I woke early and left Mirror Lake State Park so I could get one last day of hiking in. After striking out at Devil’s Lake State Park due to huge crowds, I was hopeful that most families were heading home so I tried again – and was right. Although I didn’t have much time to explore, this was a good first taste exploring one of Wisconsin’s most popular parks.
Balanced Rock Trail
Starting from the South Shore Visitor Center, I took some time to enjoy the lake view. This area was still very crowded with families picnicking, but not shoulder-to-shoulder like the previous day. A short walk from the parking lot was the start of Balanced Rock Trail which quickly ascended nearly 400 feet up the cliff side along rock steps – quite a workout to say the least, but slow moving at times due to single-wide funnel points. I didn’t get any good photos of Balanced Rock itself due to large groups of kids congesting available space. Winds on the cliff were whipping around 30mph. This section is also part of the Ice Age Scenic Trail – a very small beginning step to completing this long-term goal.
East Bluff Trail / Devil’s Doorway Trail
Moving down the path led to excellent panoramas of the valley and lake. The tree cover is dense and vividly green with life. This trail also leads to the famous Devil’s Doorway rock formation, aptly named for the window through the large stone columns. Many kids were climbing up into the cavity and hanging precariously off the cliff edge, but after about 10 minutes I got a few clear photos. I moved away from the crowd only about 100ft farther down trail to enjoy the views and a granola bar in silence.
Although I wanted to complete the full loop, time was against me so I split down the Potholes Trail and dropped back down the cliff side. Needless to say going down presented a much less strenuous hike. Somewhere on the steps I came across a small red/white/black snake that was too fast to photograph, but I believe it was a young milksnake (not poisonous thankfully). Once at the bottom, the trail flattened out and is very well maintained.Lat = 43.4112396 , Long = -89.7202072 -- Show at Google Maps