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Devil's Lake
Mountains & Rocks

Devil's Lake

Devil\'s Lake

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Wisconsin, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 43.41860°N / 89.731°W

Object Title: Devil's Lake

Elevation: 1467 ft / 447 m


Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Jun 10, 2003 / Oct 12, 2017

Object ID: 151646

Hits: 18065 

Page Score: 88.19%  - 26 Votes 

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Click to see a map of Devils Lake area (Thanks to SP member Alpinist).

Baraboo Hills are the remnants of an ancient mountain range in south central Wisconsin. While the hills are not exactly a world class mountain range, they are a very welcomed change from the monotonous flatlands of the American midwest.

The focal point of the range is Devil's Lake, a pristine stream-fed lake without a surface outlet that is one mile long (NS) by 0.6 mile wide (EW) and sits at an elevation of 960 ft. To the east, west and south, the lake is bound by bluffs that rise to an elevation of 1450 ft (highest point:1467 ft on top of West Bluff). The bluffs are made of cliffs and large talus fields and are partially covered by a forest of White Pines, Mountain Ash and Birch trees.

Countless cliffs with illustrious names such as: Balanced Rock, Leaning Tower, Aladin's Castle... seem oddly out of place in the middle of Wisconsin, a state that is known as "America's Dairyland" bringing to mind images of flat farmlands in every direction. A rock formation on top of the East Bluff that is known as Devil's Doorway, is somewhat reminiscent of Utah's Delicate Arch. The hard quartzite cliffs provide the best rock climbing opportunities in the midwest. Interested climbers should obtain a copy of the book: "Climber's Guide to Devil's Lake" by Sven Olof Swartling. This book will introduce the reader to more than 1600 routes (or click HERE for a link to a related site).

20 miles of trails crisscross Devil's Lake State Park. The hikes vary from easy strolls on flat terrain in the forests, meadows or along the shoreline, to fairly strenuous hikes up relatively steep trails that lead to the top of the east and the west bluffs. Swartling's book gives a very brief description of these hikes. The trail that takes the hiker through the most "alpine-like" environment is the Balanced Rock Trail (see Routes). This trail provides the shortest way to the top of the east bluff where one can have great views of the lake and have easy access to Devil's Doorway. The south bluff does not have any trails and will appeal to the more adveturous hiker or those who seek solitude.

Canoeing, picnicing, moutain biking, swimming and cross country skiing are also popular. Click Here for more info.

Expect big crowds over the summer weekends.

Devils Lake East Bluff


Evidence suggests that Native Americans lived near Devil's Lake right after the melting of the Ice Age Glaciers more than 10000 years ago. Signs of mound building activity dating back 600-1200 years can be found right on the shores of the lake which was known by various names that loosely translate as "Holy Lake", "Mystery Lake", "Bad Spirit Lake"...European settlers appeared in the 1830s. Much of the land around the lake was unsuitable for agriculture so it remained unsettled. The recreational potential of the lake, however, did not go unnoticed. The coming of railroad in 1873 brought thousands of tourists to the area. Stone quarrying and the rapid growth of resorts caused many concerned citizens to seek the establishment of a state park. In 1911, their efforts paid off when Devil's Lake was established as Wisconsin's third state park. Much of the trails and the infrastructure of the park date back to the 1930s when a group of 200 Civilian Conservation Corp workers brought significant improvements to the park.

Getting There

Devil's Lake State Park is prominently displayed on all maps of Wisconsin.

From Madison, drive Route 12 to Sauk City where you cross the Wisconsin River. Immediately after the river, turn right on Route 78 and follow it till you reach Route 113. Turn left (north) on 113. After a mile or two you will find the South Lake Drive on the left which will lead you to the south shore of the lake. Distance from Madison is roughly 40 miles.

Red Tape

Daily or yearly park entrance fees required. Click HERE for current rates or call (608) 356-8301.

Cleo s Needle
Devils Lake
A picture of  Balanced Rock ...
Vulture Lookout

Me standing in the entrance...


Camping is available in the park but spots are hard to find. Call (608) 356-8301 or see the link under Red Tape.

Lodging available in the nearby town of Baraboo.

External Links

  • ClimbingDevilsLake.com
    Route descriptions, information and photos of popular climbs at Devil's Lake.
  • Climbing Central
    Description of routes, map, photos and other inforamtion about climbing at Devil's Lake.
  • Chicago Mountaineering Club
    The CMC sponsors Outings at Devil's Lake every other weekend duing the summer. The outings are open to non-members as well. CMC members enjoy unlimited access to a very nice private campground at Devil's Lake.
  • Devil's Lake State Park
    This may take a while to load, but it's an excellent park map.

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-8 of 8    
AlpinistUntitled Comment


Voted 10/10

It can be very difficult to find a place to camp during summer weekends. For anyone that regularly climbs at Devil's Lake, you should consider joining the Chicago Mountaineering Club. The $25 annual membership (+$25 campground fee) allows you unlimited use of their private campground which is located in the park.
Posted Jul 27, 2005 7:24 pm
cwoods17Untitled Comment


Hasn't voted

If you want to climb, try to get one of the group sites. Most are for 20 people and there is one 40 person site. These sites are at the base of the cliffs, so you don't have to drive anywhere the morning of you climb.
Posted Oct 10, 2005 12:10 pm
AlpinistDevil's Lake Guidebook


Voted 10/10

Sven Olof Swartling's 2nd edition Climber's Guide to Devils Lake. Details over 1600 routes and how to find them in the park.
Posted Jun 11, 2006 1:59 pm
AlpinistDevil's Lake map


Voted 10/10

Posted Jun 11, 2006 2:03 pm
naderRe: Devil's Lake map


Hasn't voted

Thanks for the map. Link made on top of the page.

(6 years later). where did the map go? I removed the link.
Posted Jul 6, 2006 1:22 pm
AlpinistRe: Devil's Lake map


Voted 10/10

Here's a new link to the map in a PDF format. I don't see a jpg image any more.

Posted Dec 19, 2012 8:24 pm
naderRe: Devil's Lake map


Hasn't voted

Thank you,

I made another link.
Posted Dec 20, 2012 9:29 am
naderRe: Devil's Lake map


Hasn't voted

The map was gone again so I had to make a new link again. I don't know why the address keeps changing.
Posted Nov 21, 2014 10:56 am

Viewing: 1-8 of 8    


Me standing in the entrance...Vulture LookoutA picture of "Balanced Rock"...Vulture LookoutClimbing at Devil\'s Lake fall...The Energizer (5.9)Pete Cleveland on Moss Muffin (5.10b)
Devil\'s LakePorkchop ButtressHiking up the CCC Trail in...Devil\'s Doorway on top of...Looking North from the top of...Prospect PointBrittons crack 5.6? Popular...
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