Friday, November 4, 2016

Rustic Roads and Hikes through the Kettle Moraine

Wisconsin has a network of scenic roadways called Rustic Roads.  You can read more about them at the Department of Transportation website, but here's an excerpt which describes the program briefly.

The Rustic Roads system in Wisconsin was created by the 1973 State Legislature in an effort to preserve what remains of Wisconsin’s scenic, lightly traveled country roads for the leisurely enjoyment of bikers, hikers and motorists.
To qualify for the Rustic Roads program, a roadway must have outstanding natural features along its borders. These might include rugged terrain, native vegetation and wildlife, or open areas with agricultural vistas that make the road unique. The road should be a lightly traveled, local access road. It should not be scheduled for major improvements which would change its rustic characteristics. A Rustic Road may be a dirt, gravel or paved road. It should be at least two miles long with a maximum speed limit of 45 mph.

These are most beautiful in spring and fall. Even though 'peak color' is past, you can still enjoy a drive and do some hiking where there are rustic roads.  There is still plenty of color, though it won't last long. We don't have any rustic roads in Milwaukee county, but there are some in the surrounding counties.  Today I took a drive on the rustic roads surrounding Holy Hill, shown above, in Washington County.  I didn't make it to the Basilica while the tower was still open. It closed November 1 and will reopen in spring. I wish it had been extended just a few more days, as often there can be beautiful views even past peak. This morning the fields were still full of fog, making for some interesting photos. You never know what you'll find on these rural roads, but since you are driving slower, you may notice some beautiful or odd things.  There are other winding, hilly roadways in the area too, with views of the treetops. Get lost and see what you'll find.

At the Fox & Hounds. They serve lunch on weekends and dinner during the week.

Loved this gorgeous dragon gate
When you're ready for some hiking, check out a nearby beautiful county park, Glacier Hills.  This is accessible from Highway 167/Holy Hill Road. You can download a trail map at the website link. They have trails from 1/2 mile to 2 1/2 miles. Friess Lake is at the edge of the park, and was formed by a glacier. You'll find plenty of other landmarks that show where the glacier came through. It's a diverse park complete with modern conveniences like heated flush toilets and a playground.  Bring your own lunch and have a picnic at one of the many tables provided.
During the winter you can sled down a lit hill. During summer there is fishing and swimming. With some easy to access wooded trails, you can get the leaves crunching under your feet, and I can guarantee you will see wildlife.  Today I saw hawks, woodpeckers, and a deer.
Free to visit

Friess Lake for swimming and fishing
Many trails are easy to find, even under leaf cover

A pine forest

Wetlands are a good place for birdwatching
When you're heading back to Milwaukee, take a detour on Scenic Road in Richfield. With a name like that, you won't be disappointed. You can catch it at Highway 175 just beyond the Kettle Hills Golf Course.  Here's just one place I found right at the corner of that intersection.

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