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Devil’s Staircase and Arbor Ridge

Last updated on 2020-10-17

The Mammoth Hike 40 Challenge took Bill and me to some new-to-us segments in Janesville this week. We were fortunate to get a sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. And, being that we were out on a Tuesday, we pretty much had the trail to ourselves.

Our first hike was on the Devil’s Staircase segment, a 1.8-mile section that starts at Riverside Park and follows the Rock River. We started out by ascending steep steps (really steep!) that took us up to great views of the river as we walked beside rock faces, some of them up to 50 feet above the Trail. At one point we came upon a gully with large rocks that looked as though they were purposely placed there, which is how this segment earned the name “Devil’s Staircase.” We walked through the woods on a trail built in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This trail deteriorated over time and, through a cooperative effort of many groups that included the Ice Age Trail Alliance, was rebuilt with the goal of keeping the area as natural as possible and incorporating stonework attributed to the Corps. A brief stroll along the edge of a golf course brought us to our next section of Trail.

The Arbor Ridge segment, 2.1 miles in length, began with a beautiful oak savanna. Other notable features of this segment included a lovely prairie with a viewing platform and a long bedrock ridge that looked out over the Rock River. We didn’t go all the way to the Robert Cook Arboretum at the end of this segment but we did see some of the buildings that are part of the Arboretum’s Outdoor Education Lab area. At one point a young fawn, almost hidden in the foliage, watched us walk by. (Can you spot it in this photo?)

Almost 7000 people have registered to participate in the Mammoth Hike 40 Challenge – That’s an amazing response! I know that there are many people in the Lodi Valley who are part of the fun, either on their own or as part of a family group. It’s great to see so many people experiencing the beauty to be found….Along the Ice Age Trail.

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