Lafayette County Highpoint Trip Report

Platte Mounds (1,440+ ft)

Date: January 13, 2007
Author: John Hasch

unsuccessful completion

While driving on US Highway 151 northeast of Platteville, I noticed a large letter "M" on a mountainside north of the road. It was obviously large because the mound was very far away. A short time later, I decided to get off at the next exit that was for the city of Belmont. I stopped to get some gas and I asked about the "M". I was told the mound was actually a mere 5 minutes away, and the attendant gave me directions. He told me itís really spectacular because once a year, the letter is set on fire. I decided to take this short detour since I was traveling on a peaking-bagging trip anyway.

At the mountain, I parked in a small lot at the base of the "M". There were several stairs that climbed beside the letter. I saw a plaque that described this as the "largest letter in the world". The letter was designed and put in place by a work team led by the engineering department of the nearby University of Wisconsin at Platteville. The letter was a tribute to the MINING that plays such a large role in the local area economy.

The steps alongside the letter climbed to a couple different viewing platforms. Each step was marked by a plaque that referred to the step number and the person or group that had sponsored the step. I noted that about 30 of the 266 steps to the top were still available. I climbed the steps and ascended a brief height more to reach the top of the mound. A radio tower was at the summit and it was fenced in. Since the high ground appeared to be inside the fence, I walked around the perimeter. I stopped to take an altimeter reading on the north side that appeared to be on the same level as the inside.

The view from the top was clear and interesting. Although this area of Wisconsin has numerous rolling hills, this mound was clearly the highest point for miles around. The only exception was Belmont Mound to the east about 7 miles away. Like the hill I was on, Belmont Mound stood out compared to the surrounding region. I took several pictures including the dairy farm to the southwest. Cows there were mooing constantly while I was on the mound.

I learned after the trip that the mound I was on had an elevation of about 1430 feet per the topo maps. I also found that I had not visited the real summit. The mound was actually adjoined by another mound immediately north of where I stood, and its peak area was 1,440 feet. Looking back, I am going to claim a "bagging" since I was only 10 feet lower and did not realize the other area existed.

My calculations showed a trip of about 400 steps from the car to the summit with a rise of about 182 feet. The car's elevation was extrapolated to be 1,248 feet.