Ferry Bluff State Natural Area is located about 5 miles west of Sauk City. About a 25 minute drive from Devil’s lake State Park. The natural area encompasses two small sections of Wisconsin River shoreline. The first section includes Ferry Bluff and the adjacent Cactus Bluff which both rise just over 300 feet above the Wisconsin river directly below. The second section is just a bit further down the river but only accessible by boat since it is surrounded by private land.
You enter the Ferry Bluff State Natural area from Hwy 60 out of Sauk City. Turning onto Ferry Buff Rd. you will follow the single landed gravel road just over a mile to a parking area with a canoe/kayak landing at the end. Paddlers launch out into Honey Creek which takes you out into the Wisconsin River. The current flows to your right taking you south-west toward Spring Green.
Hikers will find a well marked trail head. A short trail (less than a half mile) will lead you around the foot of Ferry Bluff to a split. You have the option to turn left and follow a trail down to the river bank or right to continue up a 20% grade to the top of the 300 ft. Cactus Bluff.
At the top of Cactus Bluff there is an overview will a half-moon of informational boards. It is recommended to stay behind this presentation, however the temptation is to walk around them to get a better view over the cliff’s edge and to see more of the distant horizon. It’s certainly a risky venture and should not be taken lightly. (A fall could be deadly and EMS is a long way off.) From the over look you can see for miles in most directions. The river valley below is simply amazing.
The lower trail that takes you to the foot of Cactus bluff will lead you through a bit of forest and along the eroded cliff base. Here you can see how the power of the Wisconsin river has shaped the sandstone over the millennia. Depending on the time of year, or more specifically the river’s height you may be able to walk out onto an open sandbar where you’ll have an amazing view both up and down the Wisconsin River.
The second section of the Ferry Bluff Natural Area is just a bit further down the river but only accessible by boat since it is surrounded by private land. From the top of Cactus Bluff you can look directly west to see this second smaller section below. Often in summer you will see tents or people fishing along the bank.
Ferry Bluff Natural Area is another wonderful little out of the way gem. The views of the Wisconsin River flowing through mostly undeveloped land is a rare and breath-taking sight. It’s certainly worth the drive.
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