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Wildcat Mountain State Park Trail descriptions

The park has two compass orienteering courses developed by an Eagle Scout. The long course is 1.33 miles and the short course is 1.05 miles. Compasses may be checked out at the park office.

Hiking Old Settler's trail

The 2.5-mile loop trail is rugged and covers a 390-foot elevation difference. Once used by early settlers and later by area farmers, the Old Settlers Trail also winds through three separate pine plantations planted by Ontario students as far back as 1951. This loop trail can be reached from either the northern end of the upper picnic area or from the nature building. Alternatively, hikers can opt to walk only one segment of the Old Settler's Trail. Starting at the nature building, the trail can be taken on the accessible 0.4-mile (one-way) portion to the Taylor Hollow Overlook, Wildcat's best view of the Village of Ontario below.

Hiking Hemlock Nature trail

Hemlock trail along the Kickapoo RiverThis trail begins in the lower picnic area beside the beautiful Kickapoo River. Begin near the parking lot and follow the trail downstream. Self-guiding nature markers along the 1.3-mile route call attention to the special life forms of this ancient valley. Keep in mind that, because it is a protected area, no pets are allowed. The narrow and rugged trail travels along the sandstone cliffs above the Kickapoo River and then begins a series of switchbacks to Mount Pisgah, an elevation change of 365 feet. An observation point at 1,220 feet above sea level has been constructed to take in the spectacular view.

Horseback riding Horse trails

Wildcat Mountain has 15 miles of trail and a campground for campers who bring their own horses. The park does not have horses to rent. The two-way trail begins and ends at the campground. Riders will wind their way through the hills and valleys of the park. Most of the climbs are gradual, reaching a height of 200 to 250 feet. A state trail pass is required for horseback riders 16 years of age and older. Bicycles are not allowed on the horse trails.

Riders should use good judgment to not ride during very wet conditions, to reduce erosion and leave the trails stable. All riders must stay on marked trails. Horse trails are open May 1 to November 14 annually. Horse trail map [PDF].

  • Red Loop. The Red loop is a 1.7-mile trail and begins at the horse campground.
  • Purple Loop. The Purple loop is a 3-mile trail that connects to the Red Loop, and takes riders to three different overlooks.
  • Blue, Yellow and Orange Trails. The Blue Trail, Yellow and Orange trails connect to the Purple Loop, taking riders farther from the park's main use areas.
  • Green Trail. The Green trail cuts connects to the Red and Purple loops.
  • Rock Johnson Loop. This trail begins north of the horse camp and winds its way up onto a high ridge connecting with the Purple loop.

Hiking Ice Cave trail

Just off County Highway F, south of State Highway 33, is the entrance and parking areas to the Ice Cave picnic area and trail. Beginning at the picnic area is a 0.75-mile hiking trail leading to a rock formation called Ice Cave. The first 0.25-mile is along the banks of Billings Creek. The eroded sandstone formation appears to be a cave when approaching, but on closer inspection hikers will find a shallow depression in the rock with a small spring running over the upper edge. In the winter, this spring water freezes into a giant icicle. This short trail is a delightful place to stretch the legs and enjoy the lush, green vegetation, songbird population and colorful wildflowers.

Hiking Prairie trail

A short, level hike is available for those who want to enjoy nature at a leisurely pace and observe seasonal changes in the prairie. A portion that is accessible for people with disabilities begins at the family campground nearest to site #1 and winds 925 feet through a patch of re-established prairie. While in the prairie, surrounded by big bluestem grass and wildflowers, visitors can view the breathtaking Kickapoo Valley. A 0.2-mile path from the prairie through the woods is a more adventurous hike to the Observation Point.

Cross-country skiing Cross-country ski trails

The park's 7-mile ski trail takes you to five scenic overlooks. 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. Cross-country ski trails map [PDF].

Last revised: Wednesday August 02 2017