Sentinel Ridge Trail
Sentinel Ridge Trail Running from Point Lookout to the boat landing, this trail turns the corner from the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi River. Midway along the trail is the Passenger Pigeon Monument and a series of nature labels describing the history of the park (1.6 miles).
Sentinel Ridge Trail Loop—There is a .5-mile loop around the Indian Mounds on Sentinel Ridge Trail that is wide and level, providing access to the mobility impaired. Nature labels are also located along the trail.
Following is an unofficial trail description.
Trail Rating Guide:
1=walking on a level paved road.
10=Walking on an unmarked trail up a bluff, covered with leaves, poison ivy, tree roots, and boulders the size of a house.
Overall Trail Description
Distance: 1.6 miles Non-looping
Time: 1-1.5 hours (One Way)
Difficulty: 2-3. The short stretch on the south end is 6-6.5.
Mosquitoes: mild to moderate. Much of the trail is along the top of a bluff and in the woods.
Bathrooms: Wisconsin Ridge Picnic area. None at Green Cloud Picnic Area. Bathrooms at the boat landing.
Parking: Point Lookout Picnic area, Pigeon Monument, or boat landing, The parking choice depends on the trailhead.
From Point Lookout, southwest to the boat landing, there are a few slopes and one very big hill leading to (or from) the boat landing. The level of difficulty at the boat landing hill is 6-6.5
The trail turns the corner from the southern bluffs of the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi River. The trail was not affected by the storm damage of 2008. It is one of the original trails of the park and has probably been in existence before the park was named. The trail tread is narrow and has small rocks located along the path.
Sentinel Ridge Trail has several highlights along the way: Green Cloud Picnic area, Pigeon Monument, a short accessible nature trail circumnavigating a series of mounds, effigy mounds, interpretive signs, a tower of wooden stairs, and, at the trail's end, the Wyalusing State Park boat landing.
The trail does not make a loop. However, the trail can be split into two parts based on difficulty level:
Part one: From Point Lookout around the accessible trail at Pigeon Monument and back along the same trail. Distance about 1.6 miles. This section of trail would be rated between 2-3.
Part two: Park either at Pigeon Monument or the Wyalusing State Park boat landing. This section of trail would be rated 5-6. Distance 1.4 miles round trip.
Sentinel Ridge Trail - Part One
(from Point Lookout around the accessible trail at Pigeon Monument and back along the same trail) Distance about 1.6 miles. This section of the trail would be rated between 2-3. Time 1-1.5 hours.
Park either at the Point Lookout picnic area parking lot or Green Cloud Picnic Area. There is no bathrooms located the Green Cloud Picnic area.
Starting at Point Lookout, the trailhead is just west of the stone wall at Point Lookout. This section of trail is a gradual slope along the bluff of the Wisconsin River to the north. It is one of Wyalusing State Park's oldest trails The trail bed is dirt and small rocks. In the fall, the leaves covering the tread may be slippery.
The trail is scenic often overlooking the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. It is a favorite for bird watching.
The trail has a gradual incline leading to the Green Cloud picnic area. Paul Kosir's book, Wyalusing History, The Park, the People, the Land, has an article about the Native American, Green Cloud.
Green Cloud picnic area has a small stone picnic shelter. The stone shelter is the only shelter in the park with axe-hewn curved benches. In addition, the Green Cloud picnic area has a lookout where one can see the Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien, and, across the river, Marquette, IA.
From the Green Cloud picnic area, walk south, along the parking lot. Continue up a small hill, along the road. While walking along the road, look to the left, (east). There is a tree with a sharply curved base. Not everyone in the park is aware of this. Some people claim this is a Native American trail marking tree. The curve indicates the direction of the trail.
The trail leads to Pigeon Monument. Pigeon Monument is the only monument in the US dedicated to the now extinct Passenger Pigeon. Paul Kosir's book has several pages dedicated to this monument and the mound located between the monument and the road.
Continuing to follow the crushed limestone path, south. Located on this path, overlooking the Mississippi River is one of two known Bear effigies located in the park. The other effigy is located between the playground and the volleyball court.
Interpretive signs are located along a crushed limestone path encircling several mounds. The signs interpret the ancient beginnings of Wyalusing State Park. This circular trail is .5 miles long. Difficulty level 1.5.
This is the terminus of part one of Sentinel Ridge Trail. Retrace your steps back to Point Lookout. Taking the road, back to Point Lookout, for some, may be a daunting task. The road starts out as a downward slope. It is scenic with a deep valley on one side and the bluff on the other. At the stop sign, located at Long Valley Road, the road begins its ascent. It is uphill all of the way.
At the end of your walk, be sure to stop at the Friends of Wyalusing State Park concession stand for a cool beverage and a snack.
Additional Photo Albums:
Green Cloud Picnic Area: (Link)
Passenger Pigeon Monument (Link)
Point Lookout (Link)