Balanced Rock And Devil’s Doorway Via The Potholes Trail At Devil’s Lake State Park

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The day after hiking the Tumbled Rocks Trail at Devil’s Lake State Park we decided to do the Devil’s Doorway/Balanced Rock trail.

This day was a lot nicer than the day before. The sun was out and the wind was gone. It was almost hot at times!

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I didn’t really know what to expect on this trail other than some rock formations and views of Devil’s Lake so I ended up pleasantly surprised.

The trail starts out as a dirt path in the woods and involves a quick railroad crossing at the beginning.

Soon you start to go up. And up. And up. Then you get to Balanced Rock and go up even more. But back to the bottom before we get too far.

The trail going up is just steps made from stone from the area (I assume?) and it’s so slippery. They were dry but still very slick.

Be sure you wear shoes with really good traction for this one. At some parts the trail is steep and narrow with some slightly intimidating drop offs, so if you’re very afraid of heights, proceed with caution.

We took our time heading up and got occasional views of the lake below through the trees. The best spot for this was just a curve along the trail before it cuts to the right through the woods.

We saw a few other people on the trail but not too many. It didn’t feel too busy by any means. But it was a weekday in October so who knows.

Eventually we made it to Balanced Rock, the first stop on the loop. It’s kind of hard to see from the trail but it’s on your right. You can see it from below before you actually get too it.

This part was just fine. It’s a rock and it’s balanced. I probably saw 20 balanced rocks in Utah, this on was just a different color. It was still cool, though.

Keep heading up the trail further into the woods to make your way over to the Devil’s Doorway. Eventually you do get to the top of the bluff or whatever this is and it flattens out.

There is a little side trail on the right to get to the doorway and it is marked. This is a weird rock formation that looks like, well, a door.

We hung out here for a few minutes, enjoying the view and taking a break. Not only do you get to see the doorway, but you also have a view of the surrounding hills and lake (and parking) below.

Finally it was time to head out. And down. And down. And down. There are two ways down that make the loop and we chose the middle trail to make it a little shorter, the Potholes Trail.

Now, I don’t know what the far end of the loop is like, I assume more stairs since you have to get down somehow but I have no idea (if you do, let me know).

The Potholes Trail is all stairs and very steep. This is where we saw the most people and they were all surprised at how steep it was. And slippery, of course.

We still took our time going down, scooting over to let people pass as needed and eventually made it to the bottom after what felt like a thousand steps.

From there it was a straight, flat shot through the woods on the Grottos Trail back to the parking area.

Overall, I’m so glad we didn’t skip this trail! I ended up really liking it even if it did take longer than it might have normally. We were moving pretty slow on the rocks because of how slick they were with our shoes.

After this it was time to head back to Eau Claire but with a pit stop at Ski-Hi for all the fall apple goodies. And cheese. Definitely stop there if you can and definitely don’t skip the Devil’s Doorway Loop.

Wisconsin Books

Where is the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway trailhead?

The Devil’s Doorway/Balanced Rock trailhead is on the south shore of Devil’s Lake. Follow the road into the giant parking area and go all the way too the end, like you’re facing the north shore.

The trailhead, if you’re facing the lake, will be on your right across the train tracks. I don’t think it was marked but that’s the one. You can definitely see the trail from that corner of the parking area.

How long is the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway loop?

We hiked 2.8 miles seeing both on a loop. Balanced Rock alone is 0.7 miles and it says Devil’s Doorway is two miles.

But Balanced Rock is on the way and I’m not really sure why it says 2.8 miles for me. Because we didn’t do the full loop I don’t think.

We went down the middle trail, the Potholes Trail, connecting to the Grottos Trail to get back to the parking area. Maybe the tracking was off since it was in the woods?

Is the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway hike hard?

Yes and no. It’s got a good amount of elevation (for where it is) but the hardest part is that the rock steps are so slippery.

I didn’t think it was too difficult (aside from the slippery rocks, even when dry) but my parents might say otherwise.

My mother said (I just asked) “I think it was moderate. If it was difficult, I don’t think I could have done it. You can quote me on that. Ha! Is there something between moderate and difficult?”

Father says “I would say there are some sections that are difficult. The trail going up had some steep and narrow sections, going down had some as well. I would say it was strenuous.”

So it’s a mixed bag I suppose. If you’re youthful and spritely it might be a walk in the (state) park but if you’re aging it may be more difficult.

Is the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway trail worth it?

100% yes! It’s a fun trail, a little unique since it’s not just flat, smooth trail, and the views are beautiful. We almost skipped it and I’m so glad we didn’t.

Devil’s Doorway Loop photo gallery

Have you been to Devil’s Lake State Park? Did you hike to the Devil’s Doorway or Balanced Rock? What was your favorite hike there?

2 thoughts on “Balanced Rock And Devil’s Doorway Via The Potholes Trail At Devil’s Lake State Park

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