Why Devil’s Lake?
One of the closest state park for Chicagoans which is a complete package in itself – be it the secluded camp sites, several hikes with easy to difficult climb and a sand bottom lake with a fully equipped beach. Perfect spot for a once in an year camping!
How to Plan your visit?
• For accommodation, I would highly recommend the local camp sites at the lake, although you would need to reserve months in advance for the weekend slot. We stayed at Upper Ice Age campsite 413-414 (joint family site).You can book the campsites here. You can also choose among the many cabins/resorts around the area.
• Run through the checklist and prepare your emergency backpack. Here’s mine.
• Choose your hikes. We did the Tumbled Rocks, East Bluff, Devils Doorway and Balanced Rock.
Our hikes are outlined above
Here’s the entire list of maps.
Our Trip Details from Naperville
Aug 4-6, 2019 (we couldn’t get any reservations for the weekend, plan early folks!)
Naperville to Park Headquarters, Baraboo.
3 hours from North Naperville.
We stayed at joint family campsites (413 & 414) Upper Ice Age Campground (no electricity).
Tip: Devil’s Lake has very limited joint family sites – which essentially means you would get 2 connected sites close together which makes it all the more enjoyable if you have a large group.
Our joint sites were nestled deep inside the woods with the tree cover so thick that even in broad daylight, we hardly felt any sun!
Tumbled Rock Trail
The eponymous Tumbled Rock Trail did justice to its name.
The wooded path leading to Tumbled Rock Trail
East Bluff Trail
East Bluff Trail is hands down the most scenic of them all, with its awe-inspiring views of the lake from the vantage points of the encompassing mountains. The uncanny escarpments of the quartzite bluff overlooking the lake are visually stunning.
Tip: For this trail, you can either choose either East Bluff (moderate) or East Bluff Woods (easy). I would recommend choosing the former on the ascend and the later on descent as the gradual decline of East Bluff Woods incurs lower tax on the knees.
You would be privy to many awe-inspiring views en route to the top.
Please be mindful that it is very easy to get lost on this trail. We wandered off the main trail for an hour. Needless to say, it was pretty stressful with many kids in toe and their grueling questions.
Here’s us during our ‘no clue where we are going’ hour.
Perks (or perils) of getting lost and taking less peaky path
Balanced Rock Trail
We did this trail by accident as the trail maps were very confusing. You could climb this from 2 directions:
South side: very arduous climb, basically vertical stone steps for the most part. Some of the stones could get slippery as well so shoes with good traction recommended. I held my nervous 6 year old’s hand all through as he plodded his way . Was challenging but fun. The trailhead starts from the South beach of Devil’s Lake.
North side: You can take the East Bluff trail as it converges with Balanced Rock trail at the top of the cliff.
Balanced Rock trail entrance from the South face of the cliff
You would need to rest and cool off along the grueling path.
But the picturesque spots on the way to make the climb worth it!
The Balanced Rock looks edgy
Easily accessible from the top of the East Bluff trail.
Mr. Mishra is non-nonchalant, even on the edge
Devil’s Lake Beach
We did Kayaking, river tubing and the other good old beach frolics at the North side of the beach (more touristy). Best part of the lake is that the beach runs extremely long before the waters turn deep.
Snacking up after all the fun
I’d love so much to know about your Devil’s Lake experience and suggestions. Or just drop in some comments if you found this page helpful while planning your own Devil’s Lake road trip and creating some unforgettable memories!