3. Blue Mound State Park

What a difference a week makes. During the week after the visit to Governor Nelson State Park, where everything was brown, we had two 7-inch snowfalls followed by cold enough temperatures to prevent snow melt. Friday, January 24, was a good day for snowshoeing — plenty of snow and temperatures around 20 degrees. Time to go to Blue Mound.

This is sort of my “go to” state park for hiking since it’s fairly close to home, west of Madison at Blue Mounds. (The community is Blue Mounds, while the park is Blue Mound, apparently since it has only one mound within the park.) It’s a fairly large park, 1,153 acres, with lots of hiking trails that go up and down and around the mound (big hill). And, there are good rocks, some with fossils. Can’t exactly say why, but I’ve never been showshoeing at Blue Mound. In winter, the network of mountain bike trails become snowshoe trails, so there’s probably about 15 miles of trail available.

Trail in the woods
Snowshoe trail, which in months without snow is a mountain bike trail

The snowshoeing was perfect. Although there was over a foot of snow, earlier snowshoers had done the work of breaking the trails. That’s the really hard work of snowshoeing, although even on a “used” trail, snowshoeing is more strenuous than hiking.

While there was a bit of a wind, making the windchill somewhere around 10 degrees, the trees helped provide some relief from the wind. And, the area where I hiked seemed protected from the wind, at least to some extent, by the mound.

I showshoed the Gneiss & Smooth Trail, which is in the northeast part of the park. (The mound is in the center of the park.) That’s a bit of a pun, since gneiss, a(type of rock, is pronounced “nice,” making it the nice and smooth trail. There are a few ups and downs, which I expect would make it an interesting mountain bike trail. For snowshoeing, the terrain did not make for an endurance event. It was nice.

I did take the cut-off on the John Minix Trail, which shaved off a little bit of distance. Got off to a late start (darn dogs!) and wanted to get home before dark. Even so, I snowshoed for two hours — a pretty good workout and a nice time in the woods.

The John Minix Trail is a hiking trail in the summer and a cross country ski trail in the winter. I met a half dozen or so skiers, along with two snowshoers on the Gneiss and Smooth Trail. So far, it’s the “busiest” park visit of the year!

There are several other snowshoe trails at the park. I expect I’ll be going back, now that I’ve discovered what I’ve been overlooking. But it may be a little while. The high temperature the day after my Blue Mound visit was forecast at zero, with at least a week of extreme cold to follow.