This summer my quest for day adventure hikes brought me to several parks I’ve never heard of before. Driving on the interstate north from Madison a ton of times, there was always one area that stood out from the rest of the landscape. North of the Dells, just off the highway, rock formations jut out of the ground toward the sky. “That would make a great park,” I said. Well, lo and behold, it was.
An hour and a half drive north from Madison on the interstate brings you to the park. With 21 campsites, no flush toilets, and less than 2 miles of hiking trail, this park is small.
Camel’s Bluff Trail
Length: 1.25 mile loop
Description: This flat, easy loop brings hikers through a variety of scenery around Camel’s Bluff. Two other rock formations are visible from the trail.
I should start by saying that this trail isn’t attached to the rest of the park. Driving past the park entrance for a little over a mile will bring you to a small parking lot and the trailhead.
Nice work, Travis Smith!
Flat and easy is the name of the game on this trail.
So I’ll be honest, by this point on the trail we should have seen the first rock formation, Devil’s Monument. Either we missed a side trail to get closer or the leaves were too thick to see through. Either way, I’m sure it’s lovey.
We did catch the second one. This one for sure has a side trail that brings you to the base of the rock. Cleopatra’s Needle is a tall, skinny rock formation that comes out of nowhere.
After seeing the needle, the trail continues on back to the parking lot. It remains flat and steady. After finishing the trail, we went back into the main section of the park to hike the other trail.
Nature Trail and Mill Bluff Summit
Length: .5 mile loop plus 223 stone steps
Difficulty: The loop is easy but the stairs are, well, stairs.
Description: An easy loop around the base of the bluff and a series of stone steps that take you to the top, this trail allows for exploration of the bluff from multiple vantage points.
You can start with either, the nature trail or the summit. We started with the nature trail.
This trail is flat and wide, leading around the base of the bluff.
Make sure you stay on the trail.
At the northern most section, this trail runs pretty close to the interstate. It was loud.
Finishing the nature loop, we began the climb up the stone steps. The start gentle and large but quickly get small and steep.
On the top of the bluff, a trail runs the entire length. There are some pretty tall trees so the views aren’t as great as they could be, but there is an observation deck. Of course, right when we get to the top, it starts raining.
While we were checking out the other side of the bluff, the rain stopped. Take two of the observation deck pictures!
After that, we climbed back down and that was that. Like I said, it’s a small park.
Having hiked the hikes, I wouldn’t make this a destination trip. Driving from Madison to somewhere north of the Dells? Absolutely stop for a quick hike. Looking to camp? I’m not sure this would be my first pick.