A Little Time and a Keyboard: Rocky Hike Leads to a Divine Gorge and Waterfall at Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area near Baraboo, Wisconsin

Rocky Hike Leads to a Divine Gorge and Waterfall at Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area near Baraboo, Wisconsin

Sunday, October 30, 2022

 

Rocky Hike Leads to a Divine Gorge and Waterfall at Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area near Baraboo, Wisconsin

A sunny fall morning brought us to Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area near Baraboo, Wisconsin. We spent the morning climbing rocks, crossing a meandering stream, admiring a deep gorge, discovering a waterfall, and standing in a rain of golden fall leaves. The preserve provided such a perfect fall memory.

The creek meandered through the woodlands under the golden autumn sun.
The creek meandered through the woodlands under the golden autumn sun.

Parfrey's Glen is named for Robert Parfrey, an Englishman who inherited the property in 1865 and maintained a gristmill on the creek until 1876. Several gristmills were constructed along the creek from about 1846 to 1866. Parfrey inherited one of these gristmills. Eventually, the land would be acquired by the state and would become Wisconsin's first state natural area.

Amber leaves rained upon us from trees atop the bluff at Parfrey's Glen.
Amber leaves rained upon us from trees atop the bluff at Parfrey's Glen.

As we began our hike, we immediately noted picturesque points along the creek. So, we took time to pause and soak in the beauty. Eventually, we discovered rock walls on either side of us. As we looked up, trees rained amber leaves upon us. 

Rocks, logs, and leaves littered the stream creating interesting patterns.
Rocks, logs, and leaves littered the stream creating interesting patterns.

As we approached the gorge, the trail became rockier and rockier. We would have to use rocks emerging from the creek to cross in several spots. As you hike this trail, just take your time. Hiking sticks may be useful and definitely wear hiking shoes. We were ok without our sticks and just taking our time but do what is best and safe for you.

Beautiful quartzite chunks provided a delightful find  in the bedrock at Parfrey's Glen.
Beautiful quartzite chunks provided a delightful find
 in the bedrock at Parfrey's Glen.

Eventually, we made it to a section where we had to climb up. As we approached a point to make our way up, we traced the rock wall noting the sandstone and quartzite conglomerate of the gorge. I particularly enjoyed observing the beautiful chunks of quartzite.

We took a narrow path up to where we could enjoy both views of the waterfall and the gorge. When we embarked on the path up, we did not notice that there were multiple paths and one looked like it could have been easier. So, take a minute to look and choose the path that looks right for you. 

The waterfall gently trickled over the steps of the bedrock.
The waterfall gently trickled over the steps of the bedrock.

Eventually, we reached a promontory that yielded breathtaking views. Simply incredible! On one end, we gazed at the beautiful waterfall trickling down rock steps. In the other direction, we were entranced by the views of the deep gorge. Just stunning! You will probably want to spend a little time at this point taking it all in. 

The jagged gorge highlighted with moss and a dash of fall colors was striking at Parfrey's Glen.
The jagged gorge highlighted with moss and a dash of fall colors
was striking at Parfrey's Glen.

Time to head back soon arrived. The hike back was just as striking as the hike to the gorge. We paused quite a few times along the way to savor sweet moments in the magnificent preserve.

The Ice Age Trail can be accessed at Parfrey's Glen. We would like to return and perhaps try part of this leg of the trail. In addition to Parfrey's Glen, there are a number of striking natural areas in the Sauk County region to enjoy. Parfrey's Glen is actually a portion of the larger Devil's Lake State Park, so you can easily pair the two. But, there are plenty of explorations in the area so well worthy of an adventure.

Rocky Hike Leads to a Divine Gorge and Waterfall at Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area near Baraboo, Wisconsin





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