Explore Wisconsin - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
2 days ago

Went early enough in the morning that it wasn’t crowded. I really enjoyed the trail but wasn’t able to complete the entire loop because of a Bear encounter. A Black bear came out of the woods onto the trail about 60 feet in front of me grunting (with a little bit of growling) and posturing. Scared the daylights out of me but i knew what to do and all was well. VERY awesome experience!

hiking
5 days ago

I loved the path this trail took around the lake. The viewpoints were beautiful. The cool air was refreshing. The trail was beautiful.
Unfortunately, the path is being paved over so it can be hard on the knees and ankles. Also, the trail does not allow overnight campers so allow time and energy to do it in one day. Also there were $41 in camp and park entrance fees. In addition to all that, the trail and campsite were crowded with loud families. I expected this loop to feel more like a backpacking trip and less like a family vacation tourist trap.

I suppose I should have researched more.

This hike was beautiful. Not too strenuous but beautiful and varied scenery. I didn’t see anyone else the entire four hours I did the trail. I did both the 2 1/2 mile hike as well as the 2 mile nature walk. Highly recommend actually climbing up the Pine Cliff that you will see about halfway through the nature walk right by the lake. It is off the trail a bit but if you climb up the big boulder you’ll be on a beautiful cliff in the middle of a pine forest.

Great fun trail! Definitely coming back.

hiking
20 days ago

Lovely trails. Would be helpful to have more signage!

hiking
23 days ago

I have done this hike twice and both times it was amazing! The rocky steps on the East Bluff are a little tricky to go up, but it is definitely doable for the average person. I can’t wait to come back!

hiking
27 days ago

I found that the mileage was slightly off. Don’t like the cracked and bubbled asphalt on West Bluff because you have to watch every step. Watch the slick quartz on the Balanced Rock trail but it is gorgeous!

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is the definition of "bang for your buck". It is super accessible for hikers of all skill levels and is quite beautiful, in spots. Go early and hike the cloverleaf of inter-connected trails. Skip Stephens' Falls unless you like a crowd.

Pros:

- Close to home (Madison)
- Beautiful natural landscape
- Trail(s) is/are well marked

Cons: (not really)

- Super busy! Hard to relax.
- Crowded parking on the road
- Trail is heavily wooded in spots...mosquito and tick repellent is a must must must!

a real nice hike, lots of good viewpoints overlooking the lake. and at both ends if your feet get tired you can cool them off in the lake.

1 month ago

Continued to Lost Canyon Trail from Stephen’s falls. There were some beautiful rock formations with regular encounters with small creeks throughout. Trail is well marked. I definitely recommend bug spray! There were some steep inclines, but worth it!

Fun trail, incredibly dog friendly. Bikers, runners, and hikers are all very friendly and respectful of each other

Awesome hike :)

This hike is always well-trafficked (with the exception of the winter months) and has some of the best hiking views in Wisconsin. The climb up can be some serious cardio but things stay pretty flat once you’ve reached the top of the bluffs until you head back down

Best in fall, so you can get a clear view of lakes, but summertime makes everything extra green! Bring bug spray.

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous views! Would recommend wearing boots. Even got to swim in the lake. The water is chilly but feels great after a hike on a summer day! Water seems clean, lake is sandy.

Great trails always go for biking or for a nice hike to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

on Lost Canyon Trail

2 months ago

vestido, great hike

hiking
3 months ago

The trail is well marked in the locations least needed. Lots of forks with no markings so determining your path is difficult. Highway noise is constant so don’t expect a quiet hike. Lots of up and down hills which makes this moderate. Cute creek towards the end. If I was a local I’d use this for running.

hiking
3 months ago

Fun and gorgeous. Lots of bluffs to have a great view of the lake from. Dog friendly if on a leash. Nice beach. Seen quite a few people with kayak’s and paddle boards, this is a no wake boating allowed. Trails are awesome. Their are few rock structures like “devils doorway” that are great photo ops. Camping is available. Highly recommend!!

