Natural Bridge State Park

Sauk City, Wisconsin

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A magnificent sandstone arch, the largest in the state, is the star of the show, typically overshadowing a nice challenging hike across a neighboring bluff. Educational signage makes this a minicourse in medicinal plants. This quiet, out-of-the-way state park draws visitors to see its 35-foot-high sandstone arch, but most people don’t realize that between 9000 and 8000 B.C., this place was already occupied, making it one of the oldest confirmed settlements in northeastern North America. Archaeologists found artifacts and animal remains—15 different types of mollusks and 50 vertebrates, ranging from passenger pigeon to mountain lion—in and around a rock shelter at the base of the arch. Tribes such as the Fox and the Sauk also occupied the area prior to the arrival of white settlers, but even they are relatively late arrivals.

Natural Bridge State Park Professional Review and Guide

"A magnificent sandstone arch, the largest in the state, is the star of the show, typically overshadowing a nice challenging hike across a neighboring bluff. Educational signage makes this a minicourse in medicinal plants.

This quiet, out-of-the-way state park draws visitors to see its 35-foot-high sandstone arch, but most people don’t realize that between 9000 and 8000 B.C., this place was already occupied, making it one of the oldest confirmed settlements in northeastern North America. Archaeologists found artifacts and animal remains—15 different types of mollusks and 50 vertebrates, ranging from passenger pigeon to mountain lion—in and around a rock shelter at the base of the arch. Tribes such as the Fox and the Sauk also occupied the area prior to the arrival of white settlers, but even they are relatively late arrivals."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Sauk City
Distance: 2.4
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 1–1.5 hours
Season: 6 a.m.–11 p.m. year-round
Trailhead Elevation: 860 feet
Top Elevation: feet
Local Contacts: dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/naturalbridge, 608-356-8301
Local Maps: USGS Blackhawk; posted on the trail at trail junctures but not at the trailhead; nearby Devil’s Lake State Park also has the map in their own park brochure.
Driving Directions: Directions to Natural Bridge State Park

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May 2018