Devils Doorway

It didn’t take long before Illinois was in the rearview mirror and we were skirting around Madison, Wisconsin, heading north.  After three weeks in Illinois, we were ready to hit the road and explore a new to us State Park.

Devil's Lake State Park

The entrance to Devil’s Lake State Park and camper check-in

As we approached the entrance to Devil’s Lake State Park, we were quickly reminded about how lush and dense the vegetation grows here in the Midwest.  The trees created such a unique canopy that it blocked out any direct sunlight requiring the truck headlights be turned on.

Wisconsin State Parks

We’re in site #51 – the Quartzsite Loop

We proceeded slowly through the entrance following the signs directing us toward the camper check-in, ever hopeful that no tree branches would scrape our roof.  I was confident we wouldn’t have any problems with vegetation once we arrived at our campsite that I had reserved, heeding the wonderful advice and recommendation from Wisconsin State Parksour good friends, MonaLiza and Steve.

They camped here last year and found the majority of campsites to be unacceptable for their big rig.  They provided us with lots of helpful tidbits making our reservation decisions much easier.  Thanks guys!

I’m not a fan of trees near my RV, so I was thrilled to find all the trees at a safe distance.  Our site was also easy for us to level up.  The majority of sites are sloped in some form, making leveling a challenge.  There’s a handful of paved sites in the Quartzsite Campground and the rest are a gravel/grass combo like our site.

Devil's Lake

This is the road to the other campground loops.

On our first full day at the State Park, we set off on a hike in search of Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway.  I don’t know about you, but I thought the entrance to the park might have been Devil’s Doorway.  But alas, this unique rock formation is named Devil’s Doorway.

Devil's Doorway

Rock formation named Devil’s Doorway

To get to this scenic site required a little climbing on our part….. step climbing that is. Devil's Doorway We had about a 500 foot ascend in front of us.  Fortunately, we had a series of granite rock steps to aid us in the climb.  When the trail info listed this hike as difficult, I kind of dismissed any concerns.  After all this was Wisconsin, and I’m used to hiking in Colorado.  Thus, I thought difficult here would probably be more like moderate in the mountains.

Devil's Doorway

It’s all uphill

hikingI must admit, the trail did rival some Rocky Mountain trails, but what made this hike somewhat easier was the extra oxygen found here in the Midwest.

When we’re in Colorado, it’s not uncommon for us to hike at elevations exceeding 9,000 feet and the air starts to get a little thin requiring me to stop and catch my breath from time to time.hiking in Wisconsin

hiking in Wisconsin

The trail starts out flat meandering through a dense forest,

Hubby and I were impressed with ourselves.  Other than the occasional photo-op stop, no breathing stops were needed.  We did take it slow though, not wanting to lose our balance on the granite stone.

Our day started out sunny, but windy.  By the time we made it up to Balanced Rock, the winds had let up somewhat but storm clouds were brewing.

Balanced Rock

Al and I standing in front of Balanced Rock high above Devil’s Lake – Baraboo, Wisconsin

happy camper

Look who found a bench at the top of the bluff

We thought once we made it to Balanced Rock that the trail would level off…. wrong.  There were more steps to climb.  “We’re almost there, honey. Not much further and we’ll be at the top”, I said in a very encouraging and sweet tone.  Hubby responded with a disbelieving chuckle, “Yeah, that’s what you said 20 minutes ago”.

Alas, we made it to the top of the bluff and the trail flattened out.  Hubby even found a bench for us to sit while we hydrated.

With Balanced Rock checked off, I had one more quest that required a short detour off the main trail.  Ladies first!

Devil's Doorway

Hmm, I need to hike DOWN there? Going down to Devil’s Doorway.

