section was short but quite steep, there was no real need to scramble. It took us no more than a minute or two to get to the top of the bluff.

Up on top, the trail was flat and well maintained. There was a fork in the road and we took the left fork which followed the yellow blazed Ice Age Trail. The right fork was asphalted and stayed in the middle of the bluff top while the left fork snaked along the edge of Gibraltar Rock, leading us to lookouts with 200+ ft drops! The views of the farmland and glaciated rolling hills starkly contrasting with the sandstone bluff  was stunning and awe-inspiring. We took some time to sit and watch a turkey vulture soar a few feet from us. The wind picked up and kept us from venturing too far to the edge lest acrophobia got the best of us.  

After taking in the views, we continued on the trail to the end of the bluff. It then switchbacked and continued down the northwest side to the trail terminus. This section descended through woods and open prairies full of wild flowers and sumac. Once we reached the end, we turned around and retraced our steps to the trailhead, meaning we had to climb the bluff all over again. This trail, though short, caught us by surprise. The elevation change, the remarkable views, and, most importantly, the lack of crowds made Gibraltar Rock our favorite hike in all of WI. 

We started the hike at the green X and hiked to the red dot then went back to X for a 3 mile out and back hike.

Start of the hike

Nicely maintained trail, gradually ascending

Trails were clean and well maintained

Keep following the yellow blazes for the Ice Age Trail

Woods changed to conifers in this section. Trail is still climbing up

Ice Age Trail at Gibraltar Rock

This section (about 0.5 miles in) had more vegetation and was getting steeper

The "rocky wall" section that went right up. The trail is at the bottom middle of the picture. It swings right then continues up. This was about halfway up.

Up on top of the bluff 

Views directly left of us from the trail. Heavily vegetation growth and a lone turkey vulture.

Fork in trail. Left is Ice Age Trail, right leads to asphalt trail

One of the lookouts along the Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Cautiously looking over the edge. There was nothing to break a fall, just a 200 ft drop to the bottom.

From one of the lookouts, you get the perfect view of the bluff and the contrasting hills/farmland

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Another look out along Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Geological survey marker on Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Wind picked up and I was too afraid to go closer to the edge

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Towards the end of the bluff, starting to descend on Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Drop off was about 20-30 ft, then there was a little flat outcrop to break a potential fall 

Descending Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Descending Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

The view to our left as we descended from the bluff. 

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Section of woods opening up to the first prairie on Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Beautiful prairie with views of the rolling hills (Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment)

Nicely maintained trail heading northwest to the terminus of Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Prairie then back into woods on Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Less dense, less mature woods alongside prairie on Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Closer to the end

Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Sign posted about the end of the maintained Ice Age Trail Gibraltar Rock segment

Ice Age National Scenic Trail informational booth. The end of the hike. We then retraced our steps back to the beginning.