Governor Dodge State Park
Governor Dodge State Park is located just off of route 23, less than an hour west of Madison, WI. The park comprises more than 5,000 acres of steep hills, sandstone bluffs, and deep valleys. This area is also referred to as the "Driftless Area" because it is not characterized by drift or accumulated rock and soil deposited by glaciers in the distant past. The park landscape and two lakes can be explored via the trail system.
Recreational opportunities include boating, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, bicycling, and hiking. A Wisconsin vehicle admission sticker is required to use the park and trail passes must be purchased to ride bicycles and horses on the appropriate trails. Only electric motors are permitted on both lakes and both boats and canoes can be rented at the Cox Hollow concession stand. Beaches and bathhouses are available on both lakes where no lifeguarding is provided. The Cox Hollow concession stand offers light lunch food, drinks, ice cream, snack foods, and T-shirts. Bring your own horse to roam the bridle paths on horseback. An overnight campground for horses is in the park for those wishing to stay more than one day There are several trail paths for hikers, offering a variety of routing for exploration since the trails intersect. All of these forms of recreation are described in the documentation given to campers when registering.
Since we camped at a site in the 300 area of the Twin Valley Campground, the first trail we explored started at a trailhead near campsite #305 and ended at the concession at Cox Hollow Lake. This section of the Meadowview Trail was well-marked so we could select the Cox Hollow Campground or the concession as our destination. Next we hiked to Enee Point via the Pine Cliff Trail which connected to the Lakeview Trail. The Pine Cliff Trail is considered of moderate difficulty although there are steep climbs on rocky paths.
On our second day of hiking, we drove to the Uplands Trail trailhead in the morning to walk the 2.5 mil trail loop. This trail winds through a great combination of prairie, woods, and hills. Follow all signs for the Uplands Trail and you will stay on the trail loop. After lunch we accessed the Stephens Falls Hiking Trail from the trailhead along the park road near the park office. The Stephens Falls Hiking Trail is a wide, paved trail to the falls. To get closer to the falls, you hike down a fairly steep hill with a sturdy handrail to help you navigate the rocky path. The trail continues for a short distance past the falls.
There are several miles of other trails in the park that we did not have a chance to explore. Next time we visit this beautiful park we will hike more of these trails and report to you.
The Cox Hollow Campground offers approximately 130 sites with no electricity. According to the documentation we received, there are two shower buildings with flush toilets and two vault toilets in the Cox Hollow Campground. There is a dump station and trash receptacles within this campground.
The Twin Valley Campground offers 100 sites, mostly larger than expected with privacy due to trees and brush, supplied with electricity and about 40 non-electric sites. There are two buildings with flush toilets and two buildings with flush toilets and showers in the Twin Valley Campground along with three vault toilets. There is a dump station and trash receptacles along the park road as you approach the campground. Be sure to stop for water before entering the site area.
- Access Wisconsin State Parks Reservations to make a reservation at a Wisconsin State Park.
- Access Wisconsin DNR information.
- Access campground and trail maps at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/govdodge/maps.