What’s in a name?  The original Native American name for Devil’s Lake could have been translated as Spirit Lake, Holy Lake, Mystery Lake, or Sacred Lake.  But the Winnebago name “Ta-wa-cun-chuk-dah” was translated into Devil’s Lake by locals and legends were manufactured to boost tourism to the area.Devil's Doorway

The view was worth the climb via the precarious rock steps.  With photo-op quest number two accomplished, we worked our way back to the main trail and were met with a gentle sprinkle of soft raindrops followed by a steady flow.  My camera was safely stowed in a Ziploc bag and tucked under my raincoat.hiking in WisconsinAl and I quickened our pace on the flat trail.  The rain stopped just in time for us to descend.  However, the wet granite from the rain was now somewhat slippery.  So we continued with extra caution on each rock step and made it to the trailhead without any harrowing tale to share on the blog.  Just the way hubby likes it!hiking in Wisconsin

This was a wonderful 2 hour hike and probably our favorite Midwestern experience thus far.  Next up, feathers…. and lots of them!

NFL Green Bay Packers Clean Up Adjustable Hat, Dark Green, One Size Fits All Fits All
Moon Wisconsin (Moon Handbooks)




74 thoughts on “Devils Doorway

  1. What a gorgeous and unique hike! That granite stairway and the Devil’s Doorway formation are beautiful. You two really do look fit and happy. 🙂

    • Thank you Laurel. After some Midwestern food indulging, we’re ready to get back on our healthy eating plan and tackling those trails in the west.

  2. What a cool place. For me the trip up is not a problem as long as there are spots to take a short rest. The trip down may seem easy for many but for me that is where I need to make sure I have a sturdy walking stick. Of course if there were a slide, the trip down would be a blast.

    • Now that’s a great idea; a slide. Hiking down is sometimes rough on my knees but we just take it slow. A set of walking sticks would have served us well on this trail 🙂

  3. That’s a very pretty park and glad you had the opportunity to put your hiking legs in gear again. We are soon headed back to those 8-9k hills in New Mexico, and it will probably be a very rude awakening for me. Proud of you that you made it look easy! 🙂

  4. I didn’t realize WI had a hill that high. Being in the West for a month now I’m having the opposite reaction to you having gone from green to brown. Being used to hiking in the high altitudes, your lungs probably didn’t know what to do with all that oxygen you were breathing in.

    • You are so right Larry. Al and I kept looking at each other wondering why we didn’t feel the need to stop and catch our breathe. All that extra oxygen made a difference. Rather entertaining. We’re heading back west tomorrow 🙂

  5. Yeah you made it there! Aren’t those rocks something, I meant the one that fell over the lake? I missed that DDoorway although I got lost trying to find it following another trailhead on the other end of the lake.
    Glad you found a spot at Quartzite, those hanging trees are no fun.
    Steve says, too bad you did not make it to Parleys Glen 🙂 and he appreciates the shout out. Thanks

    • I reread your posts on Baraboo a few times and I really wanted to hike Parfrey’s Glen, but time and weather had other ideas. You mean the one that you pushed over LOL. It was a little tricky getting to DDoorway.but oh so glad I made it. We’re exploring quaint Door County and loving it.

  6. Looked like a wonderful hike. You are right about the oxygen levels even though you were climbing steeply. Amazing what extra oxygen does for one’s breathing:) Any hike with rocks is a great hike in my book:) Thanks for sharing! We went around this area when we were in Wisconsin.

    • Ah, next time through the Midwest you’ll need to stop. This place definitely offers up some “John and Pam” trails. Even Steve Lowes says the trail at Parfrey’s Glen was some of his favorite hiking. The extra oxygen made a HUGE difference. In CO I would’ve been huffing and puffing.

    • Tons more hiking and Parfrey’s Glen is supposedly not to be missed. We ran out of time and cooperative weather or we would’ve explored. I think you guys would enjoy this place.

    • And it was quite the trail to get to – short trail but rather step. Definitely worth the challenge, but hubby decided I should tackle it alone while he saved my spot on the bench 😉

  7. We have talked about heading into WI next Spring & Devil’s Lake State Park was one of the stops we discussed. So happy to have read your blog post on it so I can make note of some of the information within. Are you planning a visit to The Dells too since you are in the area? I’ve heard that quite beautiful in Autumn. Looking forward to reading more on your visit.

