Wisconsin Dells, Chapel Gorge Trail and Rocky Arbor State Park, fall throwback

It’s the hottest week of 2020 so far. As I write this, it’s a muggy 89 degrees outside. Let’s cool off with a look back to a fall hike in October 2019.

Every year a group of friends rents a cabin and gathers for a weekend of games, laughter, and togetherness. It’s a wonderful tradition that continues to grow and take on little traditions of it’s own. One that I fully support is the annual hike. Anyone in the group interested in incorporating a little movement into their weekend of board games, over indulgence, and lazing around is welcome to participate in the short, local hike.

This past year featured two locations around the Wisconsin Dells area, the Chapel Gorge hike and a hike at Rocky Arbor State Park. Let’s start with Chapel Gorge.

Chapel Gorge Trail

Length: 1.7 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Description: This easy, wooded hike travels from the parking lot to a secluded beach on the Wisconsin River


This trail is a short, 1.7 mile round trip travel that brings hikers from the parking lot to a secluded beach on the Wisconsin River.


The trail head is well marked and found off River Road in Wisconsin Dells. I couldn’t find an address but a Google search should bring you right to the location.

Photo credit: All Trails

The trail is wide and wooded as it travels towards the river.


The trail passes a variety of rock formations along the way.


After a brief descent to the beach, the area opens up to gorgeous views of the Wisconsin River. This private beach would have been even more enjoyable in the summer, I’m sure. (It snowed later that day so, you know, not a great beach day even by Wisconsin standards.)


This year’s hiking group!


This year’s hiking group again (plus me.)


Remember those fall colors?

From the river we backtracked to the parking lot.

This hike was pretty, but we weren’t quite done. From the parking lot we drove to Rocky Arbor State Park.

Rocky Arbor State Park

Park Website
Park Map
Trail Description

Normally I would break up the trails and describe them individually. This park only had one trail, the nature trail. This one mile trail travels along the bottom of the rock formations before bringing you to the top (via wooden steps,) and looping back down again.



The trail is mostly narrow as it winds towards the rocks.


These rock formations are made of 500 million year-old sandstone.


The sandstone was cut by what is now the Wisconsin River, eons later.


The river has since changed course and now flows a mile and a half away from the gorge it once created.


The land where the river once flowed is now occupied by a tiny stream, which flows in the opposite direction of the river. This rock formation was my favorite. It popped out of the creek so suddenly.




More fall colors.

My impression was that this park is a great escape from the commercial side of the dells. This would also be a great spot to camp if you are looking for a little more nature with your water slides. If you’re in the area and want to hike a little, either or both of these trails are great options.

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