When Rob Bignell thinks of spring wildflowers and Janesville, he thinks of the Devil’s Staircase segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
The 3.6-mile, round-trip trail features hillsides blanketed with wood anemones, Dutchman’s breeches and wild ginger in spring.
“There are some spectacular wildflower displays there now through the month of May,” Bignell said.
The hike is one of several in Rock County featured in Bignell’s new book, “Wisconsin’s Best Wildflower Hikes,” published this month by Atiswinic Press.
The hike also is one of the guide’s more than 100 hikes to see wildflowers across Wisconsin from spring through autumn.
In addition to Devil’s Staircase, Bignell recommends looking for spring flowers at Beloit’s Big Hill Park, which boasts among the best displays in Rock County, he said.
He also suggests a trip to Lee County Park in Clinton.
Lee County Park is unusual because hikers can see wildflowers from two different ecosystems, he said.
The park’s mile-long nature trail passes through a woodlands and alongside a prairie, then heads through an arboretum started in 1968.
Bignell, who owns and operates an online editing business, has written 30 hiking books since 2011, including the family-friendly series “Hittin’ the Trail,” “Headin’ to the Cabin” and “Hikes with Tykes.”
The guidebooks offer insight into day hiking trails in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, and national parks. “Hikes with Tykes” offers tips on hiking with children and on backpacking in general.
Families hike to have a shared experience and to get out into nature, Bignell said.
He created the “Hikes with Tykes” guidebooks based on experiences he had with his now 15-year-old son.
“My son and I had real positive experiences hiking with each other,” Bignell said. “There is a real bonding that occurs as we experience things we will always remember.”
Together, they have scaled summits almost two miles high, crossed U.S. deserts and walked under trees soaring 15 stories over their heads.
“Hopefully, my books will help spread the love of nature,” Bignell said.
The author, who lives in Dunn County, promotes hiking for good health and mental well-being.
“Being surrounded by nature benefits a person’s state of mind,” he said. “The reason I go outside is to relax and to get myself into a good frame of mind so I can come back in and take on the world again.”