Many of the Westby House Inn guests plan a hike, or two, in Wildcat Mountain State Park located just outside of Ontario, Wisconsin. The 23-minute drive in itself from the inn is worth the trac. Four trails are marked throughout the park which consists of high ridges and deep valleys with vistas of the Kickapoo River, prairies, and eroded sandstone formations. The Old Settlers’ Trail is a 2.5-mile long trail once used by early settlers of the area. Along its course, the trail crosses a footbridge, passes through three separate pine plantations and wild creatures that call this 3,500-acre park their home. Wildflowers are abundant in the rich humus of the wooded slopes on the bluffs of the Hemlock Nature Trail. This 1.3-mile trail begins beside the Kickapoo River with markers to call attention to the special life forms of this ancient valley.
For a short, level hike at a leisurely pace be sure to take in the Prairie Trail and observe seasonal changes in the prairie. Big bluestem grass and wildflowers surround you while standing in the prairie with breathtaking vistas of the Kickapoo Valley . The woodchip path from the prairie through the woods is a more adventurous hike to the Observation Point. Just off County Road F, south of Highway 33,is the Ice Cave Picnic Area. This small, quiet picnic area includes a short hiking trail leading to a rock formation. The eroded sandstone formation appears to be a cave with approaching. But upon closer inspection you will find a shallow depression with a spring running over the upper edge. In the winter, the spring freezes into a giant icicle. Lush green vegetation and colorful wildflowers are a delight along the trail. For a enjoyable hike, bring along a camera, binoculars and a field guidebook if you can. Dress appropriately in sturdy, comfortable clothing and footwear.