Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area near Devil’s Lake Wisconsin is an adventurous family hike!
We learned about this hike from blogger Kenneth at Wisconsin Explorer. After viewing his stunning photographs, we knew this would be a Must-See during our visit to Wisconsin Dells!
Wanna a sneak peek?
PLAN your Hike
About eight miles east of the southern shore of Devil’s lake is the stunning Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area. Parking at this popular hiking destination can be a bit tricky, even on a weekday afternoon. The lot is small and some visitors park along the highway.
The parking area includes picnic tables, running water and restrooms. Read all posted signs, as special rules apply to natural areas in WI. No hiking off trail, rock climbing or pets are allowed.
In 1952, Parfrey’s Glen became Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area and has a fascinating history. Preservation is the goal at this natural park and the WI DNR seek the help of all visitors.
Bring cash for the daily parking fee.
Enjoy the Journey
Don’t be fooled by the easy stroll as you start off on the hard-surfaced trail that transitions into packed, crushed gravel.
As we passed along the meadow and were enjoying the pleasant day, our son started complaining and thinking this trail is “boring”. “Trust us,” I insisted, “there is going to be more.”
As hikers descend into the forest the trail becomes uneven and challenging with large stones and tree roots. Consider carrying babies or small children in backpack carriers. Even a jogging stroller will quickly face limitations on this trail.
The only way over this stream is across the rocks.
Beautiful mossy sandstone welcomes hikers to the beginning of the gorge. This is almost as far as you can go before needing to walk in water. If you plan to continue onto the gorge, bring shoes that can get wet. We carried our water shoes in a backpack and changed as we needed. If the water levels are low, hikers may be able to find ways to get through without getting wet.
Creek walking from here on out. The children were getting pretty excited at this point, having no idea what was coming up around the bend in the stream.
Up and over the slippery boulders. A trail and boardwalks were once in this area, making easy access through the gorge. But in 2008 and 2010, flood waters ripped through the canyon and destroyed the paths. Remnants can be seen as hikers make their way through.
We made it to the end! Probably about a 35 minute hike. We didn’t keep good track of the time because we were having so much fun. Overall we spent around two hours enjoying this park.
A small waterfall rewards hikers for their grueling efforts to make it upstream. By far, not the largest waterfall in Wisconsin, but still refreshing and exciting after the hike.
Explore the Area
Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area near Devil’s Lake Wisconsin is just the start to fun! Devil’s Lake has amazing hiking trails and rock formations which we didn’t have enough time to enjoy.