With a lot of love given to southern Whitewater, WI and its vast trail system throughout the Kettle Moraine State Forest, there are other hidden gems to the north that deserve a day trip. Pack up your car and explore the outskirts of Whitewater and south-eastern Jefferson County on scenic drives, Rustic Roads, and through rolling countryside with plenty of pull-off points to hike, picnic, or explore.
Grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich from SweetSpot Cafe to-go and enjoy a leisure drive on Bluff Rd. through Whitewater’s woods and countryside. Once you reach the Kettle Moraine Oak Opening (an area of glacially-formed kettle holes, kames (conical mounds), and gravelly hills and ridges), plop down in the prairie grasses of the ridge with your coffee or meander the path of the Blackhawk Segment of the Ice Age Trail to immerse yourself in a forest of burr and black oaks.
Hop back in the car and take off toward Palmyra for WI-106. This 20min drive toward the Bark River Rd. wetlands passes rolling farmland and crosses over the Bark River. If you call and order before your day trip, pick up some cupcakes from KC’s Cupcakes and Cake just off 106. Once on County Rd. N toward Cold Spring, take a right on Bark River Rd. (Rustic Road #84) in Fort Atkinson and stick with it until the glorious end. Countryside suddenly becomes wet meadows, and then you’ll find yourself driving through a floodplain-wetlands forest between the Rock and Bark rivers. There are a few spots where you can park so you can get out and mosey for great photo ops. Mid-spring, look for geese and ducks with their babies. And if you happen to venture here around golden hour, you’re in for a treat!
Turn around at the Rock River Bait Box and head back to N for a short drive to Burnt Village County Park, a two acre spot on the banks of the Bark River where you can grill out, drop in a lure or kayaks, or simply picnic and enjoy the scenery.
The Rustic Roads system in Wisconsin began in 1973. This system offers numerous options for scenic drives on a slow afternoon or weekend. As you begin your trek back to Whitewater for dinner at Taco Fresco or La Piazza Pizzeria, enjoy Rustic Road #88 through countryside and woods with glimpses of beautiful barns and farmhouses under a canopy of oaks.
Be safe. Have fun! And happy driving!