Beat autumn crowds at Devil’s Lake, WI.
Wisconsin becomes a veritable color wheel when October hits, as maples, poplars, and oaks paint the countryside red, yellow, and burnt orange. The leaves hold on longest in the south, and Wisconsinites know it—the trails in gorge-filled Devil’s Lake State Park, one hour north of Madison, are often packed during leaf-peeping season. Here’s one way to get privacy: According to Todd Persche, a 15-year volunteer with the park, hikers can find sanctuary on a routefinding adventure to the top of the south bluffs in a 3,480-acre, trail-free expanse called Devil’s Nose Natural Area. From the east park entrance, follow South Lake Road to park at the boat launch on the west shore of Devil’s Lake. Begin the hike by tracing your way south, scrambling over quartzite rock jumbles to the top of the bluff—a climb of about 400 feet. “When you reach the rim, there’s an old path that looks like a deer trail,” Persche says. “It heads east for about a mile, leading to views of Devil’s Lake from rock outcroppings.” Use your map and compass to venture farther south into groves of yellow birch and cedar. Contact 608-356-8301; bit.ly/devilslakesp