Hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park | Wisconsin’s Largest State Park

I’ve ended the last weekend of the “summer months” with a bang! I’ve finally crossed off another item on my [summer] bucket list and visited Devil’s Lake State Park. Devils Lake State Park is the largest state park in Wisconsin, located northwest of Madison, near the Wisconsin Dells. Being outdoors amongst the woods has always been one of my favorite places growing up, and I met up with another fellow blogger for the first time who runs This Big Wild World! (Talk about a fantastic “first date” as you’ll see from the images below.) She recently came back from hiking the Inca Trail in Peru! Needless to say… she kicked my a-double s.

Devil's Lake State Park Wisconsin

We began our little trek with a stroll towards the southern end of Devil’s Lake. The view from the the railroad tracks was beautiful. Devil's Lake State Park | Wisconsin

Before we even got to the main trails… we found a little friend. Couldn’t tell you the name of this snake (Frank? Tom? Maybe he’s a George.), but he was pretty large! Thankful for the zoom on my camera lense; we were a couple feet away and just leaned in to snap a few shots.

Devil's Lake State Park Wisconsin

Balanced Rock Trail

Our first hike was Balanced Rock Trail: a short, but rather steep trail. It was less than half a mile long, but was quite difficult since most of the trail consisted of stepping/climbing up rocks of varying size and shape. I snapped this picture below at a relatively calmer spot on the trail.

 

Devil's Lake State Park | Wisconsin

 

Devil's Lake State Park | Wisconsin
A much better picture, courtesy of This Big Wild World, of the rocks we had to climb.

Alas, we did successfully make it to the top. And the view of the lake was so worth it!

Devil's Lake State Park | Wisconsin
Shout out to the frat boy that took this picture. Sweaty mess at the top!

Devil's Lake State Park Wisconsin

 

 

Devil's Lake State Park | Balanced Rock Trail | Wisconsin

 

Most of the way up, we were nice and stood way off to the side to let the (clearly tired) hikers go down easily and smoothly. Once it was OUR turn to descend the hike? We (okay definitely me. I was the grumpy one) forced some people to move off to the side. I actually had to tell a kid (teenager?) to move over. Being naturally clumsy as all hell, no way was I about to risk my life for some inconsiderate jack—!  I even yelled at some kids RUNNING UP. (Seriously, where were their parents, and where was their concern for other hikers?!) Believe me, the fierce sass (or attitude?) was unleashed on our descent.

 

Balanced Rock | Devil's Lake State Park Wisconsin
The lovely balanced rock itself. In all its glory.

Balanced Rock does look really cool…when you’re viewing a picture on your computer screen or mobile device. I was really quite disappointed how little and unimpressive it was for as rough a hike as that was. Even if you do have buns of steel from climbing (or doing the stairmaster), it’s still pretty little. The view of Devil’s Lake itself was much more magnificent than the rock. So… do it for the lake! And let the rock be a nice added bonus. 🙂

 

Grottos Trail

Grottos Trail at Devil’s Lake State Park is much calmer than Balanced Rock Trail. Just less than a mile through the gorgeous greenery. We took our time really soaking everything in. Plus, my poor shaky legs had to recover!! Easily assumed, this trail has “grottos” which are cold air sinks among the rocky bluff. I was disappointed that we didn’t find any, though I didn’t quite know WHAT to specifically look for. Looking back, I’m not sure I’d crawl into a little rocky hideout…. What would I find there: spiders? Snakes? No thanks!

Devil's Lake State Park | Wisconsin

 

Devil’s Lake State Park was absolutely gorgeous in the summer, even though it was a gloomy day during our visit. I can only imagine the scenery during fall when the leaves change colors.

Hiker's Guide to Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin, USA

 

56 Comments

  1. This spot looks and sounds awesome. We were looking for good hiking spots outside of Madison this summer and opted to go caving instead. Next time! And did you notice a lot of kayaking/boating rentals around the lake? That’s our other go-to.

  2. I have to say, that hike looks tough! And with snakes on the way, i would be completely freaked out, not sure this kind of trail is something I would want to attempt. Bravo! Must’ve been fun to do it with a fellow blogger 🙂

  3. Lisa

    Shouting at a kid to get off the trail, surely that messed up the tranquil feeling you felt at the top, ha! This looks like such a peaceful place, and really close to nature. I’m no hiker, but I’d like to give this a try. Why is it called Devil’s Lake?!

  4. What a pretty hike! That lake view looks great and I totally agree, the state park must look super in the fall with all of the leaves changing colors. How fun to meet up with another blogger! I love when you meet someone face-to-face that you know from the online blogging world. Isn’t it great to have a hiking buddy to keep you motivated during the tougher parts of a hike?!

  5. Oh wow I am impressed by the landscape! Seriously the US should promote these areas abroad, that’s a side we never get to see and I bet it’s the real country side, no? That’s such a gorgeous hiking trail, I know I would enjoy my time there for sure. btw the snake really looks interesting, I can’t say what variety it is.

