Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parfrey's Glen

Hello!  Today I have the long awaited post of Parfrey's Glen, Devil's Lake, Wisconsin that some of you have been waiting for.  Sorry this took so long, but I had a lot of cards to post and I had to wait till I could 'squeeze'this post in. 

In my previous posts about Devil's Lake (scroll down if you missed them) I talked about our very first camping experience, and the two trails 'West Bluff Trail' and 'Tumbling Rocks Trail'.  Today I will talk about the last trail we took called 'Parfrey's Glen Trail'.  This trail turned out to be a very pleasant and unexpected surprise for me and my family.  I had been to Devil's Lake at least a half a dozen times in my life, and never knew this place existed in the park.  Usually when you go to the park, you  park at the beach and then you walk up one of the numerous trails which all start and end at the beach at some point.  Well this trail is located at the edge of the park, so if your already inside the park, you have to drive a distance to get there.  The only way I heard about this trail was because I actually took the time to read the travel guide while sitting around the campfire the night before and I thought 'mmmn, this place sounds interesting.  We should check it out'

This trail is described in the tour guide as a 'easy, medium trail with creek crossings.  It passes through a deep gorge and ends up at a small waterfall'.  Well, that description is true for most of the trail, however, in 2008 there was a devastating flood which completely destroyed most of the trail in the gorge and actually re-routed the river.  This destruction is still evident as you walk the trail today.  They never repaired the trail, they just closed it down for one year.  When you walk the trail, you can see where the stone steps and bridge used to be...instead of be able to climb rock steps, now your climbing over boulders and stepping on stones in the river to get to the waterfall.  It actually made it more adventurous for us, however, I did notice some older people couldn't make it to the end of the trail and had a difficult time skipping the steps in the river.

Anyway, onto some pictures.  When you first enter Parfrey's Glen it is a nice level enjoyable walk.  You will notice that he temperature is much cooler than the trail head a few hundred yards away.  The forest is very peaceful and very soon you start to hear 'babbling brooks' which flow on the side of the trail.  Here is one pictured below.

 We found this interesting tree growing alongside of the brook.  It's bark was so smooth to the touch.
Further down the trail, we noticed these vines growing up the trees.  They were strong enough to swing on.  My 140 lb son tested one out below.
 The further we got into the forest, the more it reminded me of a little Hobbit forest one would see in a Lord of the Rings movie.  But eventually the nice level path begins to end.  There were a couple of wooden bridges to cross a small stream, but most just had stepping stones in the river, which made me a little nervous, (the stones can be slippery and I didn't have shoes with good grips on them), but my husband helped me cross.

As you leave the level path and pretty glen, and start 'skipping over the river', you will begin to enter the 'gorge' part of the trail.  Now this part of the trail no longer reminded me of a Lord of the Rings movie, but it reminded me of the gorge in the newest King Kong movie when the insects attacked the ship's crew.  Remember that scene?  There are massive rocks going up either side of the trail (nearly 100 feet), all covered in moss, ferns, and other shade loving plants.  Pictured below is the entrance to the gorge.  My son and son-in-law are sitting on the top boulder (which I think was the bridge washed out by the flood), and my daughter Ashley is standing below part of the washed out steps.
 You see lots of down trees with exposed roots on the trail.  My son is reclining on one of them below.
 That is me on sitting on one of the rocks in the gorge. 

 This pictures below give you some idea of the 'lushness' of the gorge.

 Here again is part of the washed out trail.  I wish I would have seen it before the flood with the foot steps and bridge.  It probably looked very different, and not as rugged as it is today.
 And finally a picture of a little girl sitting on a boulder in the deepest part of the gorge gives you some idea of the scale of this place. It really was quite the experience being inside the gorge and seeing all the massive rock formations surrounding you.  It felt so 'prehistoric', like you were in another world.  
I hope you enjoyed my little tour of 'Parfrey's Glen'.  It was such an enchanting place for all of us, and I hope someday to be able to visit it again.

Have a great day! Amy


  1. Oh Amy. What a beautiful place. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading your story.

  2. Yours pictures make me want to go there, what a beautiful and strange spot!
    Thanks for sharing , loved my 'tour'..

  3. Oh what GREAT pics! It looks BEAUTIFUL there!!

  4. These are stunning pictures Amy. Thank you so much for posting them and describing everything. I would love to go there, but it sounds like it might be a bit of a challenge with my 2 kids, especially since I am one that worries about them all the time anyway. Hopefully they will build another bridge soon, or we might just have to wait until the kids are a older. Definitely one of the places though I a plan on visiting.

  5. It's au superb place ! Thanks for sharing these beautiful shots !


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