Sunday the 1st, had DH and I out hitting the trails again, this time to Hemlock Draw State Natural Area. We’d not been to this SNA before so it was an adventure. The driving directions state that people should avoid the north entrance off of Buck Fever Drive as the road is steep, etc. We opted to follow the recommended directions and park at the south entrance.
There are two trails, Hemlock Trail and Buck Fever Trail, both appearing to have once been logging roads. We began on Hemlock Trail, crossing water multiple times (be prepared to get wet), but overall I would say the trail is “moderate” in hiking skill level just due to the change in terrain, washed out portions of trail, water crossings, etc. You’ll have to be able to scramble, climb, duck and jump to walk this trail. The view at the end of Hemlock Trail (1 mile in-and-out) is worth the effort, and I’ve found another good spot to hide from the heat of summer. The trail takes you from creek/river bottom and sandstone cliffs into red granite crags, babbling brooks and cheerful songbirds, into bogs populated with marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage ending with the sound of water falling and spectacular view of a “draw” of towering hemlocks across the swift moving creek that was crossed numerous times.
Roughly halfway on Hemlock Trail is the convergence of Buck Fever Trail to the north. This is again, at least a “moderate” in hiking skill, and if you’re out of shape this trail will not be your cup of tea, as for perhaps two-thirds of the half mile in-and-out that it is, you will be climbing a fairly steep incline on a narrow trail with lots of loose rocks and branches underfoot as well as some slick footing due to water. The changes from the cut off at Hemlock to what you find at the trail head on Buck Fever Drive are wide, though the trail is single-person for a third of it) and interesting; just remember that you have to come back down that half mile. Buck Fever also had a lot of grasshopper nymphs that sounded like “popping corn” on the dried leaf litter – causing us to stop and look around to see what was making the raucous.
DH and I nearly lost footing because of loose rocks and branches hidden under leaves a few times, as well as slipping in muddy spots. There were a lot of trees down across both trails, though Buck Fever had larger ones that required vaulting over. I recommend giving these trails a visit.
Oh, as for Buck Fever Drive to reach Buck Fever Trail on the north – it is a single-lane forest road with NO WHERE to pull over should you meet oncoming traffic. Someone will have to back up. It was steep, but not horrible, the equivalent to many forest roads in northern Wisconsin. If your vehicle has a high ground clearance, you’ll do fine… in other words, don’t take your Toyota Corolla down Buck Fever Drive.
Now… enjoy the photos!