As you enter the park you navigate down a twisting, winding drive through towering trees and gradually the large, clear blue lake starts to peek through until you finally round the corner at the base of the hill. There, just beyond a green space, sits a huge shimmering lake surrounded on all four sides by jagged rock and tree covered hills. That is Devil's Lake.
When we lived in the small rural town of Baraboo, Wisconsin we were about 4 miles from beautiful Devil's Lake State Park and I still miss it every day. My twins and I road the quick 5 minutes to the park from our house about once a week for those 3 years.
Often we spent a couple hours in the morning hiking or playing on the beach. In the summer, we took up residence most days on the south shore beach. When people visit the area this is always where I tell them to go. If you are in the area, make the time to stop. I promise it is worth it.
Devil's Lake is one of the most beautiful spots in Wisconsin. Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are hard to beat and shoudn't be missed, but we love Devil's Lake.
Often Devil's Lake State Park gets lumped in with the rest of the Wisconsin Dells and while it is close and was carved in similar ways by nature, Devil's Lake is actual in Baraboo WI. Baraboo is a town about 20 minutes from the Dells and is famous for being the birthplace of the Ringling Bros Circus. While this is certainly a colorful history, this stunning park full of beaches, trails, and wildlife is the true gem.
I have actually never camped at Devil's Lake but growing up in Milwaukee WI, a few hours away, I knew tons of family and friends who headed to Devil's Lake at least one weekend a summer to camp. If you do, I highly recommend carving out time during the week or in the off season. Summer weekends at Devil's Lake are a bit insane.
Over the three years we lived in the area we did most of the hiking trails.
*There is a gentle trail that runs along the lake on the western shore. It is a little rocky but very managable for young children. Our kids were able to do this around the age of 3.
*On that same shore there is a hike that heads up the hills which is nice and shaded. It is a little tricky for little toddler legs, but I think my preschoolers and certainly school agers could handle it.
*On the eastern shore is one of my favorite trails. It is steep and we did it with our kids in these backpack carriers. The views are spectacular.
*Another fun trail near the park is Parfrey's Glen. There are directions in this post. It is stunning year round and concludes at a waterfall.
Talk to the Rangers at the front of the park for helpful tips on where to hike.
Playing in the sand and in the water was our favorite activity at Devil's Lake. There are two beaches. A bigger and often more crowded beach on the North Shore and a smaller beach on the South Shore.
Both have a shallow entry and continue to be fairly shallow for a ways out making it perfect for little kids. Wading and splashing in the water was our twins' absolute favorite summer activity. The sand is pretty nice and good for building sand castles and such.
We preferred the South Beach mostly because it was less crowded. On a Tuesday morning we could also have it completely to ourselves.
Both shores have picnic benches and plenty of green space. There are also grills available on both shores. Picnicking is a popular summer activity.
Whether you own your own or rent them there, Devil's Lake is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The water is incredibly still and being out on the lake is very peaceful. We loved doing this in the late Spring or early Fall when the park is less busy.
The very first time we took our twins canoeing it was out on Devil's Lake. You can read all about tips for canoeing with toddlers in this post.
Check the website to see the Nature Center's hours because they vary with the seasons.
There is a small area for children to check out some natural materials and Rangers are usually on hand to answer questions. There are also events throughout the year.
One of my favorite parts about Devil's Lake was watching the seasons change. There aren't many more spectacuar spots to watch the different seasons roll through.
During the year we would collect leaves, tromp in the snow, swim in the water, and picnic in the grass. For this reason, if you live in the area, I highly recommend a season pass!
There is a playground on the South Shore end of the park. It is a little more advanced and high off the ground so I recommend it for ages 3 and up, but there were some things for my toddlers to enjoy.
*Arrive earlier in the day to avoid crowds. Weekdays are always less crowded than weekends.
*Pack a lunch and stay all day if you don't have to worry about naps.
*There is a boardwalk and some paved trails around the picnic area on the South end and a paved trail from the parking lot to the end of the beach on the North end if you wish to walk with a stroller.
*If you are planning to camp in the Summer, reserve your area at least a couple months ahead of time.
*If you live in the area, get a season pass. It is a wonderful place to visit year round.
*You will likely have to walk a ways from the parking lot so pack light.
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Find all of our Wisconsin with Kids Posts HERE
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