We’ve featured Wildcat Mountain State Park on our blog before (Why You Need to See These State Parks in Wisconsin and Enjoy Late Summer or Fall Hikes at Wildcat Mountain State Park), but there’s so much to enjoy at this state park that it deserves a post all its own!
Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario, WI
Wildcat Mountain State Park is less than 30 minutes from Westby, and is known for its spectacular views of the winding Kickapoo River, along with a vast array of activities.
Activities at Wildcat Mountain State Park
This section of the Kickapoo River is classified as a Class II trout stream, and fishermen enjoy fishing both on the river and on the tributaries that branch throughout the park, such as Billings Creek and Cheyenne Creek. Brown trout is in abundance, although there are technically 46 fish species in the river. Bring your own equipment, or look into borrowing (for free!) for the day.
The 25 camping sites at the top of Wildcat Mountain are almost all reservable, with flush toilets and showers (no electrical hookups). There’s also camping areas for large group camping, horse camping, and 20 reservable sites for cart-in camping, where you load your gear in a cart and travel off the beaten path to your site. All campsites have picnic tables and fire pits. Wildcat Mountain State Park camping offers some of the best in back-to-nature experiences, for only a small camping fee!
Several trails are available for hikes, ranging from level and easy to steep and challenging. You can find out more about the Old Settler’s Trail, the Hemlock Nature Trail, the Ice Cave Trail, and the Prairie Trail here.
With its gentle current, gorgeous views, and numerous landings (including camping sites), the Kickapoo River is perfect for everyone, from beginners to the more experienced. Rent your own canoe from some of the local sites, or bring your own. (Find out more about canoeing the Kickapoo on our blog post, How to Make the Most of Your Kickapoo River Canoeing Trip.)
Bird and Wildlife Viewing
The Wildcat Mountain State Park is home to a variety of birds, animals, and plants. Birds on the property include the Chestnut-sided Warbler, Ovenbird and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, as well as harder-to-find species like the Louisiana Waterthrush, Cerulean and Kentucky Warblers, and Acadian Flycatche.
There are three picnic areas: the upper picnic area with a playground and a shelter (which you can reserve), a lower picnic area along the river with a (non-reservable) shelter, and one near the Ice Cave trail parking lot.
Once winter really hits, the park opens about seven miles of trail for cross-country skiing. With rest stops, turnarounds, and the option to bypass steeper areas, skiers of all levels can enjoy these trails. And the Old Settler’s hiking trail becomes a 2.5 mile snowshoeing trail in the winter! A snowmobile trail crosses the park as well.
Horses are not available for trail rides or for rent at the park, but experienced riders can rent in the town of Ontario (or bring their own, of course!). There are 15 miles of horse trail loops, as well as campsites specifically for horses (with corrals, tether poles, etc). State trail passes are required.
While there is no gun deer hunting at Wildcat Mountain State Park, muzzleloader and archery deer hunting are available when in season, along with trapping. For details on times, licenses, and maps, check out the state park website.
*Some activities are seasonal, so plan your trip accordingly!
The Best of Nature and Comfort at Westby House Inn
After you’ve spent the day enjoying nature at nearby Wildcat Mountain State Park, come on back to Westby to enjoy the comfortable luxuries we have to offer! Our well-appointed rooms, mouth-watering restaurant and gourmet breakfast will refresh you for all the adventures you have planned at Wildcat Mountain State Park or anywhere in the Driftless region. Download our complimentary Vacation Guide to find out more about our beautiful area. We hope to see you soon!