Exploring Baraboo, Wisconsin – Devil’s Lake & Mirror Lake State Park (Part 1: Hiking)

Baraboo, Wisconsin is about 2.5 hours away from where we live. It’s a beautiful area and there is so much to explore both on land and water. 

Our first trip there was just last year, 2020.  We had plans to stay at a state park, but due to the pandemic, all the state parks were closed for camping. A friend told us about a private campground in Portage, WI that was still open – Sky High Camping Resort. Sky High is 20 minutes away from Baraboo. We packed our trailer and headed up.


We highly recommend this campground. We felt safe there with the precautionary measures they were taking for the pandemic. They have a really nice section with wooded sites that we enjoy. Our favorite sites are #69, 67 and 65. They also have cabins and large rig sites. We’ve gone back several times since then with our friends staying in cabins. It’s great for family camping too, with lots of different activities to keep the kids entertained. There are some short hiking trails as well. For the REAL hiking, however, you need to venture out to Baraboo: Devil’s Lake or Mirror Lake State Park.


Devil’s Doorway

Devil’s Lake is Wisconsin’s most popular state park, so it’s typically very busy. There are 29 miles of hiking trails of varying distances and difficulties.  We’ve done East Bluff and West Bluff Trails – both are amazing.

The East Bluff Devils Doorway Loop (approx. 2 miles) is more of a challenge – it’s a steep climb up stone steps to get to the top. Once you’re at the top, the view overlooking the lake is pretty awesome! There is a side trail to a really amazing rock formation called Devil’s Doorway, as well as many other quartzite rock formations. Apparently we missed Balanced Rock. If you have seen it, comment below and let us know what you think.

Tumbled Rock Trail

The West Bluff Loop (approx. 3 miles) is more of a gradual incline, and more wooded throughout. We personally enjoyed this side better, less people, more trees, and beautiful views. Half of the loop is on the Tumbled Rock trail, which is mix of fallen rocks along the lake and pine forests. 


Another beautiful park in the area is Mirror Lake State Park. We highly recommend going in the fall since the colors are so beautiful. There are 28.4 miles of trails here that are much easier than Devil’s Lake, more wooded, less rocky, and also less crowded. Mirror Lake is a narrow reservoir lake with beautiful bluff views and the water is peacefully still.  

Beach seating at Ishnala

The Ishnala and Echo Rock Trails are great because you can get a nice hike in, then head over to the Ishnala Supper Club for a drink or a bite to eat. When we first came to this area, several friends were recommending we visit the supper club. It gets really busy since it’s so popular, so you may have to wait a bit to get seated. We ended up finding a seat outside, right on the water – beautiful views! If you’re a fan of Old Fashioned cocktails, that’s what everyone raves about. We prefer a nice cold beer. 

We’ve also hiked the Northwest Trail which is a 2.8 mile wooded loop with some views of the lake. The Pulpit Rock Trail is only about a mile long with a scenic overlook of the lake. There are some opportunities to get down in the gorge for some amazing views. The smell of the pine trees is amazing. This trail also has historical markers of old cottages that once existed in that area. 

The best view of Mirror Lake State Park, in our opinion, is from the water. Some of the best kayaking we’ve done. Stay tuned for more about that in our next post!