Follow the Crookedest River Trip: Up and Down the Kickapoo River, Ontario to Readstown
The scenic and switchback curves to the top of Wildcat Mountain State Park makes you think “there’s gold in them thar hills!’ From Cashton, Highway 33 will lead you to this jewel of outdoor recreation. This is the perfect area for hiking, bird watching, picnic, horseback riding, and canoeing. Following the Kickapoo River begins at State Highway 131 in Ontario. The scenic drive will cross the river several times as it winds between the bluffs, thereby known as the crookedest river. A stop in Rockton at the Rockton Bar can take care of the early afternoon lunch with great burgers and its famous BBQ chicken on Sundays during the summer. A stop the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitors Center will give you a breathtaking view of the 8,569 acres of landscape that make up the Reserve. At the center learn the history of the floods and the proposed State recreational opportunities that after $15 million in expenses never came to be. Learn a new history of reservation, of protection and of education before heading south to La Farge.
In La Farge a special, friendly village, you can rejuvenate your soul at yet a slower pace. A must stop is at the Organic Valley Retail Store on Hwy 131, open Monday through Friday. La Farge is home to the corporate headquarters of Organic Valley Cooperative with a state of the art eco-green complex. As you travel down the river and cross the many bridges the breathtaking “nature preserve” is like nothing else in the state.
With the village of Viola approaching on the next bend, a stop here will find you in the history of the “Mounds’. Mound Park is named for ancient reminders of the Mound Builders. This sense of small town life affords you a rest, relaxation and some recreation.
Continuing on State Highway 131 you will come to another base of the Kickapoo River for exploring. If you missed canoeing in Ontario, your chance could be in Readstown. Paddle the southern gateway of the river to soldier Grove and beyond. At Readstown, Highway 14 and 61 meet with 131. To return to Westby for a respite follow 14/61 through Viroqua.