Devils Lake is the ‘go to’ hike anytime there is time to make the drive from Madison. Having done the hikes many times, a couple recommendations:

1) If coming into the park from Hwy 12, a shortcut is to take ski hi rd and park at the boat launch lot near the south shore. This gives access to either the west bluffs right across the lot or a short stroll along the lake boardwalk to the south shore/east bluffs. There is also a dog play area at the boat launch if your pooch likes to swim (just pay attention and be courteous of boaters)

2) I oftentimes hike up the west bluff trail to the north shore, then take the lakeside path back, for a quick loop that takes a little under 1 1/2 hrs at a moderate pace for those hiking without young kids (depending on your pace and if you have kids it may take up to 2 1/2 -3). The elevation gain on each bluff is around 450 ft. I’m in good shape and a strong hiker so this doesn’t seem like much; that said the gains are moderate/steep for those unaccustomed, but then they do flatten out on the bluffs after the initial ascent. There are no 1500 foot elevation gains at devils lake contrary to another review below.

3) If you take the longer loop from the west, finding the east bluff trailhead can be a bit of a challenge at first, and you may inadvertently end up on the railroad tracks like Lisa Reilly did in her review below. The tracks can be walked but are NOT part of the trail system around the lake. From the north shore boat launch, cut across the tracks on the walking path, continue up a grassy area in front of the parking lot, and turn LEFT. You may see a bathroom facility, keep left until you see the trailhead sign another couple hundred yards. Lisa (and anyone else that isn’t aware) I hope you give the loop another try and locate the east bluff trail - it is even better (but longer) than the west bluff IMO.

4) Likewise, if you start on the east bluffs, you may inadvertently end up on the lakeside path (which is nice but has no climb). As you make your way toward the west bluffs on the walking path, after the last bathroom facility before the lakeside path starts, head right off the path through the picnic area. You should see the west bluff trail at the end of the picnic area.

5) If you go on weekends, and want to bring your dog and/or beat crowds, start early (8am at latest). My lab can handle the trails well but I recognize having an 85 lb beast barreling down (or up!) balanced rock is not something other people want to deal with especially when the trail is crowded. If your dog isn’t used to steep trails with lots of rocks you may want to consider another option.

Try the whole loop going east to west (from the south shore) or west to east (if starting from north shore) if you have time (I prefer going up balanced rock over down). You wont find a better short 5 mile hike with real (albeit short) climbs anywhere else the area.

5 months ago

Such an amazing place. Looking forward to many more adventures and connecting with nature there.

5 months ago

loved the trails, and some off trail areas, too. I like that the trails are more rustic. They were a bit icy today, but still enjoyable.

hiking
9 months ago

I try to do this loop at least once a year...for a Wisconsin hiking experience, this is the best you’ll find in the state, in my opinion. Awesome elevation gains, incredible views throughout. West Bluff, Balanced Rock and Potholes trails are no joke. Wear good shoes / boots and be ready for some serious cardio. 600 feet up in short order...

hiking
9 months ago

The trail kept getting more beautiful as we got higher! Amazing view of the lake.

hiking
10 months ago

This was so beautiful. Balanced Rock trail on the east side...which takes you to east bluff... is almost a scramble. I never had to use my hands but super steep with breathtaking views. I can’t wait to hike this again.

Love this hike. The beginning is beautiful! After the cliff it's 3 stars.

hiking
11 months ago

Nice trail. beautiful views

hiking
11 months ago

This is a gorgeous hike, I can't wait to go back in the fall, no bugs, it is shaded all the way, make a stop at the Stephens fall and check out the rock spring house before you go back to the car

11 months ago

Nice hike through the woods. go clockwise from Stephens Falls lot. we went to the falls first, then counterclockwise, much steeper climb that way. 9 year old did great though!

hiking
11 months ago

I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 miles of this loop. It was a continual climb right at the onset, which was very challenging, reaching 1500 feet. There were many large rocks and rock stairs to navigate. The view from the top of the trail is magnificent. However, following the "Devils Lake Loop" as it is laid out here takes you out of the wooded trail and to a road where you will walk for a distance before the trail picks up again. Then, the trail essentially ends and you must walk on or along railroad tracks for at least a mile to finish the loop around the lake. This loop is not an official trail when looking at the state park map. However, if you are looking to circle the lake, just be prepared for 1/2 of your hike to be unconventional and not particularly fun or interesting.

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