Balanced Rock Trail at Devil's Lake State Park

Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

Balanced Rock has become an enduring symbol of Devil's Lake State Park. It is a piece of the East Bluff that cracked off, tumbled, and landed just-so on another rock so as to be balanced on a pedestal.

The Balanced Rock feature can be found on the Balanced Rock Trail - a difficult mountaineering rated climb through a talus slope from the South Shore. This brief .4-mile trail is among the most difficult hiking trail climbs in the State of Wisconsin - and is also one of the state's most popular trails.

The length of the Balance Rock Trail is certified as a portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Devil's Lake Segment.

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As a rock feature, I've seen better. Someone in the early postcard days of Devil's Lake decided this rock of the millions found here should be endowed with a title and it has since become the enduring symbol of Wisconsin's premier state park. Nonetheless, it is a feature that makes a destination, a reason to climb the talus slope of the formidable South Face of the East Bluff.

It's about the journey, not the destination. And, oh what a journey it is. Forget the Stairmaster, all you need is a State Park Sticker and you'll be on your way to peak physical fitness. Over its short .4-mile course the trail climbs 500 feet (635ft Total Elevation Gain) at a 69% slope which is steeper than a step ladder but not quite (not quite) as vertical as a rock climb. I punched those numbers into an arbitrary online hiking difficulty calculator and it came back with a difficulty score of 67 - more than twice the difficulty of what it considers extreme. But, lucky for you, intrepid explorer, there's an air-conditioned Starbucks at the top of this trail; so you can cool off with an iced latte before descending on shaky legs.

In spite of its vertical stair climb, most visitors to the park will take the challenge. You will find the old and the young, the slim and the curvy, dog walkers, and parents packing their newborns on their backs climbing to see the magnificent Balanced Rock formation - which is only about half way up the climb. And, almost all who start the climb will make it to the top of the East Bluff. It is far from impossible, you will just notice that you have lungs along the way.

The trail itself is not technically difficult. Secure stone steps define the trail well and at .4 miles this trail is very short. You may find your typical hiking pace is much slower on account of both the verticality of the climb, but also considering that this is a narrow single track footpath you will be required to step aside for oncoming traffic and will not be able to move faster than the pace of the slowest hiker in front of you. Considering the popularity of this trail, it makes little sense to try to pass slow hikers - you'll just find yourself behind the next rightly cautious group. So, take your time and enjoy the awesome views along the way.

Balanced Rock at Devil's Lake State Park
Balanced Rock at Devil's Lake State Park

Devil's Lake State Park - Balanced Rock Trail

COMMUNITIES: Baraboo, Merrimac

TOTAL MILES: .4-Miles linear

POINTS OF INTEREST: East Bluff, Balanced Rock

CAMPING: Devil's Lake State Park Camping

Directions and Trail Map

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Address for your GPS: S6513 WI-113, Merrimac, WI 53561
| Coordinates: N43.409566, W089.724014 |

From Milwaukee 2 Hours
From Madison 45 minutes
From Green Bay 2.5 Hours
From Wausau 2 Hours
From Minneapolis 3.5 Hours
From Chicago 3 Hours


Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail
Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail
Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail
Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail
Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail
Devils Lake Balanced Rock Trail

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