Hike to the Top of Maiden Rock Bluff

Wisconsin Maiden Rock Bluff Parking Area

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    1 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    400 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers

This 400-foot high bluff is a 1-hour drive from Minneapolis along Wisconsin's Great River Road. It is the home of several rare animal and plant species, including nesting peregrine falcons, golden and bald eagles, and 250-year old red cedars.

It's easy to spot Maiden Rock Bluff as you drive along Highway 35: the 400-foot-tall limestone cliff extends for nearly a mile. Getting to the top is also easy. Begin by turning onto County Road E - a twisting, narrow road that leads straight up. Once you're at the top, keep an eye out for Long Lane, which is marked by little more than a break in the corn fields. Head west until you dead end at a small parking lot.

Look for a groomed footpath just east of the lot. Follow the path through a block of dense oak savanna. In a quarter mile, the trail turns south and the landscape changes into dry prairie habitat. Here the grass grows tall - well over your head off the trail and brushing against your knees on it.

Another quarter mile brings you to a grove of cliff-dwelling cedars, some of which are 250-years-old. You'll see shimmers of light reflecting off the river through the dense foliage. Suddenly, the trees end and an endless expanse of blue sky and water begins. Follow the narrow rock outcropping as close to the edge of the bluff as your will allows. Test your balance and nerves by looking straight down into the river valley far below. But don't forget to also look up and see the graceful dance of peregrine falcons, golden and bald eagles as they swoop through the tree tops.

Stay to watch the setting sun throw beams of orange, pink and purple across the darkening river valley, then return to your car the same way you came. Check yourself for hitchhiking ticks once you get back to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Bug spray
  • Blanket to sit on
  • Picnic lunch/dinner
  • Engagement ring
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Reviews

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The trail is quite off the beaten path and this absolutely adds to the adventure. This is a beautiful prairie hike, full of wild life, with a fantastic bluff-top view of the river.

29 days ago
29 days ago

Robin Pfeifer

An endlessly curious travel writer who simply cannot sit still.

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