Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 44.92080°N / 89.6944°W
Additional Information County: Marathon
Activities Activities: Hiking, Bouldering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 1924 ft / 586 m
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

Summit Rock on Rib Mountain Summit Rock on Rib Mountain
Rib Mountain (long ago “Rib Hill”) consists of an impressive ridge almost 4 miles in length that peaks at the summit of Rib Mountain (1924 ft above sea level). Rib Mountain is not the highest point above sea level in the state. That honor is due Timm's Hill (1952 ft above sea level). However Rib Mountain does stand higher above the surrounding terrain than any other summit in the state, rising nearly 750 above the Wisconsin River (approximately 1170 ft above sea level) near the eastern foot of the mountain. It is the most impressive mountain in the state. Depending on what source one chooses to refer to, official prominence runs from 630 feet to 740 feet. In an interesting misinterpretation, a local guidebook once claimed that Rib Mountain "towers 2000 ft above Wausau" -- a statement that clearly confuses "elevation", or height above sea level, with"relief"!
 
Rib Mountain West Slope Rib Mountain West Slope

Though this grand mountain is actually one of the oldest geologic formations on earth, Rib Mountain is not volcanic in nature, as the shape of the terrain might suggest from some angles. As local geologists like to point out, "Rib Mountain is not volcanic in any way, shape or form".  In reality, Rib Mountain is a large block of quartzite that has stood tall while the other sedimentary rock of the area has weathered away.

Rib Mountain snowy summit block Rib Mountain snowy summit block

In the pursuit of county highpointing, Rib Mountain is widely considered the hardest county (Marathon) highpoint in Wisconsin. While the scramble to the top of the quartzite outcrop is probably only class 3, it certainly beats the socks off of walking through a muddy corn field.

 

Since Rib Mountain State Park was established in 1934, the park has grown to nearly 1,600 acres. On the north side of the mountain is the Granite Peak Ski Area, one of the best ski runs in the midwest. The state park has developed shelters, an observation tower and decks, picnic areas and an amphitheater for the benefit of visitors.

 
Summit Tower on Rib Mountain Summit Tower on Rib Mountain
 
 
 
Rib Mountain summit plaque An erroneous plaque on Rib Mountain claiming it is the highest point in the state

Getting There

Rib Mountain State Park Entrance Rib Mountain State Park Entrance
The Yellow Trail on Rib Mountain The Yellow Trail on Rib Mountain

Take Exit188 from US 51 for Rib Mountain State Park (not Exit 190 for Rib Mountain Ski Area). Follow Rib Mountain Drive to the west towards the state park. There is a vehicle admission fee required for the park. You can drive almost the whole way to the top if you wish, or you may stop at either the Yellow Trail trailhead or take the paved walkway next to the road and hike up to the summit rock, which has a 60' observation tower next to it, as well as the USGS Benchmark nearby.

Red Tape

A typical trail junction marker on Rib Mountain A typical trail junction marker on Rib Mountain

Daily or annual vehicle admission fees are required to enter the state park. To avoid getting your car towed away, please be careful to park only in appropriate spaces. For the latest information on the entry rates, click on this link:

Rib Mountain State Park Fees

 

Springtime on Rib Mountain Summit Picnic Area Springtime on Rib Mountain Summit Picnic Area

Any other restrictions will be posted at the park. Additionally, COVID restrictions are in place at Rib Mountain and all other state parks in Wisconsin until the pandemic is over. For questions, call 1-888-936-7463, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. An alternate phone number is: (715) 842-2522.

When to Hike

Trailside Autumn Color Trailside Autumn Color

The state park is open for hiking all year.  However, careful hikers should check the latest weather conditions.  For the latest weather conditions and forecast for Rib Mountain:

Rib Mountain State Park – Wausau Area Weather Forecast & Conditions

 

Annual hunting seasons do affect portions of many Rib Mountain trails, thus may affect hiking plans. The map below, courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR, shows exactly what to expect. You may download a DNR pdf map at:

Rib Mountain State Park Hunting Information

Rib Mountain Hunting Map, courtesy Wisconsin DNR Rib Mountain Hunting Map, courtesy Wisconsin DNR

Trails & Maps

Rib Mountain Trails Map & Guide, courtesy Wisconsin DNR Rib Mountain Trails Map & Guide, courtesy Wisconsin DNR
 
There are 15 miles of trails shown on the Wisconsin DNR map, which range from gentle to challenging. You may download a DNR pdf trails guide and map, courtesy of the DNR, at:

Rib Mountain Trails & Guide

 

Red Trail Overlook Red Trail Overlook

While most hikers access the Rib Mountain State Park trail system through the state park, a few use the Turkey Vulture trailhead, located at the south end of Grouse Lane, which is accessible from County Road Nn (Exit 190 from US51). A few hikers also hike up to the summit area through the Granite Mountain Ski Area, also on Road Nn.

 
 

Area Camping

 

Rib Mountain Summit View of Wausau, WisconsinRib Mountain Summit View of Wausau, Wisconsin
Though Camping is no longer permitted in Rib Mountain State Park, there are a number of campgrounds nearby.  This city of Wausau provides a link for camping resources here:  

 

Rib Mountain Area Camping

Marathon County also provides a link for area camping:

Marathon County Camping Resources

External Links

 
 
 
 
 
 

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-3 of 3
Alpinist

Alpinist - Jan 21, 2016 2:43 pm - Voted 10/10

Broken links

Time to update this page! There are 5 broken URL links in it. Also, you can no longer camp in the park.

scramblingbadger

scramblingbadger - Oct 24, 2020 8:31 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Broken links

A newly-reworked Rib Mountain page has just been completed. Hope you will like it!

weeds19

weeds19 - Oct 26, 2020 3:55 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Broken links

Thanks for the great page update ScramblingBadger. I appreciate you reaching out to me, and the work you did to make the page better for the community.

Viewing: 1-3 of 3


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