Sandstone Notch at Baxter’s Hollow
Baxter’s Hollow State Natural Area is located just a few miles west of Devil’s Lake State Park and features a scenic gorge cut through the Baraboo Hills by Otter Creek. The area is known for the amazing variety of plant life including; spring-beauty, Jacob’s-ladder, trillium, hepatica, shooting-star, dog-tooth violet, and marsh marigold and more. Baxter’s Hollow also provides critical habitat for many rare bird species including the state endangered worm-eating warbler. What we didn’t know until we hiked in by snowshoe was that there was an amazing sandstone notch hidden nearly invisibly behind a cliff where signatures in the walls date back over a hundred years!
Under the green cover of summer, it’s quite easy to miss the high sandstone walls rising along the western side of the Baxter’s Hollow gorge. I can’t even say for sure what had caught my eye, but soon I found myself climbing up a steep hill in snowshoes. I dug my cleats in with each step trying to find sure footing before putting weight into the next step. Even then, I still wound up sitting on my posterior in the snow quite by accident, before turning around and working my way up the rest of the way to the foot of the cliff.
I hiked along the cliff face a short way before reaching the opening into the notch. In reality the whole of the cliff face had spit away from the hill creating a 20-30 tall cavern in the rock. Of course, being here in central Wisconsin I knew I was not the first to find this notch and the many names and initials carved into the wall just affirmed that conclusion. What was amazing however, was the age of some of the carvings. One set of initials was dated over a century ago in 1900. Amazing!
Check out more photos of the sandstone notch and Baxter’s Hollow in general..