Today my sister and I have decided to use her day off of work to try our first hike and drink adventure just outside Madison. We started our adventure with an investment. We purchased an annual Wisconsin state park pass.
At only $28 we figured it was definitely worth it. If you only plan on doing one or two hikes, the daily price is $8.
We hiked part of the East Bluff portion of Devil’s Lake State Park. The full hike is a 4.6 mile loop, labeled “Difficult” in our hiking guide. Due to weather and time complications we only hiked one section of it, roughly 2 miles. Our phones indicated we still racked up 4 miles of hiking…probably due to where we entered the trail. In true Wisconsin fashion, it was 12° F but felt like -7°. Even though the guidebook listed directions to the trailhead, we still had trouble finding it. We started at the main entrance in the north side of the lake, which is where we bought our annual pass at the information office. After driving halfway around the lake we decided to just park in one of the lots and pick up the trail where we were. The best part about hiking a loop is that you will end up back where you started, so you don’t necessarily have to start at the front. We started on the “Balanced Rock” section of the loop. It is exactly as it sounds. Random rocks thrown together to make a mountain, precariously balanced on top of each other with a vague staircase somehow carved into them.
The hike up was precarious, but once we got to the top it was smooth sailing. The only way we were able to find the trail was the boot prints pressed into the snow by other hikers. Without the prints, we would have probably wandered around aimlessly.
Even though it was super cold, there was nothing but sun out. Both Bekki and I ended up sweating through our 4 layers of clothing, which was fantastic because it allowed us to enjoy the hike and the views without hating the cold. Although it did make some of the icy snow melt into solid ice with a small amount of water on top so it was slippery and horrifying to come back down the mountain. I had to literally sit on my butt and scoot myself down a portion of the rock trail.
Afterward, we visited Wollersheim Winery for a tasting and tour. The winery is located in Prairie du Sac, and was only a 23 minute drive from Devil’s Lake State Park. The winery is one of the oldest in the entire US and owns several other wineries in Wisconsin, one of which is the Cedar Creek Winery.
- Good views
- Lots of trail options for this park
- Park and trails were centered around the lake
- The staff were nice and helpful
- The trails and park were very accessible
- Bathrooms are open in the winter
- There were a lot of maps and markers throughout the trail
- Winter hiking was icy, and dangerous
- Snow covered some of the trails
- Hard to find trailheads
Bekki: I loved the beautiful views once we climbed to the top and hiked along the ridge. However, if there weren’t a ton of map posts (and at one point my handy google maps) I would have hiked in circles trying to find my way out.
Buffy: This trail system seems like it has a few different hike possibilities, which means if you can make it out here several times, it will offer a variety of hiking experiences. And, if you want to hike in the winter, invest in some good boots.
- Variety of wines available
- Great tasting wine
- Tour included a tasting
- Cool architecture
- Poor customer service
- Felt rushed as a part of the 4:00 PM tour
- The cave was cut from the tour
- It’s unclear if you can sit and enjoy a glass of wine or just do tastings
Bekki: The wine was delicious. Usually I am a fan of the semi-dry reds, however the Domaine Reserve, which is a dry red, and the Chardonnay were my favorites of the day. The landscaping was gorgeous, and I bet the outdoor entertainment space they have is even more spectacular in the summer/fall.
Buffy: Good wine, bad experience. Basically, the winery was super cute and had a lot of history and stories behind the buildings and how they make their wine, but not all of the staff were happy that we came for the last tour hour. I do really want to try the distillery next door…maybe for one of our future adventures.