Devil's Lake State Park
East and West Bluff Trails

High up on the west bluff

Hiking at Devils Lake seems overshadowed by all the other activities in the park and nearby. I've heard lots about the Wisconsin Dells, and how great the climbing is at Devils Lake, and I've noticed the beach is always packed during the summer, but I've never hear much about the hiking trails. That's a shame, because the hike along the bluffs is one of the most scenic hikes I know of.

The trail follows both bluffs, sometimes as high as 500 feet above the lake. Along the trail are amazing stone formations. In the fall the colors are spectacular, and the fall foliage can be seen for miles from the tops of the bluffs.
This is a must visit destination and a must hike trail for anyone living in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

From the junction of US Hwy 12 and WI 159 south of Baraboo Wisconsin, follow 159 east 1.3 miles to WI 123.
Take a right on 123 and head southeast 0.3 miles to the entrance on your right for Devils Lake State Park.
Follow the park road 0.5 miles to the first parking pullout on your right.
Note that you need a sticker to park in this parking lot. If you need to purchase one, continue along the park road to the entrance station at the bottom of the hill, then continue following the park road till you reach WI 123 again. Take a left on 123 and loop back to the road where you first entered the park.
Coordinates for the hike: 43.4289870,-89.7356200
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The paved parking pullout has room for about 10 cars. I've never had troubles getting a spot, but if you do you can continue down the hill and park down by the beach. The trail is a well marked loop, so it doesn't make too much difference where you park along the route.
Trail observations
The trails exits from the right side of the parking lot and heads steeply down to the lake. At the lake, take a left and follow the paved path as it goes between the rental building and the concession stand. The path will cross a road and then a railroad track, and end in a meadow with several burial mounds.
Head gradually away from the lake towards a parking lot - on the far side of the parking lot follow the signs to the East Bluff Trail. Follow the East Bluff trail as it climbs to the top of the bluff. Take the short side trail to the Devil's Doorway, then descend the bluff along the Potholes Trail. Note that the very steep rock steps on the descent can be slippery - wear grippy shoes and take your time.
Walk along the shoreline, through the picnic grounds, along a boardwalk, then along a sidewalk, and finally on the shoulder of the road till you reach the West Bluff Trail. Ascend the West Bluff Trail and follow it back to the parking lot.
Trail statistics
The trail is 6.01 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 463 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.00 miParkingParking lot
0.07 miTrailheadTrailhead
0.20 miGo leftBranch - go left along the paved path
0.59 miRoad and tracksCross the road and tracks, pass mounds to far side of parking lot
0.78 miEast BluffStart of East Bluff Trail on far side of parking lot away from the lake
0.87 miRight and upBranch - take the trail on the right and start ascending the bluff
1.08 miGo rightBranch - go right around the outcropping towards the lake
1.68 miStay rightBranch - stay right (map)
1.90 miGo leftBranch - go left
2.02 miGo straightIntersection - stay on the East Bluff trail along the edge of the bluff
2.21 miRight to DDTake a right down to Devils Doorway
2.26 miDDDevils Doorway
2.31 miTee rightTee - go right at the top of the stairs
2.34 miStay rightBranch - stay right and head down to the Potholes Trail junction
2.35 miGo rightBranch - go right and descend the bluff on the Potholes Trail
2.64 miTee rightTee - go right along the Grotto Trail
2.74 miStay rightBranch - stay right
2.89 miKeep rightBranch - stay right
2.95 miGo leftBranch - Go left across the tracks
3.13 miR and Rfountains, faucets, vending, concessions, picnic area, toilets
3.42 miBoardwalkWalk along the boardwalk to the sidewalk
3.57 miSidewalkWalk to the end of the sidewalk
4.03 miRoadWalk along the road to the West Bluff Trail
4.08 miToiletPit toilet
4.23 miWest BluffClimb the West Bluff Trail
5.27 miStay rightBranch - stay right
6.01 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - East and West Bluff Trails
Altitude chart - East and West Bluff Trails Trailhead Road and tracks East Bluff Stay right Go left Right to DD Tee right Tee right Stay right Sidewalk Road End of trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Feature: Rock climbing
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Paved
Type: Loop
View: Open
View: Overlooks
View: Wooded
County: Adams
State: Wisconsin
Country: United States of America
DNR web site
DNR map of the park (PDF)
Wikipedia article
Printable trail map in PDF format (48 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (5 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
Trails in the surrounding area
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Trailheads for Illinois Iowa, and Wisconsin (3 additional trails)