If you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota (or possibly anywhere else), you likely realize where the name, Wissota, comes from. Wikipedia claims: “An engineer on the [Lake Wissota Hydroelectric Dam] project [that created the lake], Louis G. Arnold, named the lake by combining the beginning of “Wisconsin” and the ending of “Minnesota”.” And you would think then that Lake Wissota (State Park) would be on the border between the two states.
And you would be wrong.
Lake Wissota is roughly 80 miles east of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. What that engineer had in mind, we may never know. In any case, he indirectly contributed to the creation of a very nice Wisconsin state park.
Adjacent to the park office, is a Monarch Waystation, which is a manicured flower (and other plant) garden created specifically to attract monarch butterflies.
We can testify to the fact that the creators achieved their goal. The day we were there, we saw two monarchs. The pictures below are both of the same butterfly though.
They also decorated the area with this monarch mosaic along the path.
And they added this sundial. I appreciate the device, but I don’t really understand why it’s there.
After wandering among the monarchs, we drove nearly to the end of the road (which was under reconstruction but still very driveable) to the head of the Staghorn Trail.
I thought that the staghorn was a type of beetle, but apparently I was thinking of the stag beetle. Staghorn can refer to a type of coral, sumac, moss, fern, or fish. I’m guessing the designers had the fern in mind. We may or may not have seen the fern along the trail. We weren’t looking for it.
Per the trail map (see below), we were also walking along the Jack Pine trail for a bit. The two trails soon split, and we followed the Staghorn to the east.
The trail itself is very broad, level, and smooth. It’s a very easy, 2-mile (okay, 2.3-mile) hike. There weren’t any fallen trees to bar the way, but there was one off to the side that caused another tree to bend nearly to the ground.
And there was another large tree adjacent to the trail that had fallen some time ago, exposing these roots.
There weren’t many benches along the way, but I did notice this exceptionally long one at the intersection of the Staghorn trail and a horseback riding trail.
The Staghorn also meets the Beaver Meadow Nature Trail. (We didn’t leave the Staghorn though.)
We found some interesting flora, such as this mushroom “bowl”.
We’ve seen a fair share of mushrooms on our journeys, but seldom do we see such a large clump of them as these.
We saw some tiny shelf fungus and some bright white fungus on trees.
Less common than notable flora (other than the birds you can hear) are interesting fauna. On this hike, we saw this woolly caterpillar trundling along the trail.
We were surprised to see this ruffed grouse scurry across the path and into the trees. I got a few shots of her trying (quite successfully) to blend into the background.
Yeah, she knew I was there.
I saw her mate farther away, but he hid behind some flora before I could get a picture and didn’t come out again. Both birds were silent the entire time.
When we were done with the Staghorn loop, we went back to a scenic overlook closer to the park office.
There were some swings nearby. I have the feeling they don’t often get used because they’re not near the campground.
This tree near the overlook was planted in on Arbor Day, 2000.
This plaque at its base explains why.
Built into the overlook area is this metal map showing the park and its environs.
Being made of metal, I assume the creators intended it to last virtually forever. Thus, you would expect that they took great care when designing and building it so that there would be no errors, right?
The trail map shows that there is a stairway near this overlook, perhaps leading to the Lake Trail. Maybe this dirt path, which is on the other side of a wooden fence by the overlook, leads to those stairs. Or maybe the stairs are elsewhere to the south. In any case, we didn’t look for the stairs or take this dirt path. I took this picture just for the scenery. It is a scenic overlook, after all.
Since we (currently) have relatives living near Lake Wissota, I could see us visiting the park again in the future. There are many other trails to explore.
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (5 miles)
Nearest Emergency Facility
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (5 miles)
6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round
Vehicle admission sticker required