Explore the most popular trail running trails in Devil's Lake State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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

Devil’s Doorway is definitely one of the busiest spots along the Devil’s Lake trails but is a must-see if you’re visiting the park for the first time

I did this trail yesterday but cut in on the Upland Trail loop and stayed inside of hwy 113 it was about 10+ miles. I'm glad I started at park headquarters and did the bluffs first. it took me 4 hours or so. just an fyi parts of it are on park roads

hiking
19 days 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.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous view, great photo op, and fun!

hiking
1 month 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.

very quick, dramatic view

It's a great trail.
Posting are accurate on markers.

Take it easy going up if you arent used to walking up hills. The grade is gradual. The scenery is well worth it! If you go all the way around it does get rocky and close to the edge at some areas

hiking
1 month ago

It is a lovely hike in the spring. It’s nice to see the land “waking up” from winter. The meadow portion only had a couple wet spots. Once one arrives in the woods, it’s pretty clear until you get higher up, where there is some snow on the trail.

hiking
4 months ago

This is the trail where I always start my hikes into Devil's Lake State Park because it is the path less taken. You can hike for a few hours round trip and see hardly anyone if you take this quiet path up to the East Bluff via Woodland trail, then do the Devil's Doorway loop and then down the pot holes then back up the CCC, then out again through the meadow. Take enough water, I always see people looking miserable, overheated and dehydrated because they underestimate the energy and time they will spend on these trails.
There are a lot of people at the top especially in the summer. Recommend taking your time, stopping for a picnic in and amongst the boulders along the escarpment. Also go in spring and fall, not so much in the summer unless it's early morning on a Tuesday or Wednesday, if you prefer solitude.

4 months ago

beautiful

hiking
7 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
7 months ago

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

hiking
7 months ago

This is an awesome hike. Took my 3 yr. old daughter and she did pretty well on the inclines (although it was slow going). Had her in the backpack for the hike out thru the woods. Views were great. Pretty busy even during the week in the fall.

Good trail. Nice scenery and fairly easy.

hiking
8 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.

Awesome hike, did it this past weekend in about 25 hours. The to climbs are not to be underrated, but are doable. There are lots of scenic bluffs which are awesome to take a look at. We had a great time hiking this and would definitely recommend it.

hiking
9 months ago

Nice trail. beautiful views

hiking
9 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.

great views at any point on your hike

10 months ago

Steep trail going up and down West Bluff trail, but the views at the top are worth the climb. We took the trail that runs directly next to the lake on the way back to the south shore. Nice path with big boulders along the side. Made for a great hike.

hiking
10 months ago

Started at South Shore since that was the only parking available. Popular place on a gorgeous weekend. Took the West Bluff Trail. Very steep up and back down on both ends. Awesome overlooks. Made a loop by coming back along the west shore, very cool paved trail through the quartzite boulders.

on Devil's Lake Loop

hiking
10 months ago

Parts are steep but the overlooks are rewarding.

backpacking
10 months ago

Very pretty trail. Didn't do the full course but planning on it. Went on a gorgeous day out & I loved how there was miniature waterfalls along the trails. Pure fresh cold water. Definitely going back.

I started from the Rozno's Meadow parking lot off Highway 113 and headed west. The meadow was beautiful. This hike is pretty tough. I had a day pack with my lunch and 3 liters of water and was able to refill my water a couple of times in the park's picnic areas. The trail ends at a trailhead off Highway DL and I had to walk back on the road to my car at Rozno's Meadow, which added another 2 miles to my overall distance. The trail was very well marked (yellow blazes). I highly recommend this, but definitely not for beginners.

Steep climb up CCC Trail and very steep decline among potholes Trail - beautiful scenery and view!

Favorite light hike to take my 5 year old on. Quite a few options to add a little distance to.

Crowded on weekends, especially in summer.

super busy. but good for Wisconsin

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