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Devils Lake State Park, WI
Friday, August 3, 2001 - 7:00am by Lolo
144 miles and 2.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay
Too bad we hit Devil's Lake State Park on a Friday when the campgrounds were full because it would have been a great place to spend the night. The lake was very pretty--crystal clear water with 500-foot cliffs surrounding it and more than 30 miles of hiking trails to enjoy.
The park looked great, and after having driven more than 1,700 miles in the last 3 days, we really needed a day to just relax. So we grabbed our beach chairs and towels and settled down on the grassy beach at the north end of the lake. The sandy beach that is normally there was completely under water as a result of some recent heavy rains. The beach was a little more crowded than we like, but the water was great and it was good to just stay in one spot for a few hours.
After lunch, we set off on a hike along the West Bluff Trail, which went along the rocky bluffs and cliffs on the western shore of the lake. About 2 miles into the hike, we arrived at the sandy beach on the opposite end of the lake and took a dip before continuing our circumnavigation of the lake on the East Bluff Trail. Along the bluffs on the eastern shore, we came upon Balance Rock, a mammoth 12-foot high, arrowhead-shaped rock, teetering precariously on top of a flat rock. We took the obligatory photo of the boys pretending they were holding up the rock, which actually moved a bit when they leaned on it. Then back to the north beach, another quick dip, and we were on our way to find a place to stay for the night.
We called Baraboo Hills Campground and found that they had a few sites open. The boys were pretty excited because the Campground Guide listed all kinds of great recreational opportunities, like mini-golf, rental carts, etc. We got there at 7:55, just in time to watch the campground staff closing up all the recreational equipment. Great. Undaunted, we headed to the heated pool which was open until 10:00. I've never seen a more crowded swimming pool in my life--people standing in the water shoulder to shoulder. In the midst of this mass of humanity, some guys were actually attempting a game of football. The kids found this very amusing and spent their time lying on their backs on the bottom of the pool with their face masks on watching the chaos going on above them.
A good time was had by all. We were relaxed and refreshed and ready for the final push home.
Devil's Lake State Park is in Baraboo, Wisconsin, 14 miles south of the Wisconsin Dells. It is located along the Ice Age Trail, which traces the glacial ridges of Wisconsin for hundreds of miles.
Back in the late 1800s, train tracks ran along the shores of the lake bringing guests to the elegant hotels lining the shore. The hotel era ended in 1904 and few traces of it remain. Now people come to enjoy the natural beauty--the 360-acre, crystal clear Devil's Lake and the beautiful 500-foot cliffs that surround it.
Today the park is popular for many outdoor activities, such as swimming, boating, scuba diving, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and even rock climbing. There are two large, sandy beaches, one at either end of the lake. There are more than 29 miles of hiking trails, including the West Bluff Trail and East Bluff Trail, which go along the rocky bluffs and cliffs around the entire lake. There are many interesting rock formations to explore, including Balanced Rock and the Devil's Doorway.
The park is extremely popular, so the 406 campsites in the park fill up quickly during the summer.
Devils Lake State Park location map in "high definition"