It FINALLY was starting to feel like spring in Wisconsin and I couldn’t wait to get out and hike. I was on a mission to find some spring wildflowers.
The Ice Age Trail Blue Spring Lake segment started off with a connector trail. I typically always tell folks to look for the yellow blazes, but first we had to follow the blue blazes to get to the Ice Age Trail. It was very well marked and easy to navigate.
Smell the Pines
We turned a corner and BAM, a pine forest right in front of us. I love their smell. I love their soft needles on the ground below. I love that they are always green. During winter, early spring and late fall they are always a welcome site with a bit of green on the trail.
After the pines we hit a seemingly “dead” forest. This time of year, everything is a shade of brown. So, I focus on the shapes I see. I look at a tree whose branches continue to split and split into the smallest branch high above. The cut down tree that has started to decompose and its center is now carved out and cracked in the side. Fungus grows on a tree and makes tiny shelves on the bark. As I walk and look up at the sun, it plays peek-a-boo with the tree branches making them a shadowy black.
All of sudden we spotted a few folks on horses! They were great and let the others know we were coming. We held Maxie back as we got closer to the horse trail. She saw a horse once and got really scared and we certainly didn’t want her to bark and scare the horses either. Sure enough, it was the KMSF-SU Horseriders’ Camp. There were picnic tables and even bathrooms! We took a quick break, but wanted to continue further down the trail and decided this would be the perfect lunch spot.
Ups and Downs
This trail reminded me a bit of the Holy Hill segment near the church. There were a decent amount of ups and downs and a couple awesome ridges. We even came across a bench with a view of the prairie below. Once again, I tried to photograph the hills against each other and it just doesn’t show up, so you will just have to trust me!
The Way Back
Maybe it was the warmer weather, the awesome trail conditions (no mud) or the fact that we could just tell the trail looked so inviting ahead, but neither one of us wanted to turn around. But we were coming up on 4 miles for 1 way and knew Maxie would probably be starting to feel hot. We had lunch at the Horseriders’ Camp and saw several hawks above swooping down, at one point there were five of them!
The Forest Woke Up
You guys have no idea how excited I was to see spring flowers. These little guys are called Hepatica of Liverwort and are only about an inch off the ground. They must have “woken up” (maybe because of the sun?) because they were not in bloom on our way out but were in several places now. Then we passed a few ponds and heard the frogs chirping so loud!
Time for a Beer
We stopped for a pint at Third Space Brewing on the way back through Milwaukee. They have a HUGE beer garden so we enjoyed a bit more time in the sun. I got the Light It Up Lager and Kurt had Upward Spiral IPA. A beer just tastes SO good after a hike!
And that my friends is today’s Tail from the Trail.
Trail: Mix of dirt and rock
Trail type: Out and Back
Parking: WI Parks sticker required
Emma Carlin Trail Head -Parking Lot for Stony Ridge-Google Map
Bathroom facilities: Yes (not sure of availability during winter months)
Dog Friendly: Yes, must be leashed at all times. BYOB Bring Your Own (Poop) Bag! I did not see any bag dispenser. Please carry out your dog’s poop!
This dog friendly beer garden is an awesome spot to go after a hike.
GOOGLE MAP THIRD SPACE LOCATION
Great recap! This hike just continued to get better and better with each step … and absolutely, a cold pint after a super hike is a damn good day by my standards!