Wisconsin
Complete Guide to Cross Plains State Park

Complete Guide to Cross Plains State Park

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Cross Plains State Park is a hidden gem of a park that offers visitors the opportunity to explore an uncommon landscape. This park is ideal for those who enjoy taking in nature’s beauty on an easy hike.

Cross Plains State Park is in Dane County, in Wisconsin’s south-central region. This park is only a thirty-minute drive west of Madison. Cross Plains State Park is located at 8075 Old Sauk Pass Road.

Complete Guide to Cross Plains State Park

This park is a day-use park and is open all year-round during daylight hours. Cross Plains State Park has no entry fee and no restrooms. Hiking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hunting, and trapping are among the activities available here.

Visitors can park near the main gate in the gravel parking lot. Many people park on Old Sauk Road, which is a quiet road.

The Cross Plains Interpretive Site is in Cross Plains town but is not part of Cross Plains State Park.

History of Cross Plains State Park


This park is notable for its geological history. Glacial features such as a gorge can be found in Cross Plains State Park. The park’s location marks the boundary between the Driftless area and where glaciers were moving across the land. This is one of the best places to see how glaciers changed the Earth’s landscape over millions of years.

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Ice Age Complex

The Ice Age Complex is a project that makes between 750 and 1500 acres of land available for public recreation. The Ice Age Complex is also called Wisconsin’s “Gateway to the Driftless”. Cross Plains State Park is an important part of the Ice Age Complex. The Ice Age Complex serves as the Ice Age National Scenic Trail headquarters.  The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a thousand-mile trail in Wisconsin. The Ice Age Trail highlights Wisconsin’s glacial landscape.

Cross Plains State Park Activities

Hiking, fishing, and exploring the unique natural beauty of Cross Plains State Park are among the warm-weather activities available to visitors. Hunting and trapping are also allowed here. Snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts can also enjoy the beautiful outdoors here in winter.

Cross Plains State Park Camping

Cross Plains State Park is a day-use-only park. If you want to spend more time exploring the area, try staying at one of the campgrounds nearby. Within a thirty-minute drive, there are a variety of campgrounds to choose from.

Camping Near Cross Plains State Park

Buddy’s River Resort

  • Location: 7539 US HWY 12, SAUK CITY, WI, 53583
  • More Information: https://www.buddysriverresort.com Phone: 608.644.6390

Buddy’s River Resort is a twenty-five-minute drive from Cross Plains State Park. This resort is nestled on the banks of the Wisconsin River directly across from Sauk City, Wisconsin. There are 134 campsites available to rent at this family-owned and operated resort. This includes tent and RV sites, as well as seasonal inland and riverfront sites.

Among the amenities are picnic tables, fire rings, laundry facilities, flush restrooms, hot showers, sewer hookups, dump stations, and electricity. Buddy’s River Resort also has a playground, a beach area, a pet area, and private Wisconsin River access. During their stay, guests enjoy a variety of water recreation activities.

Buddy’s River Resort is pet-friendly with some restrictions. Reservations can be made in advance online or over the phone.

Crystal Lake RV Resort and Campground

  • Location: N550 Gannon Road, Lodi, Wisconsin 53555
  • More Information: https://crystallakecampground.com Phone: (608) 592-5607

Cross Plains State Park is a thirty-minute drive from Crystal Lake RV Resort and Campground.

This resort offers a variety of rental units. Guests can rent poolside cabins, A-Frames, and yurts. Each rental unit includes air conditioning, a refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker, a toaster, a picnic table, a grill, and a fire pit.

Overnight RV and tent camping is also available. At overnight camping areas, water, electricity, a picnic table, and a fire pit are all provided. There are also shower/bath houses available for use. All guests are welcome to use the resort’s swimming pool and participate in the planned activities.

