“Sweetest Day…what to do with my amazing husband? Road trip! We decided to head north to Wisconsin, to Devil’s Lake State Park, to get in some hiking, take advantage of the glorious weather and revel in Mother Nature’s changing colors. Awesome, breathtaking, beautiful, strenuous, peaceful…we truly made the right choice. Before we got to the park though, we made a quick trip to the North Leaf Winery. The wines are made on the premises with grapes sourced from California and South America, according to our server. We each selected 4 wines to sample. We liked a couple, but the ruby port, with its chocolate aroma and palate, was the best! Off for a quick lunch, then on to the park.
Now for the park…Founded in 1911, Devil’s Lake is the third oldest state park in Wisconsin, the largest and the most visited. This 9,217-acre (3,730 ha) state park is known for its 500-foot-high (150 m) quartzite bluffs along the 360-acre (150 ha) Devil’s Lake, which was created by a glacier depositing terminal moraines that plugged the north and south ends of the gap in the bluffs during the last ice age approximately 12,000 years ago. Devils Lake was so named because it is situated in a deep chasm with no visible inlet or outlet. The Ho-Chunk gave Devil’s Lake its name because it was said that the voices of spirits were often heard during the celebrations. Their name, however, was “Da-wa-kah-char-gra” meaning “Spirit Lake.” (Wikepedia)
There are 29 miles of hiking trails. We followed only 3 of them during our 2.5 hour hike around the entire lake. Our enthusiasm had us not only following the trails, but also climbing up and down the rock formations to catch multiple views from every side of the lake. My pedometer registered 7.3 miles at the end of our trek!
East Bluff trail (1.7 miles) A trail with periodic stone steps ascending; the most gradual way up the bluff (but still gains 500 feet elevation). This trail takes you through the woods with scenic vistas of the lake. Elephant Rock and Elephant “Cave”, and Devil’s Doorway are along the way. Getting down to lake level from this trail was grueling! It took us awhile, several backtracking moments, to find where we were supposed to make our decent.
Balanced Rock trail (0.4 miles) Steep climbing trail more like an uneven rocky staircase. Balanced rock is 3/4 way up, about 100 feet off the trail. A steep, rock stairway snakes its way down from the high bluffs. Scary and incredible at the same time, we arrived at the bottom without incident.
We worked our way around the south end of the lake locating the Tumbled Rocks trail (1.0 mile). The park’s most popular trail follows along the lakeshore winding through the boulder/talus fields at the base of the West Bluff. There are great scenic views from lake level. It was like walking through a valley of rocks from a Sci-fi screen set!
What a perfect way to spend our day together! We definitely want to return and follow some of the other trails, especially the West Bluff Trail which is even steeper than the East Bluff Trail. The views are supposed to be awe inspiring!!!