In Last Week's Travel Post I shared our second trip to the Wisconsin Dells area. We spent Saturday hiking the East Bluff Trail in Devil's Lake State Park, then we headed to the Dells to spend the night. The next morning we got an early breakfast and then headed out to hike a trail that our Upper Dells Boat Tour Guide told us about.
But before I tell you all about the trail, I have to show the fun Denny's where we enjoyed breakfast. It is a fifties retro style Denny's with statues of famous celebrities like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
The inside was all decked out retro style as well with turquoise and red vinyl and fun chairs and lighting. It's always more fun eating in a place like this!
Now, onto our trail. We were heading home today but we were up so early we decided we could hike one short trail before hitting the road. When we took the Upper Dells Boat Tour the previous weekend, our tour guide pointed to a beach on the river and said there was a trail behind the Chula Vista that leads to down to that beach. So when we got home, we looked it up on the Internet and decided to check it out the following weekend.
The Wisconsin Dells is a tourist trap and it costs money to do just about anything there, so finding a nature trail that is free and open to the public is a true gem! It is hard to find. I swear, they keep it a secret on purpose. To find the trail, just follow all the signs to Chula Vista Resort. There is a parking lot on the left of River Road and there will be a sign with a trail map there.
The Chapel Gorge Trail is an easy 1.8 mile loop. It is level all along the trail except for a short, steep part to lead you down to the beach.
When you start the trail it is a mix of shrubs and prairie grass, but looking ahead it appears you are about to enter a tunnel! It was so cool! I felt I was about to enter a mystical, magical place!
Inside this tunnel was a deep and dark forest. It was so gorgeous when we were there because all the pine trees and deciduous trees dropped most of their needles and leaves by then leaving a soft carpet of pine needles on the ground and dark bark as far as our eyes could see.
Yet, there were still just enough leaves left on the trees to still provide us with some color to enjoy.
Once we emerged through the darkest, deepest part of the forest, I could see the Wisconsin River and the Dells peeking through the trees. We decided to venture off the trail, to the edge of the Dells for a closer look.
The beautiful views reminded us of the boat ride we took just a week earlier.
My adventurous husband decided to climb down one of the rock formations to get a closer look at the water while I stayed up on top. However, it wasn't long before he called out to me that "Something was staring right at him". Immediately I started to fear it was a cougar, bear, or wolf, although I knew that was highly unlikely. Instead, he says "I see a goat". "A GOAT? What do you mean you see a goat? We don't have wild goats in Wisconsin." Well, now I had to climb down the side of the cliff to see for myself. And yes, it indeed was a goat! Do you see him standing under the rock formation (Dell)?
Now I was a little nervous, not that I'm afraid of goats, especially one without horns, but I wasn't sure if this was a lost, domesticated goat or a wild goat. The area we were standing on was very steep, as you can see in the photos below. I was afraid if we startled the goat too much, he could lunge at us pushing us over the cliff into the water below.
In this picture, you can see the edge of the cliff looking down into the water (filled with leaves) below.
Hubby of course was a little apprehensive too. We didn't know what to think. We've seen mountain goats in Utah and Colorado, but we've never seen what looked to be a domesticated goat in the wild before. I've since googled it since I've been home, and no, Wisconsin does not have wild goats anymore. The last one seen was in 1940. However, in order to get rid of invasive species of buckhorn, the DNR hired local goat herders to supply goats to feast off the plants. My guess, is this little guy somehow got away and was left behind. That's the only thing that makes any sense to me. But, I really have no idea and if anyone else knows the real answer, feel free to leave it in the comments below. I don't think the goat ran off from a farm because the Dells are so commercialized there really isn't any nearby (although there is plenty of farm land surrounding the Dells).
Hubby and I kept talking to the goat, keeping him calm, so we could get a good picture of him. Eventually hubby was able to get right underneath where the goat was standing, before he spooked and ran off.
Seeing a goat on our hike was certainly an unexpected surprise and one we will always remember.
My husband took a video of the whole experience and in the video he is laughing at me because I was acting afraid of the goat. My granddaughter Alethea saw the video and asked "Why is Mamy afraid of the goat?". We had just petted goats at a petting zoo we visited over the summer, so Alethea knew goats were not to be feared. I had to explain to her that I was standing on the edge of a cliff and I was afraid the goat might charge at me and I'd slip and fall.
Well after our adventure with the goat was over, it was time to head down to the beach. This area was steep and slippery because pine needles covered all the stone steps.
But the hike down was worth it for the views were gorgeous! It would be a nice spot to come to in the middle of summer and get your feet wet. I'm not sure how deep or safe the water would be for swimming.
After a quick stop at the beach we headed back to the trail and made our way back to the parking lot.
Here you can definitely see the loop in the trail.
Once back in our vehicle we decided to head down to the famous Chula Vista Resort and check it out. It is quite the complex. We walked both inside the hotel and enjoyed all the historic photographs, then we took their river walk right outside the hotel.
They have steps leading down to a private pier on the grounds, so of course we went to investigate. It was so beautiful and peaceful.
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