Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Devil's Doorway

A few weeks ago I set out to hike around Devil's Lake and ended up adjusting my plans due to a thick layer of hard packed ice and snow covering steep, rocky portions of the trail. Today I headed back to hike around the lake and check out the Devil's Doorway.

Devil's Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin, and one of the busiest. Although the Wisconsin landscape can sometimes be rather barren once the leaves fall, Devil's Lake is amazing - beautiful at every turn and in all seasons.  The park is 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI. It contains approximately 29 miles (46.7 km) of hiking trails. The trails that ascend the bluffs are of a moderate to strenuous level of difficulty, the Tumbled Rocks Trail is easy.

Potholes Trail.

Rock stairway heading down to the South Shore.

The beach.

Although my gps lost power about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) into the hike, I estimate the route I took was about 5 miles (8 km). From the North Shore, I headed up the East Bluff Trail, swung over to the Balanced Rock and Devil's Doorway Trails, then headed to the Potholes trail, down to the Grottos Trail, across the beach to the Boardwalk Trail, then along the road and over to the Tumbled Rocks Trail. The hike across the beach and over to the West Bluff made for a short stint on the 1,000+ mile (1609 km) Ice Age Trail.

With the temperature at 24°F (-4.4°C), flurries flew on piercing winds but did not accumulate. This usually busy park had fallen silent. I ran into only one other hiker. This time of year I typically don't run into other hikers, but with this park being one of the busiest in the state, to run into only one other is quite unusual. Snow flurries decorated the colorful quartzite boulders, but did not accumulate. Most of the slick ice that plagued my last visit had disappeared.

Flurries land on quartzite boulders on the East Bluff.

Tumbled Rocks Trail.

A Vehicle admission sticker is required for visiting Wisconsin State Parks. The sticker may be purchased annually, or for short visits a short term sticker may be purchased. For maps of the hiking trails, and more information about Devil's Lake State park, visit the Wisconsin DNR website.

I completed the loop back to the starting point; however, I lost power on my tracking device about 2/3 into the hike.

Distance covered - my device lost power at 3.5 miles (5.6 km), I estimate I covered 5 miles (8 km)

Trail conditions - cold with light flurries, dry trail with only an occasional spot of ice

Level of difficulty - strenuous on the East Bluff descent near the South Shore

Highlights - Devil's Doorway, gorgeous purple quartzite boulders, views of Devil's Lake and the West Bluff

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