Guests who stay here enjoy a variety of recreational activities. Swimming, fishing, and organized entertainment are among the activities available at this family-friendly resort. The variety of water activities available at this resort and campground is a major draw. Guests can rent a kayak or canoe and fish in the 700-acre lake. They can also swim and relax in the on-site pool.

Crystal Lake RV Resort and Campground is pet-friendly with some restrictions. Reservations can be made either online or by phone.

Madison Campground

  • Location: 4859 Co Rd V, DeForest, WI 53532
  • More Information: https://madisoncampground.com/ Phone: 608-846-4528

Cross Plains State Park is a thirty-minute drive from Madison Campground.

This budget-friendly park’s swimming pool and playground make it an excellent destination for families with children.

Along with tent and RV camping, this seasonal park also rents RVs and cottages. Visitors can choose from 25 RV sites and 7 tent-only campsites. The campground sites have full or partial shade, as well as a lawn area and a fire pit.

Madison Campground offers laundry facilities and a general store among its amenities. The general store provides a delivery service that will bring the items you order to your campsite. Propane is available for purchase on-site.

This campground allows golf carts and is pet-friendly with some restrictions. Reservations can be made either online or by phone.

Toms Campground

  • Location: 2626 Spring Rd, Dodgeville, WI 53533
  • More Information: https://www.tomscampground.com Phone: 608.935.5446

Cross Plains State Park is a thirty-minute drive from Toms Campground.

Tom’s Campground in rural Wisconsin is a great option if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in a rural setting. This campground is located on 55 acres and has been run by the same family for generations.

Tom’s Campground is open seasonally and overlooks a pasture and trout stream. This budget-friendly campground has more than 30 RV sites and several tent sites available for rent. A rustic cabin with modern conveniences can also be rented.

Fire rings, flush restrooms, hot showers, dump stations, and electrical services are among the amenities. This campground is pet-friendly with some restrictions. Reservations may be made online or over the phone.

Amnicon Falls Watersports

This state park is a beautiful place, and you can enjoy the view from anywhere in the park. However, if you want to get up close and personal with nature, there are plenty of water activities for you to engage in.

Cross Plains State Park Fishing

Fishing is at a small pond in the park called Shoveler’s Sink. Shoveler’s Sink is located next to the wildlife area of the same name. There isn’t a trail that goes to Shovelers Sink Pond. The best way to get to the pond is via Mineral Point Road.

A fishing license is required for anglers who are sixteen years of age or older. Check with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to obtain a fishing license.

Hiking at Cross Plains State Park

Hiking trails at Cross Plains State Park are suitable for hikers of all abilities. For easy walking, take one of the two main trails. Experienced hikers can take any of the side paths off the main trails for a more difficult hike.

The park’s trails provide views of both glaciated and driftless terrain. This park has mature trees, limestone outcrops, seasonal blooming wildflowers, and mushrooms growing in the forest’s shady areas.

Cross Plains Interpretive Loop Trail

The Cross Plains Interpretive Circle Trail is a one-and-a-half-mile lightly trafficked loop trail. The trail’s entrance is located off the parking lot close to the gate. This trail is frequently used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.

The Cross Plains Interpretive Loop Trail links with the Cross Plains, Wilke Gorge, and Wilke Homestead Loop Trails. These combine into the Main Loop Trail. The Main Loop Trail is a two-mile lightly trafficked loop trail. Hiking, running, and snowshoeing are popular activities on this trail.

The Main Loop Trail has footbridges to cross as it climbs to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill, two buildings appear to be placed in the middle of the trail. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the Main Loop Trail and the side trails at this point. The Main Loop Trail continues between the buildings.

Take one of the side trails here for a moderate but more secluded hike. None of the side trails loop back to the main trail.

The Blue Mounds, privately-owned Lake Katherine, and portions of Dane County are visible from points along both trails. The trails provide a stunning perspective of the gorge, which runs along the park’s eastern border. Blooming wildflowers can be seen along this trail in the spring and summer.