    • Right now we’re in Door County and loving it. This area looks like the perfect place to take in fall colors. We unfortunately need to head back west at the end of the week or we would definitely hang around for the leaves. The Wisconsin Dells is VERY commercialized and not our thing; bring a thick wallet if you do visit. We were in Baraboo just ten minutes south and found the area in general to have some beauty. It all depends on what you like to do. Big thumbs up for Door County!

      • I have heard that Door County is very scenic. I was told I would like it since I love the Traverse City, Leelanau County area of MI & that they were very similar. That alone makes it an area of WI I’d like to visit one day. I hope you write a post on it.

        • If you like northern MI, then I know you’ll enjoy Door County. If it weren’t for a family thing in CO, we would hang around for fall colors. Some of the trees are already showing signs. I’m always behind on my posts, but I assure you there will be one on Door County 🙂

    • Thanks Nancy. The past several weeks around family and friends have messed with the eating plan, but we’ll get refocused here shortly. After tomorrow, it’s back to just hubby and me and we’ve agreed to go hardcore Paleo. We feel so much better when we stick to the guidelines. Amazing what a difference good nutrition makes.

    • With all our traveling, we’ve determined many states have hidden gems. We’ve been pleasantly surprised more times than we can count and Wisconsin (a state I frequented as a child on summer vacations) has not disappointed 🙂

    • I can see coming back here in September sometime (which was the original plan this year, but life happens). Between Wisconsin and Michigan the fall colors are fabulous and rival the northeast plus tick and mosquito season are over…. bonus = lighthouses in Door County 🙂

  8. I’m with you on staying away from trees around the RV, Ingrid…especially after seeing Glen Arbor.

    The trail with the stairs reminds me of Acadia N.P. in Maine. And I see the Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign in your one photo. I’ll have to check that trail out!

    • I didn’t do my homework on the area or trail system as I was pretty focused on accomplishing two things while here; hiking to the 2 rock formations and visiting cranes up the road. I’m a very happy camper 🙂
      And yes, we try never to park near trees and we almost always have our awning retracted. We’ve learned from others mistakes!

    • I was so glad the weather held out long enough for me to catch some photos of both rock formations. And the hike challenged us more than we thought it would.

    • That’s one thing you’ll find here that’s not seen in the west; incredibly lush, dense, green forests. Stay tuned for those feathers.

    • Yes, hubby was particularly happy to relax on that bench after the uphill climb. This hike was a fun find for us considering we’re in Midwest where things are pretty flat.

    • We initially intended to take another trail down but after running into a young couple who had just come up that way, they recommended against it due to the steepness. Add in the wet trail and we recalculated. All part of the fun!

  9. Devils Lake is an amazing State Park, our Boy Scout troop camped there several years ago. We climbed most of Saturday and had a great time. Saturday nights temps fell into the mid 30s and I slept like a baby in my tent. We didn’t take the hike you and Al did, but it looks like a lot of fun. Glad you are having a great time here – it will make you appreciate the western scapes and weather that much more! Have a great day.

    • What a perfect park for a Scout outing and we slept equally as well (although it was thankfully warmer than what you experienced). There were several other trails I wanted to try as well, but time and weather didn’t cooperate. Perhaps another trip back to the Midwest is in order 🙂

  10. Ah, the soft green of the Midwest. How’s the humidity? What do you think of all these places named after the devil, all across the country. Kind of a one-track collective thought at the time of western expansion?

    • The lush, green, dense vegetation adds a beauty unique to this part of the country. The bugs and humidity come and go. The humidity was pretty rough in Illinois but much better in Wisconsin. We’re exploring beautiful Door County and having a devil of a good time 😉

  11. I know exactly where you are! Illinois is my home state and I’ve spent many a time in Wisconsin at relatives homes and a resort in the north. Loved looking at your trees reminding me of home. 🙂

    • I think for all of us (former) Illinoisans we share childhood memories of vacations in Wisconsin. It’s been a great time rediscovering this state. Today we’re exploring Door County 🙂

    • It was so much fun discovering the rocks and elevation gain in WI. Obviously something we’re used to seeing in the west but was a pleasant surprise to find in the Midwest.

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