Just west of the Devil’s Lake State Park Visitor Center and just across the road, is a trail. Only it’s not, but it is. There is a signpost on one end marking it as a connector trail to the West Bluff, but it’s really more than that. It’s also a trail to a point of interest within the park. A memorial to one of the early settlers to Devil’s Lake, Louis J. Claude and his wife, Elvira.
According to the book, “A Lake Where Spirits Live” by Ken Lange, Louis J. Claude was a civil engineer from the area Lake Windermere in the north-west of England. He came to Wisconsin in 1851 and settled at Devil’s Lake in 1857. The Claude’s fancy, Tudor style home was a landmark on the north shore until 1953, when it was removed by the state. What’s left now is the fireplace marker and a bit of stone foundation.
This trail, that isn’t a trail, takes hikers past the Claude Memorial but can’t be found on the park map. In fact, other than the sign post on the east end with the “To West Bluff Trail” sign, there is no marking at all. There is no sign or even distinct connector on the west end of the trail. It has become overgrown, and forgotten.
Visitors to the park of course, find the trail all of the time. Being so close to the north shore beach area, it has become a popular drinking spot in the shade as the many beer cans will attest too. Today you’ll find a large number of forts & shelters made of downed wood and even a lean-to set right against the old foundation walls. It’s become, well, trashy.
Obviously this spot needs a bit of loving care, which will have to come from volunteers. (Something we’ll need to help organize.) But I also think the trail, that is not a trail, needs to be officially re-recognised and re-named. This small connector, I suggest should be called what it was meant to be, The Claude Memorial Trail. It needs to be added to the trail maps. I mean, what’s the point of the memorial if no one knows where it is?
And one more thing. In the woods, just north of the mowed grassy area and right below the Claude Memorial are two effigy mounds. The lines had been marked out a couple of years back, but now they’ve become lost and overgrown once again. It seems a shame that folks are walking all over them just looking for spot build a shelter and have a beer.. Don’t you think?
Photos From the Trail
** And of course, my crazy opinions are my own and often caused by too many hours of isolation in the deep dark woods. My posts certainly don’t represent the opinions of the Wisconsin DNR or any other group, organization or book club.