Madison County High Point Trip Report

26 areas (1,260+ ft)

Date: March 14, 2004
Author: Bob Schwab

Andy Martinís book reports 27 areas for Madison County (of the "Bridges of Madison County" fame), but due to one overlap across a quadrant line, there are only 26 unique contours that must be investigated. Most of these areas are clustered right along the western edge of the county line, but road conditions vary greatly and frequently a good road will suddenly turn to a muddy unmaintained (or unplowed) track. In other words, be prepared for anything.

two areas in section 18-74N-29W

From the city of Greenfield, drive 9 miles south and east on Route 25. In the town of Orient, continue driving east on Route G-61 for another 9 miles to the Madison County line. Another 0.2 mile brings you to Applewood Avenue, where you should turn left. You can ask at the farmhouse for permission to walk around the yard or you can park at the intersection of Applewood and 308th Street to hike into the center of the large area. Drive north to the area near the neighborís house (where the road turns to mud). You can further inspect the flat field here and also hike west 0.2 mile to stand on the "sliver" caused by the county line (no elevation gain of significance at the "liner" site).

five areas in section 30-74N-29W

Return to G-61 and continue east 0.8 mile to Bittersweet Avenue. Turn right on Bittersweet and drive south 2 miles to 325th Street. If youíre brave, drive west on this road for 0.8 mile to the intersection with a track named Applewood (high-clearance needed). At this point, you can either drive north or south on Applewood, or park here and hike north and south to visit four contours that are all just east of the Applewood track in the tall grass. This is a nice area to visit when itís not overly wet or muddy. If youíre scared off by the road, then donít approach from here. Instead, continue south on Bittersweet to 330th Street. Turn right and go west 0.8 mile to Applewood (good road south, scary track to north). Park here and simply hike north on Applewood, visiting the areas as you go. There is a fifth area right near this intersection, so be sure to not miss it.

nine areas (including spot elevation 1265) in sections 31/32-74N-29W

From the corner of 330th Street and Applewood, you can walk a short distance south, then go west into the long grass to visit the first two distinct areas. Drive south on Applewood about 0.4 mile to just beyond some buildings, where a large area is in the pasture/grass to your left (east). This one is fairly high, and from it you can see another small spot off to the northeast. About 0.25 mile farther south is another area that sits high in the field above the road and some woods. Drive to the corner and turn left if you dare (otherwise park and hike). This mud track is called Madison-Union Street. After you pass the driveway, things can get slippery. The road cuts across two areas along the south county line. Cross over the first area and note the orange gate. This is the western edge of the second area, which has a couple spots out in the cornfield (both here and in another 0.25 mile) that are visibly higher than the road where spot elevation 1265 is located. There is a field access spot (and parking place) in another 0.2 mile where you can park (if you got this far with your car). In the dry season, this is probably just a rutted, dusty road, but in the spring itís juicy! If the road isnít too bad, continue east to the intersection with Bittersweet (also an under-maintained road here). Turn north 0.1 mile to the crest where another contour straddles the road. Continue north on Bittersweet to the intersection with 330th Street and the "good" road. To visit the final area in this section, turn left and drive west on 330th Street for about 0.4 mile. You will crest over a rise, then watch for field access on your left as you drop down. The gate (posted) provides access to the final area up in the hay pasture to your southeast. After completing these areas, drive north on Bittersweet back to the intersection with Route G-61.

three areas in section 6-74N-29W

From the intersection of Bittersweet and G-61, drive north on Bittersweet for about 2 miles to 282nd Street. Turn left and go about 0.5 mile to Autumn Lane and the farm and yards there. This is a significant contour that extends west to the county line. Drive north, dropping down to 280th Street and turn right. Drive east 0.2 mile to where the road crests. Cross the fence to investigate two contours in the cornfield to the south. The western area is higher and more distinct. Watch out, because they run a lot of cattle in here when theyíre not growing corn. From here, go west to the county line (spot elevation 1262). You can park here and walk southeast into the hay/pasture and bean fields to more fully explore the large east-west contour. There is a gate a short distance east along the road which accesses the hay/pasture land.

two areas in section 31-75N-29W

Drive north on the county line (Adair-Madison Avenue) about 0.5 mile to obvious high ground. Note the buildings are gone to the west, and the corn, hay and bean fields out to the east are large and high. Thereís two areas here, with the dividing line roughly near the gate and telephone pole. (Hay and beans vs. cornfield). Hike east and enjoy the space!

five areas north of 270th Street

Continue north on the county line road to 270th Street. Turn right and drive 1.25 miles east (cross Bittersweet Avenue) to some really old buildings. A large butterfly-shaped contour crosses the road here (beans north, corn south). The bean field seemed a bit higher to me.

Next, return to Bittersweet and drive north about 0.6 mile (just north of 265th Street). Here is another large contour that sits in the bean field on both sides of the road.

Continue north to 260th Street and turn left. Go west about 0.35 mile to a gate and park here. This provides access to the huge contour that spills south and north into sections 19 and 30. Walk south into the bean/corn area and north into the bean field. Use your hand level to pick the places you think should be investigated. You can also access this field from the county line (Adair-Madison Avenue).

After youíve worn yourself out hiking this one, continue west on 260th to the county line road and turn right. Go north 0.75 mile and park near a gate to the west. Hike east along the northern edge of an east-west fence line. This line cuts across a small area and intersects a second larger contour in about 0.5 mile. Hiking in long grass or unplowed land is preferable to hiking in muddy bean fields, so time your visit carefully with an eye toward both access issues and weather conditions.