Cross Plains State Park Trail Map

There is no map of the two main trails that are located entirely within Cross Plains State Park. Here is information and a map showing the Cross Plains segment as part of the Ice Age Trail.

Golf Courses Near Cross Plains State Park

Unplug from everyday stress

Cross Plains State Park is only a short drive from several top-notch golf courses, making it a great destination for golfers. Here are our favorites:

Pleasant View Golf Course

  • Location: 1322 Pleasant View Rd, Middleton, WI 53562
  • More Information: https://www.golfpleasantview.com/
  • Cross Plains State Park is a nine-minute drive from Pleasant View Golf Course.

Hawk’s Landing Golf Club

  • Location: 88 Hawks Landing Circle, Verona, WI, 53593
  • More Information: https://www.hawkslandinggolfclub.com/
  • Cross Plains State Park is about an eleven-minute drive from Hawks Landing Golf Club.

Norsk Golf Club

  • Location: 2755 Norsk Golf Bowl Rd., Mount Horeb, WI 53572
  • More Information: https://norskgolfclub.com/
  • Cross Plains State Park is about a twenty-minute drive from Norsk Golf Club.

University Ridge Golf Course in Verona

  • Location: 9002 County Road PD, Verona, WI 53593
  • More Information: http://www.universityridge.com/

Cross Plains State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are permitted in the open areas of the DNR land south and west of Old Sauk Pass Road during Wisconsin’s hunting and trapping season. Trapping is not allowed in closed areas, near designated use areas, or on the trails in Cross Plains State Park.

Both trapping and hunting are permitted on Dane County land and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property.

Hunting is not allowed on the DNR land north of Old Sauk Pass Road or on National Park Service land. Certain types of traps are only permitted for use throughout the park.

The Cross Plains State Park Hunting and Trapping Map has all the details about the hunting and trapping guidelines. Check with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for licensing requirements.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Plains State Park in Winter

Cross Plains State Park is a popular destination for snowshoeing, winter hiking, and backcountry skiing. There are no cross-country skiing trails within the park. The mild terrain of Cross Plains State Park makes these winter sports accessible to people of all skill levels. Wear bright orange while out in the park during the winter so that hunters can easily spot you.

Cross Plains State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

If your dog isn’t microchipped, tags are a good idea. If you do lose your dog, you can contact the Dane County Humane Society at (608) 838-0413.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Other animals like deer, red fox, coyote, squirrels, and beavers. Black bears, cougars, groundhogs, and wolves have all been spotted at Devil’s Lake.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails
  • No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.

Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply

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Restaurants near Cross Plains State Park

The closest place to eat near Cross Plains State Park is in the town of Cross Plains. Here are some of our favorites:

The Hilltop

  • Location: 4173 County Road P, Cross Plains, WI
  • More Information: http://thehilltopcp.com/
  • Cuisine Style: American/Bar

The Hilltop is a traditional Wisconsin supper club that boasts a wide menu and a lively environment. Locally known for their Friday Fish Fry, Filet Mignon and handmade pies are a couple of other specialties.

Vessel Cafe

  • Location: 1820 Main St., Cross Plains, WI 53528
  • More Information: https://www.facebook.com/vesselcafecp/
  • Cuisine Style: American

The Vessel Cafe is a cheerful place with a welcoming environment and a large seating area. Breakfast sandwiches and baked goodies are served at this family-friendly restaurant. Sandwiches such as Shrimp Po Boy and Beef Brisket are served here.

Montag’s Pub and Grill

  • Location: 1821 Main St, Cross Plains, WI 53528
  • More Information: https://www.facebook.com/montagspubandgrill/
  • Cuisine Style: American/Bar

Montag’s Pub & Grill is a family-run diner that serves pizza and burgers for lunch and dinner. Standard Wisconsin dinners are also served. In the summer, there are indoor and outdoor dining options, as well as live entertainment.

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