  6. Monika

    It is always cool to team up with other bloggers for excursions. I am always excited to do so ! Have not been to the US yet but seems like there is loooot of things I should see if I come. Like 6 months of intense sightseeing, right ? The grotto trail looks challenging and nice !

  7. Ada

    How awesome that you got to meet some other traveller on your hike! Devils Lake State Park look amazing! Both routes seems really cook and pretty.
    I really miss hiking but I am really glad Ive never got to see any interesting snakes on my way! This one looks pretty scary haha it gave my goose-flesh 😀

  8. I love to fit in a hike every once in a while on my travels. Helps me feel more alive to be in the outdoors, and I also have less guilt for all the eating we do! Looks like you had a great hike, with lots of nice views, even if the rock wasn’t all that amazing.

  9. Miranda, you do you realize my USA list grows every time I read one of your posts, and Wisconsin is right now where I’m going to spending most of my time haha – I do love this post though, and were you tempted to get closer to the snake or was that close enough 😀 I do love when I’m on hikes and coming across rocks that have fallen in the weirdest positions 😀 – Looks like I would have a great time here 😀

  10. This looks like a gorgeous place to hike! I too can get very frustrated at people who are inconsiderate or have no spacial awareness when hiking. I always feel like the fuddy-duddy in a group, so I’m glad it’s not just me. Looks like an awesome hike to Balanced rock, though!

  11. Haha you remind me of my best friend: she’s one of those get-off-my-lawn people. We took her on a hike and on the way down, she screamed at some kids that were also being rude and running up, blocking the entire path. I’m excited you were able to cross off another item off your summer bucket list! What an accomplishment! You go girl!!

  12. Amy

    How fun is it that you got to meet up with someone who shares your passion?? Aside from the snake, this looks like an incredible hike. I love a good challenge, and a scramble is tough, even a short one! Would absolutely tackle this if we make it to Wisconsin!

  13. Looks like a lovely spot for a hike at this Devils Lake State Park. That black rat snack is found in Ontario too I think! They are big – glad it didn’t dissuade you from enjoying your hike at the lake.

  14. Megan Jerrard

    Devil’s Lake State Park sounds fab – haha my husband is a wildlife photographer and loves taking photos of snakes – admittedly I’m also very glad in these instances for the invention of a camera zoom! Balanced Rock does look cool, though good to note that you don’t think it alone is worth the rough hike. Grottos Trail looks beautiful – some lovely scenery throughout the park – thanks for sharing your insights from your visit.

  15. That black snake looked like it’s just eaten a hearty meal. Just the sight of that photo makes me squirm. The Balance Rock Trail looked challenging, and I’m glad you still enjoyed the beautiful lake view at the top…with the added bonus. 😀 Well, they say it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Haha!

  16. I’m always amazed at how some parents just let their kids run wild in places like these. I’m glad you said something! It seems overall you had a great hike though, and so fun to do it with a fellow blogger. I love doing things with other bloggers because you can stop and take as many photos as you want without feeling judged lol!

  17. This looks like a great place to hike and the views look amazing. I have done a few of the state parks and national parks in the US and they are really well set up and signposted for hikes. I would love to get over and see more of the state parks and this one does look like a good one to visit.

  18. Congratulations on your grand ending for your summer months! I too, would have done the same. This is something I love to do too. I love hiking and always make it a point to do some hiking or trekking when I travel.

  19. I haven’t been to Devil’s Lake in years! We are from Chicago so it’s close enough that we should visit at least once a year but for whatever reason we never get to it. I think it’s time! Thanks for sharing!

  20. I’m not familiar with Devil’s Lake but it sure if pretty. If I happneed to see that snake (maybe it looks bigger from the angle you took the picture but it is BIG!), I would run like heck!! 😉 I just visitied Wisconsin for the first time this spring and only had 4-5 days there. So much still left to see!

  21. I can see why this park would be on your bucket list, it looks gorgeous! The only thing I’m not so keen is the snake (Frank? George?)… if I’d encountered him I’d run up the Balanced Rock Trail in seconds!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. This is a beautiful hike! I’d love to give it a go. Too bad you were disappointed by the balancing rock. Hate when that happens 🙁 Any snake gives me the creeps, I run into a lot of rattlesnakes here in Arizona!

  23. You have cool hiking adventure. The hiring trail is great with a nice lake view but that snake scares me a lot. If I were in that situation seeing a large snake, I would probably do sprint running!!

  24. The Devils Lake State Park looks like a pretty exciting place for hiking. I loved the rocky landscapes. I am always intrigued by the various rock formations that nature has carved out. The best part is of course the view of the lake once you reach your destination. It gives such a feeling of achievement. Nice pictures bring alive the beauty of the place.

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