Buckhorn State Park sign

Buckhorn State Park

Getting to Buckhorn State Park isn’t all that difficult, if you follow the signs.

The right signs.

Beware County Highway G

Now, I know that many of you will use the GPS in your personal device to get to Buckhorn State Park, but I’m not all that fond of such tech. So I don’t normally use it. A good old-fashioned map will do me just fine.

However, there are times when the newer tech does have its advantages. Approaching Buckhorn from Mauston in the south (as many of you are likely to do) presents one such time.

For some reason, the planners of Juneau County decided to let County Highway G meander back and forth all over the place. This results in being able to turn east onto G in two separate, nearby locations from Highway 58.

If you’re heading north, don’t take the first County G option.

We did, but we only went a short distance on it before our GPS convinced us to turn around and look for the second turnoff.

The actual approach to the park from the west (sorry, no pictures) is quite scenic as you pass over a wide section of the Yellow River which feeds into Castle Rock Lake, which is really just a wide section of the Wisconsin River.

Buckhorn State Park (and Natural Area) is on the peninsula formed where the Yellow and Wisconsin rivers meet.

Sandblow and Wildlife Blind

Before lunch, we stopped at this area along the park road called the Sandblow. It’s just what it sounds like – a place where the sand blows around a lot.

Approach to Buckhorn Sandblow

We didn’t stay here long because, as you can see, there’s not that much to see.

Sandblow area
Sandblow info sign

Across the road from the sandblow is a trail that leads to a wildlife observation blind.

Wildlife Obsservation Blind sign

After a short walk (that felt long because we didn’t know how far we’d have to go), you come to this blind.

Buckhorn Wildlife Observation Blind

We didn’t stick around long enough to actually see any wildlife from here.

Buckhorn Wildlife Observation Blind up close
Buckhorn Wildlife Observation Blind from the top

Lunch First, Then the Eagle

Before we did any more real hiking, we had lunch while sitting on one of these overturned trailers. I assume that campers can use them to tote their gear to one of the campsites, which are quite a distance down the trail.

Trailers at our lunch site

On our first hike after lunch, we met Doodah. (He’s the driver, not the vehicle.) He told us of an eagle’s nest further along the path.

Doodah
Doodah. If you know him, you know him.

It’s difficult to see the nest in these pictures, but there really is one there in the center of the shots. That’s an eagle perched on the left side of it.

Eagle 1
Eagle 2

A Sample Campsite at Buckhorn State Park

After misreading the official state park map, we ended up at this sample campsite (#19). We’re not campers, but I guess this area looks pretty good for camping. It’s right on the Yellow River.

Buckhorn campsite
Yellow River at Buckhorn

This whole area feels rather remote, so when I saw an airplane fly overhead, I just had to take a shot of it.

Airplane over Buckhorn

And then there’s the obligatory fallen tree. We didn’t head that direction, but rest assured that there is a way around this huge hunk o’ wood.

Fallen tree at Buckhorn

Buckhorn Timber Trail in the North

Buckhorn State Park feels like it comes in three sections. So far, I’ve really only told you about the southern section.

After we covered that as much as we wanted, we drove to the far northern edge of the park to a tiny parking lot (if you can call it that) that led us to the Timber Trail…and other nearby areas.

Northern trails at Buckhorn

We elected only to walk the Timber Trail in this section.

Timber Trail sign

We didn’t meet anyone else along the way, but I spotted these purple flowers which were different from the many other purple flowers (probably violets) that grew along the path.

Purple flowers on the Timber Trail

The benches in this area were the cheapest type that we’ve seen elsewhere.

Bench on the Timber Trail

Though we didn’t encounter other people on the heavily-forested trail, several ticks encountered us. (This was before we learned of the wonders of DEET.) About 10 of them decided to hitch a ride on us. We found most of them in the car as we left the park, but I found the last one two days later. None of them had decided to dig in.

Tick from Buckhorn

Buckhorn Barrens on Another Day

After completing all the above activities, including leaving the park for home, I realized we had missed (what appeared to be) a tower that was indicated on the map. So, on another trip to the area to visit Roche-a-Cri State Park, even though we had to face the infamous County Highway G again (but from the north, so no problemo), we decided to tackle that central area of Buckhorn that should have a tower. It’s called the Buckhorn Barrens.

Buckhorn Barrens

We didn’t see an obvious tower at first but decided to hike the trail loop anyway. Along the way, were these attractions.

Barrens bench and signs
Barrens wildlife sign
Barrens butterfly
Barrens pink flower

There was also this Turn and Learn, which was just like the one we’d found at Aztalan State Park.

Buckhorn Barrens Turn and Learn

As we were about to complete the loop, this structure suddenly appeared.

Barrens outlook

So it’s not what I would really call a tower. It’s something between the wildlife blind (see above) and a full-blown tower like the one at Rib Mountain State Park.

Here is probably the best view from the top of this outlook tower.

View from the Barrens outlook

Except for the ticks, which we now know how to handle (better), Buckhorn is a good state park to visit. It seems popular, especially with campers and fishers, and is quite well kept up.

I think you’ll enjoy your visit to Buckhorn too.

One more thing…Though we intend to visit the state parks mostly in summer, some of you will enjoy them in winter. Buckhorn is the first park we’ve visited that offers cross-country sit skiing. If you’re not sure what this is, visit this DNR page about adaptive equipment.

Location

Nearest City

Necedah, Wisconsin (11 miles)

Nearest Emergency Facility

Mauston, Wisconsin (14 miles)

Hours

6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round

Cost

Vehicle admission sticker is required

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