Rock County High Point Trip Report

Magnolia Bluff (1,050+ ft)

Date: December 29, 2000
Author: John Mitchler

In southern Wisconsin west of Janesville, this sweet peak is in a county park and is suitable for hikers, horses, and cross-country skiers. I did it on snowshoes because the entrance road is gated in the winter and the snow was deep.

From south Madison, take Exit 261 off US12 onto US14 and proceed south for 19 miles to Evansville. At this town's north edge, turn off US14 to the right (south) onto WI 213. Go south 3.3 miles and turn right (west) on WI 59. After traveling 3.0 miles through farmland on WI 59, turn left (south) on North Croak Road. After 0.5 miles, turn left (east) into Magnolia Bluff County Park. There is parking and rest rooms near this entrance, but you can drive up to the parking lot on the top of the bluff. As the road reaches the bluff top, it turns sharply to the left (south) and there you can see a trailhead on the right (north). If you look at the topo, the county park line follows the north edge of Section 17 (which is the south edge of Section 8), with the highest land being in corn and the actual bluff being wooded county land. Although tricky to the naked eye, hand-leveling easily proves that the highest point is on the park boundary (a poor fence line at the wood's edge) and not in the farm field. Hand leveling also confirms that the second area off to the east is lower, but since this is such a down right pleasant place, it is worth it to your soul to stroll the half mile to the east and visit it.

On this cohp, I performed a nifty trick which I did not describe in my write-up for the web site. On the rise that is the highest point (on the section line of sw sw section 8), I walked to the east downhill just enough so that my eyes were equa-elevation with the highpoint top. I could determine this by hand- leveling to the hilltop, although it took some walking up and down hill until my eyes were exactly the height of the hilltop. I then turned to the east and sighted over to distant hilltop which was the second HP area. It was much lower than my level. I could have easily laid down prone on the highpoint and sighted over to the distant hill, but sometimes the snow or mud or thorns might make this uncomfortable.

Sighting to distant (2,000') hilltops is possible because the hills were snow covered and stood out dramatically against the leaf-bare trees. I doubt that the curve of the hill could be discerned at other times of the year when vegetable matter makes the horizon fuzzy.

If you look at the topo, the county park land encompasses the entrance road, the bluffs in southeast section 7, and the bluff arm in sw sw sec. 8. This 120 acre park hosts the only natural stand of white birch in the county due to a micro-climate on the north bluffs. The park is open 5am - 10pm. Call 608-757-5450. One final note about this cohp - a farm house (new?) sits on the bluff arm that extends south of the park's entrance road.