Hiking the Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment

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Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment


The Sauk Point Segment is a 4 mile long moderate section hike of the Ice Age National Trail. It begins at the trailhead for the famous Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area. From there it ascends gently for two miles - a level 4 mountaineering rated climb. After the second mile it rolls along swells of glacier moraine in Devil's Lake State Park to a trailhead at Highway 113. The Sauk Point Trail connects directly to the Devil's Lake Segment of the IAT. Heading westbound it is separated by 22 miles of connecting routes (roads) to the Portage Canal Segment.




Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment



The Sauk Point Segment is a popular route with hikers camping at Devil's Lake State Park who use the segment to reach Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area. The Parfrey's Glen trail is .85 miles connecting directly to the Sauk Point Segment at a shared trailhead. From the Hwy 113 trailhead it is an additional 3 mile to the Devil's Lake campgrounds - so the total out-and-back for this route is 16 miles - an approx. 6 hour hike.

Overshadowed by the showy and scenic grandeur of Devil's Lake and Parfrey's Glen the Sauk Point Segment may not strike most as a stand out segment, but it is a challenging and rewarding hike in itself. The initial climb which ascends 775 feet over two miles is one of the few level 4 mountaineering rated climbs in the state of Wisconsin. As a comparison, the hike from the parking lot to the top of East Bluff at Devil's Lake on the Balanced Rock trail is also a level 4 rated climb (though much steeper and more condensed).

For much of the hike at Sauk Point hikers are shaded by young and mature hardwood forest. There are a few openings, but it is a mostly shady trek on occasionally rocky single track footpath.

Parfrey's Glen is a hidden wonderland and all hikers who complete the Sauk Point Segment should be sure to include a side trip into the glen. It is Wisconsin's first state natural area and has been a place of fascination, mystery, and exploration for several hundred years. A small babbling brook cuts a deep gash into a stone walled slot canyon. The trail to this canyon is easy most of the way, but then becomes more difficult and exotic as it reaches into the dark and dank canyon.

Back in the day, Parfrey's Glen had a substantial boardwalk and cut stone CCC style trail leading all of the way back to the waterfall and pond. But, powerful storms have since washed all of that way. A sign now reads that the trail ends before entering the mystical rock walled canyon.

If you continue on you will have to walk through the stream which is ankle deep most of the time. The area is filled with tumbled stones and boulders and it is safest to forgo the rock hopping and accept that your feet will be wet. Near the real end of the trail some scrambling up the sides of slippery moss covered boulders is required.


Parfreys Glen State Natural Area
Parfreys Glen State Natural Area


Overview: Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Sauk Point Segment


COUNTY: Sauk
COMMUNITIES: Merrimac

TOTAL MILES: 4
DIFFICULTY: Moderate

NEXT IAT SEGMENT EASTBOUND: Devil's Lake Segment
NEXT IAT SEGMENT WESTBOUND: Portage Canal Segment

POINTS OF INTEREST: Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area, Devil's Lake State Park


Directions and Trail Map



If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner

Nearest Address for your GPS: E13981 County Road DL, Merrimac, WI 53561
| coordinates: 43.409909, -89.636717 |

From Milwaukee1 Hour 45 Minutes
From Madison50 Minutes
From Green Bay2.5 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis3.5 Hours
From Chicago3 Hours


Photos



Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment


Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment


Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment

Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment
Ice Age Trail Sauk Point Segment


Parfreys Glen State Natural Area
Parfreys Glen State Natural Area

Parfreys Glen State Natural Area
Parfreys Glen State Natural Area

Parfreys Glen State Natural Area
Parfreys Glen State Natural Area