Hiking at Wisconsin’s Natural Bridge State Park in North Freedom is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. We often travel Hwy 12 to or from Madison which passes by Hwy C, if you follow Hwy C in about 10-miles you will arrive at the Natural Bridge State Park on your right.
We have been stopping a couple of times a year for several years and hiking the Indian Moccasin nature trail. It doesn’t matter if we stop at 11am on a Saturday or 4pm on a Wednesday the Park has never been crowded. It is a nice location to get out and stretch your legs and take a short 1-mile hike around the loop. Most of the trail is a narrow hard packed single person footpath. It winds through the woods and has a moderate incline, an easy hike that should be suitable for most everyone. About a third of the way through the hike is the natural bridge. The Natural Bridge is beautiful you will want to spend some time here getting pictures and taking in the history of this location.
“Radiocarbon assay and study of the rock and its layers indicate that people were living here from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating from Wisconsin.”
“They found pieces of charred wood, presumably from fire pits, which were dated between 9000 and 8000 BC. This would make the rock shelter one of the oldest-dated sites for human occupancy in northeastern North America.” (Natural Bridge History – Wisconsin DNR)
Shortly after you hike away from the bridge the path forks if you take the left trail you will hike up to the lookout point. This extra bit of the trail leading to the overlook point has a small set of stairs involved. Nothing too strenuous, but the trip out and back will tack on approximately 1/2-mile still only making the total hike 1.5-miles. I enjoy hiking and the view from the overlook is well worth the extra half mile.
If you do hike to the overlook you will have to turn around and go back the way you came because it is a dead end, meet back up with the Indian Moccasin nature trail and finish the loop. The trail will divide again follow the posted maps along the way to stay with the desired trail. We as of yet have not done the longer looped trail.
I have noticed throughout the years how people have trampled the area, the vegetation has been stomped down and new footpaths have been created, where there shouldn’t be any. Signs are clearly posted asking hikers to not deviate from the trail, railings have been put in place and parts knocked down by people going over and around. Please stay on the path and be respectful of nature and others.
I plan to continue to visit the Natural Bridge for many years to come. I have been bringing my daughters here for many years and want them to be able to continue to enjoy this trail with their children in the future. Please visit all these wonderful outdoor places and pick up garbage others may have left behind, obey all posted signs and be courteous of nature, she was here first and she will be after you have left.
When spending time outdoors always be respectful of nature, use common sense and please follow any posted rules.
Always give more than you take and leave no trace.
Thank you for reading! Have a great day!!
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