Why is this place called "Pike's Peak" you ask ? Where the heck is the peak ?
Never mind. This is still a great view ! And actually, a sign at the main overlook explains that the park is named after one Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, the same righteous dude whose name is also associated with a somewhat better known peak in Colorado. Seems he was looking for a good place to site a fort, but he heard that the skiing was better in Colorado.
The viewpoint above looks up the Wisconsin River, right where it meets the Mississippi. This is where the French explorers Marquette and Joliett arrived at the Mississippi after portaging from the Fox River to the "Oisconsin" near the town of "Portage", then following it downstream.
Here, a boardwalk snakes along the bluff bordering the Mississippi River below. The original trail was highly susceptible to erosion, and besides, the walkway looks pretty nice as it follows the contours of the landscape. I think Frank Lloyd Wright would approve. Hats off to Iowa to getting it right. I wish the Wisconsin DNR could do something similar on the other side of the River. But they have totally abandoned the trails that used to follow the bluffs on that side, after the Big Deluge that also wiped out a few towns along the Kickapoo River.
Maybe I shouldn't complain, though. Hardly anybody used those trails anymore. There are few electrical outlets and the cellphone reception is so-so.
The boardwalk leads to a "waterfall" with the highly original name of "Bridal Veil Falls". I think "Round Lake" must be right around the corner...
This is where the official "trail" ends. I remember when an ancient foot trail, sans boardwalk, continued down the gorge along the watercourse, all the way down to the Mississippi below. But I wouldn't go there, if I were you. The are few electrical outlets and the cellphone reception is so-so...
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