A Gray Day in the Baraboo Hills

Devil’s Lake State Park:

While the calendar indicates that spring started a few days ago, temps struggled to get out of the 30’s today.  The southwest wind was brisk.  Fortunately, the Merrimac Ferry was open, saving me from driving around Lake Wisconsin on the way to Devil’s Lake State Park near Baraboo. When the Wisconsin River is iced over, the Ferry does not run. It opened early this year, closed due to ice conditions, and then reopened recently.

Winter is still hanging on tight by its fingernails. The leaves are brown.  There are snow remnants scattered in the corners of the park, and some ice remains on the south shore of the lake.

I hiked my usual route around the lake, starting with the east bluff trails. This route starts with the Balanced Rock Trail. This is basically a climb straight up the rocks to the top of the bluff–short and steep.

It’s actually not that bad.  There is a trail.  See if you can find it in the photo below.

About half-way up to the top, there are a couple of small signs alerting you to look off to the right for the “Balanced Rock.”

The Balanced Rock is quite impressive. I may have ventured off the trail a bit for the close-up.  Watch your footing.  It’s a long ways down.

After reaching the top of the East Bluff, I followed the trail along the top and then down to the north side of the lake.  Heading towards the beach, the trail passes along several Indian burial mounds.  On the other side of the beach, there is a steep ascent up stairs to the top of the West Buff Trail.  I followed that trail back to the south side of Devil’s Lake.  After coming down from the bluffs, the trail follows the edge of the lake, passing by fishing areas, the dog beach, and  the no dog beach.  The circle route took  about two hours. I didn’t have time for another long hike, but there was just enough time to visit a nearby favorite spot.

Pewits Nest:

This Wisconsin State Natural Area is a hidden gem that not many people know about. Just a few miles west of the Walmart in Baraboo, the Pewits Nest parking lot is on County Highway W.

  During the summer, this is a terrific place to wade upstream and cool off.  Some foolish people (I won’t mention any names) climb down a bit from the bluffs and jump into that pool after the small waterfall.  I like to cool off, and I like to jump.  But I don’t jump into pools of water of varied and unknown depth.

I’m glad I took the opportunity to hit the trail today.  Tonight, the thunderstorms have started, and I’m tucked in near the wood stove.