Wildcat Mountain State Park Activities and recreation
The park has more than 20 miles of trails that can be hiked, a nature building and many scenic vistas.
Wildcat Mountain State Park has several horse trail loops totaling 15 miles, and offers 24 campsites for equestrians available northeast of the park office off Taylor Valley Road. The park does not have horses to rent. Experienced riders can rent horses to ride in Ontario. A state trail pass is required for horseback riders 16 years of age and older. Horse trails are open May 1 to November 14 annually.
Wildcat Mountain State Park has an upper picnic area with a reservable shelter and playground, a lower picnic area along the Kickapoo River with a shelter (non-reservable), and a picnic area at the Ice Cave trail parking lot.
Canoeing and kayaking
The Kickapoo is the Wisconsin River's longest tributary. The Kickapoo River meanders for 130 miles from Wilton to Wauzeka, where it empties into the Wisconsin River. As the crow flies, this distance is less than half that long, about 60 miles. The name Kickapoo is Algonquin for "one who goes here, then there" and accurately describes the river, which flows in all directions of the compass for portions of its length.
The canoe landing in the lower picnic area is a popular starting and stopping point. Be aware of the changing river conditions during rainy weather. Bring your own canoe or rent one from one of the local canoe liveries. The liveries also offer shuttle service.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates three stream gauges on the Kickapoo River. One gauge is in Ontario, one downstream in La Farge and the third further downstream in Steuben. Water level information is useful for planning a Kickapoo River canoe trip. Navigational hazards such as log jams and downed trees may be on the river. The only dam remaining on the river is in Gays Mills. This low-head dam is a navigational hazard to all boaters and should be avoided.
The Kickapoo River between Ontario and Gays Mills has a total of 46 fish species, including an abundance of brown trout. This stretch of river has been classified as a Class II trout stream. Trout use this section of river for food and shelter, but likely spawn in tributary streams. Billings Creek, a tributary of the Kickapoo River, has a population of brown trout.
Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties. For more information, please see:
In addition to the opportunities that are available during the state parks hunting/trapping time frame, hunting opportunities in state parks that were already established by rule and in place prior to the enactment of 2011 ACT 168, remain in place.
- At Wildcat Mountain State Park, the 19-day muzzleloader deer hunting season and the archery deer hunting season that falls between Nov. 15 through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6 are allowed in the open areas of the park. There is no gun deer hunting at the property.
Limited Access for Spring Turkey Hunting: Each turkey hunter must first obtain a Turkey Permit and property map (identifying those areas closed to hunting within the park properties), prior to spring turkey hunting. Hunters must apply for a turkey permit by application. Applications cost $3 and are available at any license sales agent or through the on-line service center. For questions, call: 1-877-WI-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). The application deadline for the spring hunt is December 10. Successful applicants will be notified via mail. After the lottery drawing occurs, remaining turkey permits will be sold over-the-counter on a first-come, first-served basis.
The park has seven miles of cross-country ski trail. Skiers can begin and end at the park office or maintenance building. There's a rest stop midway where you can continue or take a short trail turnaround. Beginner and intermediate skiers can enjoy this trail with easy bypasses on steeper areas, as the trail follows along the ridge top.
The 2.5-mile loop Old-Settlers hiking trail is transformed into the snowshoe trail in the winter.