Viewlightenment at Ferry Bluff

Do you have a place out in nature that feels like a sacred temple to you? For me that place is Ferry Bluff State Natural Area. My parents have been taking me and my brother there for almost as long as I can remember and the bluffs there have special significance to me.

When entering the SNA, the road traces Honey Creek along the bluff wall until you get to the parking area where the creek meets the Wisconsin River. From there the best way to head is up. Before I even gain that much elevation I feel a rush of emotions- this is after all the trail I loved as a kid. After a single switchback and some steep strides I make it to the top of Cactus Bluff, the first stop on the way to Ferry Bluff. The forest makes way to a small, sandy prairie. But what really gets me is the view.


As with most days there were already several view enthusiasts up there when I made the hike on Saturday. I cannot say how much time I spent up there but I looked down from the bluff at every angle I could think of. I can say I know this place like the back of my hand but that is a lie. There is always something else to notice and it is worth my time to take it all in.

Looking west from Cactus Bluff

After a while it was time to move up higher. The view is just so much more “wow” the higher you go, and so I headed up to Ferry Bluff.

The view of Ferry Bluff partway up the trail from Cactus Bluff

The path continues on up the hills and is even steeper in spots than the first half of the trail. Some parts require climbing up some rockier terrain. One of the most beautiful parts is along a narrow prairie ridge.


Eventually the path horseshoes around to the top of Ferry Bluff and you realize just how low you were before.

Cactus Bluff looks like a little bump in the terrain from this view.

It was time to sit and enjoy the view.

Looking west from Ferry Bluff

The view is so much more incredible from up there. I can say I’ve felt some sort of “viewlightenment” every time I’ve been up there. On last week’s trip is was especially strong. Being up that high can bring upon a spiritual feeling in me. I think it has to do with how I can see all the details of a relatively large area at once. Below me were the river, the creeks, and all their islands. I saw eagles, human fishermen, and lowland forests. Beyond the riverway were the farms, towns, and Blue Mound. I was in the sky, not just staring up at it, but there was still an infinite stretch of space above me. When you see all of this at once it is hard not to appreciate the interconnectedness and beauty of the world since it is staring you right in the face. Soak it in.

I could have sat there all day.

After a while I knew I had to go back down. I was meeting my friend Nicholas shortly. He wanted to get outside too so I picked him up at his place nearby and we went up Cactus Bluff together. Views do not diminish when shared with others.

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