To see Stephens Falls, take a short walk from the parking area located three-quarters of a mile northeast from the park entrance. Here, you will first see a stream fed partially by a nearby spring that emerges where the Platteville dolomite and St. Peter sandstone meet. It then spills over a cliff of St. Peter sandstone.
A waterfall can be defined as a cascade of water in a river or stream. It occurs when a river flows over a bed of rock that resists erosion, in this case it is the upper layer of St. Peter sandstone that was laid down when a shallow sea covered this area during the Ordovician era about 450 million years ago. Older, wind-deposited (and therefore less erosion-resistant) sandstone downstream was worn away by the water, creating a steep, vertical drop. Over time, continuing erosion of the sandstone caused the waterfall to retreat upstream forming a gorge (a narrow steep-sided valley or canyon). Hydraulic action occurs as the stream tumbles over the waterfall to crash onto the rocks below. This leads to the formation of a plunge pool below the waterfall as well as a cave-like formation known as a rock shelter behind the falling water. If you continue down the gorge trail about 1/8 of a mile, you may be able to spot some of the large dunes created when the wind deposited the sandstone here.
The earthcache coordinates will lead you to the base of the waterfall where you can find the plunge pool and can see a little bit of a rock shelter on the left hand side. However, you will notice that most of the waterfall maintains contact with a vertical wall of sandstone underneath. Therefore, Stephens’ Falls can be defined as a HORSETAIL type waterfall. Horsetail waterfalls are characterized by the constant or semi-constant contact the water keeps with the bedrock as it falls.
History: If you walk back to the Lost Canyon Trail and turn to the north, you will enter the area of the Stephens Homestead. Here you will encounter the Rock Spring House, built into the hillside in the 1850's. This cold spring water was used to cool the room where milk and other perishables were stored, before flowing out and going downstream to the falls.
To claim this earthcache, you must complete two requirements:
1. Calculate the height of Stephens’ Falls. To do this, get an elevation reading near the top of the falls (N43 01.674 W90 07.768), then repeat your reading at the bottom (N43 01.666 W90 07.748). Send me the readings and the calculated height of the falls in an email at the same time you post your found-it log. If your GPS is having trouble with this, send the readings you got anyway and estimate the height as best you can.
2. BRING YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA. Take a picture of yourself or your GPSr at the base of the falls. Post this picture with your log.
Things to know before coming here:
1. Governor Dodge State Park requests that you stay on the path at all times while seeking this earthcache.
2. There is a “stair” leading from the top to the bottom with a handrail. However, the steps are rocks. They are very irregular so take care going up or down.
3. This Earthcache is in a Wisconsin State Park and will require an annual sticker or day pass to access. Only paid campers are allowed in the park after 11:00 pm.
4. The Geocache Notification Form has been submitted to Kathleen Gruentzel, Park Superintendent – Governor Dodge State Park. Geocaches placed on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources managed lands require permission by means of a notification form. Please print out a paper copy of the notification form, fill in all required information, then submit it to the land manager. The DNR Notification Form and land manager information can be obtained at: http://www.wi-geocaching.com/hiding.
1. Roadside Geology of Wisconsin by Robert H. Dott, Jr. and John W. Attig
4. Great Wisconsin Walks by Wm. Chad McGrath