Ice Age Trail Devil’s Staircase Segment

Janesville, Wisconsin 53547

Ice Age Trail Devil’s Staircase Segment

Ice Age Trail: Devil’s Staircase Segment Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This hike combines two Ice Age Trail segments. It first passes through an arboretum along a country creek and then winds along the Rock River below sandstone cliffs and a collection of rocks resembling a giant staircase.

The namesake of this hike is a geological formation that lies at the heart of the route, a collection of large stones and rock shelves resembling stairs down a ridge into the Rock River. But this hike actually combines two distinct but connected segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: the Arbor Ridge and Devil’s Staircase Segments. With parking at either end, it works well with two vehicles or a bike ride back to the car, but its beauty makes it worth an out-and-back trek. The 160-acre Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum, a popular birding destination, is the starting point at the west end, while a railway corridor easement connects the trail to the ridge along the Rock River as it enters Riverside Park at the eastern end. The Ice Age Trail then continues through thcity of Janesville from there."

Ice Age Trail: Devil’s Staircase Segment Reviews

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I am NOT an experienced hiker - in face, this was my first hike since I was a teenager more than 30 years ago. I can't tell you how this hike compares to others. I CAN tell you I had so much fun last weekend that I'm going back today, and again later this week. If you start at JSOL, the first 1.25 - 1.5 miles are mostly downhill, and mostly single file dirt trails. It levels out near a stream and you go past a prairie section before heading uphill slightly for the next .75 miles or so. The JSOL/Arboretum section has several trails that split off and wind throughout - watch for yellow rectangles on trees at trail junctions to guide you along the primary trail. You cross a road (there's a small parking lot here if you want to do just half the route), than skirt the edge of a golf course before heading back into the trees. In season, there's a portapotty at the edge of the golf course. The next mile is the Devil's Staircase segment, and it's beautiful! Although youre within 50 yards of the golf course above you most of the time, you'd never know it. The Rock River is on your other side. From here to the end, plan on scrambling up and down - and up, and down - rock steps. Most are comparable height to standard stairs, but a few required a little extra oomph or a shoulder to brace on for my shorter friend. It ends with a longish stone staircase down to Riverside Park, where you can reward yourself with an ice cream cone, day and time permitting. This trail made me want to take up hiking. It's something an eager beginner can accomplish, but I think an experienced hiker would appreciate it as well.

Ice Age Trail: Devil’s Staircase Segment Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
2.5 hours
5 a.m.–11 p.m.
Season, 800-227-0046
Local Contacts
USGS Janesville West; Ice Age Trail Atlas; map boards on site
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018