Our Adventure of the week exploring Governor dodge State Park Near Dodgeville, Wisconsin
As usual, our Saturday morning started out just like any. Sara and I had talked about going to Governor Dodge sometime casually. I had been as a kid but not in my adult years and could not really remember the park. So, we decided to quickly load up the kids, pack a picnic, and head out to explore. This state Park is about an hour drive from Madison, WI (depending on where you are coming from).
We really didn’t have a game plan when we arrived to the park other than to do some hiking and maybe see the beach, if it wasn’t too busy and would allow us to social distance. This was a bit of a mistake as we got a little lost finding the right trail head. Our ultimate goal was to get to Stephens Falls.
Note: If you are going soon (you have to purchase your park pass
ahead of time online , if you haven't yet received it in the mail - you will need to write down your receipt information and place it in your
front window. See the DNR website for more information.
When we pulled into the park we parked at the Cox Hollow Lake parking area. So we brought up the trail map (shown below), to figure out how to get to Stephens falls. Embarassingly, I’m still not completely sure where the trail head to the Lost canyon trail starts but we ended up getting there. We walked from the parking lot towards the Cox Hollow campground area. Since there was no camping yet, we were able cut through one of the campsites and get onto the trail. (I think its named “lost canyon” for a reason, haha.)
The Lost Canyon Trail is a 3-mile loop trail from which you are able to access Stephens Falls. The large majority of the trail is wide and stroller friendly. There is a small section of the trail near stephens falls and following the creek that is rocky and would be challenging with a stroller. You could probably make it work with a jogging stroller or one with bigger wheels though.
Some poor planning on our part was that we didn’t feed the kids lunch before going out. However, Sara had some snack in her backpack that saved us. Be better than us and plan ahead. The kids did surprisingly well. To get to Stephens Falls you have to connect to that specific trail. The falls are gorgeous but definitely the most crowded part of the hike. There is a parking lot closer to the falls that is a 0.5 mile hike from the parking lot. To get down to the falls there is a steep rocky stair case.
After the 3 mile hike we sat on the grass near the Cox Hollow Lake beach. There was plenty of grass area where we could spread out and still keep distance from others. We had packed an easy picnic lunch for the kids and let them splash in the water. The lake looked so pretty and peaceful, it looked like the perfect lake to bring a kayak or SUP board.
After the kids were tired we decided to head home but then came up with the brilliant idea to get Sugar River Pizza for take out in Verona, WI on the way home. We love this pizza and the kids meals are $4. It’s a total win. Sugar River Pizza is right across the street from Wisconsin Brewing company which has a large lawn. We aren’t ready to indoor dining yet but this was a great compromise. There was plenty of space at Wisconsin Brewing for us to eat our pizza (they allow carry in food), social distance, and enjoy the beautiful night. The boys wore masks inside to get our beer and were able to spread out while ordering and come back to where we were parked out. It was the perfect end to a fun day!