Traveling to Wisconsin - SOTA Recommendations?

I am traveling to Wisconsin by Amtrak and renting a car when I arrive. I plan to be there from 28 June 2018 until 09 July 2018. I already have Blue Mounds and Holy Hill on my list of likely activations. Any recommendations on summits that can be accessed in a rental car? (No unpaved roads and short hikes). I will start in Milwaukee then up to Appleton for several days, visit the Door Peninsula, then to La Cross, with a return to Milwaukee to begin the train home. I will have my Kenwood D72A (APRS AA0BV-2) and my KX3 with me.

W9/WI-037 - Gibraltar Rock is a short hike (1mi or so each way if you start at the TH closest to the summit) and has nice views of the valley below. W9/WI-004 - Rib Mountain also has nice views and is a drive-up. Beware the weekends as it can be busy.

1 Like

Depending on how far you’re willing to drive, I suggest the following summits. Check the SOTA mapping to get an idea of where these summits are relative to each other and your planned journey.

  1. Platte Mounds, WI-017. Do this as a second summit the same day you do Blue Mounds. I posted notes on access. Essentially, park at the base of the big white stone W - there is enough space for 2-3 cars- go up the stairs, then follow the trail to the summit. The stairs will be the most strenuous part; the trail is short and scenic.

  2. Gibraltar Rock, WI-037. Park at the Ice Age trail head and take a short hike to the summit. See notes other have posted regarding access for details.

  3. Sauk Point, WI-013. See the article posted by I can’t recall if High Point Drive is a gravel road, but you need drive only 100 yards or so on it to get near the AZ. From there it’s a short walk.

There’s three 2 point summits near LaCrosse, but 2 haven’t ever been activated so not sure whether they would meet your access criteria. The third one has been activated but isn’t recommended because of permissions required to access private lands; see the notes.

Have fun on your trip; hope to get in your log!

73 Paula k9ir

Many thanks for these recommendations. We will be traveling thru WI for 10 days. We will try to get to many of them. My xyl and favorite chaser KE6UVR Is with me and she will chase me on the vhf portion of my activations. I intend to use APRS as AA0BV-2 while we are in WI so give me a shout if you see me driving nearby!!

Many thanks for these recommendations. We will be traveling thru WI for 10 days. We will try to get to many of them. My xyl and favorite chaser KE6UVR Is with me and she will chase me on the vhf portion of my activations. I intend to use APRS as AA0BV-2 while we are in WI so give me a shout if you see me driving nearby!!

You also could do Platte Mounds on your way back from LaCrosse, assuming you are ultimately headed back to Milwaukee to return home. I did Platte and Blue Mounds in one day. I didn’t realize how far west Platte would take me - practically to Iowa! - but made it back in one (rather long) day to the Chicago area. The roads are 2 lane but fairly scenic, as is much of WI. You and the XYL will enjoy it!


While traveling through WI, there are two open linked repeater systems you should be able to access which will give coverage throughout most of the state. WECOMM is a VHF system with its website at WECOMM Voice Network . The FM38 UHF system has its website at FM38 | HomePage . You may find SOTA chasers who monitor these repeaters.

I will be at my cabin in Eagle River, WI, in the far north about 20 miles south of the WI/MI state line, from July 10th through July 19th. I have activated SOTAs there and up in the UP of MI. I have had fairly good luck using my D72 HT to spot myself via APRS2SOTA.

Will look for you from my home QTH in Los Angeles.


I’ll second (third?) Gibraltar Rock; easily my favorite hike in southern WI. Blue Mounds is a nice state park with a pair of observation towers (and is visible from Gibraltar on a nice day) Sauk point is a gravel road, but should be fine for a rental. Happy Hill is a roadside activation for easy points.

Rib Mountain is another easy Hill in Wausau. Depending on how far north you want to go, Lookout mountain and Timms Hill (state highpoint) are about an hour north of Wausau. I’ve been able to do Rib, Timms, and Lookout in a single day driving from Madison.

Platte mound has some nice views, but the stairs can be hard on the knees (at least my knees). The Illinois highpoint Charles Mound (non-SOTA) is a short drive from Platte if you are interested in that, but be sure to check the high pointers website before you go for access dates.

Timms Hill W9/WI-001, as mentioned, is in a county park with a short .25 mile trail to the summit. There is a lookout tower one can climb but since the site is popular with tourists one can set up at the tower base. Another easy SOTA in Northern WI is Sugarbush Hill W9/WI-002, a drive-up. In the same day, one could then continue north for about an hour to Iron Mountain, MI to activate Pine Mountain W8M-UP-027, a drive-up located above a ski area in a Veteran’s Park. There are covered picnic tables here so one could operate if it is raining. The WWII Glider and Military Museum is located at the turn-off to the site and a worthwhile stop. All three of these SOTAs have trees where one can hang a wire.

Thanks for all the great advice

Good luck with your activation today. Joe AA0BV

Tnx much. I needed some luck, as Tuesday’s effort just got me tied up in the undergrowth and fatigued form the heat ;-). Today went much better. I’ll be reviewing my tracks as part of an article to help future activators.

Hope you have fun with your WI plans.

73 Paula k9ir

Paula K9IR and N0MAP, and WA9STi and ND9Q - Many thanks for your suggestions for summits. I started at Holy Hill; then went to Rib Mountain, and Mosinee Hill; then to Blue Mounds, I crossed Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Appleton, out to La Crosse, then back to Appleton and finished in Milwaukee. What a beautiful state. I was traveling with my XYL (Ke6UVR) she is originally from Appleton and we had not been back since 1995. Although I was unable to get to all the suggested summits I had a great time on the summits I reached. I had forgotten about the mosquito population and the bug attacks did cut short a couple of the activations. My trip to Blue Mounds was the best of the summits - I can see why it has been activated so frequently! When I left Blue Mounds and headed for La Crosse I saw the sign for Taliesin and spent three hours there, I had previously visited Taliesin West and this was an unanticipated but excellent detour.
Many thanks! Joe AA0BV

Joe, glad that our suggestions worked out for you. Save the info on the unactivated summits for your next trip ;-). And yes, it is a beautiful state. I travel through WI quite a bit going to our cabin in the NW part of the state, but several summits have taken me to other side roads that have provided incredibly wonderful vistas.

73 Paula k9ir