Devil's Lake to Parfrey's Glen

Sauk City, Wisconsin 53583

Devil's Lake to Parfrey's Glen

Devil's Lake to Parfrey's Glen Professional Review and Guide

"Combing a state park trail and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, this thru-hike starts with sweeping bluff-top views at Devil’s Lake and ends with the intimate charms of the scenic gorge of Parfrey’s Glen.

Two of the most scenic hikes in south–central Wisconsin, the East Bluff of Devil’s Lake and Parfrey’s Glen, anchor each end of this route. Along the way, it skirts cliff tops and traverses a hardwood forest at the east end of Devil’s Lake State Park. Rolling east, it ascends through old fields and small wood lots to Sauk County’s highest point and long views stretching to Blue Mounds, 30 miles to the southwest."

Devil's Lake to Parfrey's Glen Reviews

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon7 Total
I can't express how glad I am that I finally found some more challenging terrain within a four-hour drive of Chicago--Devil's Lake has stone staircases and even real talus for the more adventurous off-trail hiker. I confess that we did not do this entire hike, although I was certainly in the mood that day. Instead, after hiking southbound on the East Bluff trail as described, we made a clockwise circle using the Potholes "trail" (i.e. a set of steep stone steps next to the field of real talus I was just gushing about), the Grottos trail, and finally climbing the Balanced Rock trail to reconnect with East Bluff. The day after, we attempted to "summit" Sauk Point, the highest point in Sauk County, starting at the Parfrey's Glen trailhead. However, a GPS postmortem of our epic journey revealed that we had missed the peak itself. I forgot my topo map, of course... ;-) Like another reviewer, I was surprised that Devil's Lake trails are paved. I'm sure this helps maintain this high traffic area in good condition, but I was looking for adventure. And adventure means dirt. And sometimes even mud. (But not very often.)
This was a great day hike- did round trip from Devil's Lake campground to Parfrey's Glen. The glen is really beautiful- but had no waterfalls like the camp map had promised. Also, the trails can be confusing as there are many intertwined around the campground and one wrong turn can put you on a couple mile detour (like it did for me). All in all, great leisurely day hike.
Trails were pretty manicured. Was not the rugged, outback experience I was looking for but would be a great place to take the kids for the afternoon. Also a lot of people after early morning. We started early and was finishing as the masses hit the trails. I suggest going on off times or during weekdays if possible.
We did this trip in reverse, and it was quite a slog, but well worth it. The snow was mostly packed down, but some post-holing was involved. The first mile or so coming up out of Parfrey's Glen is totally demoraliazing, but the hike becomes much easier after that.
I took a wrong turn at the beginning and ended up hiking almost an hour on a road before I realized what I'd done. Devil's Lake and the glen (beginning and end ) were beautiful, but the trail was basically not interesting. Lots of rocks, roots, and buggy. I wouldn't do it again.
We have done a portion of this challenging hike. Parfrey's Glen is a really interesting geological sight. Take the Merrimac Ferry over for some extra fun.
Beautiful colors and a wonderful trail. The best part is on either end - Devil's Lake and Parfrey's Glen. The trails are well marked and easy to follow, however we found it hard to figure out what trails to take for the through-hike. If you don't have detailed maps of the area trails, then I recommend starting this through-hike from Parfrey's Glen - you won't get so confused then. The ice age trail has a fork from Devil's Lake and goes in two different directions - a detail left out of the guidebook. It meant we took the wrong one and almost two miles of a hike along the highway to get back on the right trail. So the guidebook could use some updating, but some more research on all of the trails in the area will easily solve that problem. It is a very nice hike that made us sweat on a cool November day!

Devil's Lake to Parfrey's Glen Photos

Trail Information

Sauk City
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
4 hours
April - October
Devil’s Lake State Park, S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo, 53913, (608) 356-8301; Ice Age Trail Alliance, 2110 Main St., Cross Plains, 53528; (800) 227- 0046;
Local Contacts
USGS Baraboo; Ice Age Trail segment map #29
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018