Happy Holidays! A good number of people make a visit to their local state park part of their holiday tradition. A Great Plan! Here at Devil’s Lake State Park you can expect hiking trails to be snow-covered, ski trails to be groomed, but walked upon and the ice? Well, there are folks out on the ice.
Park users here in Sauk County will want to be aware that an antlerless-only holiday gun hunt will be going on from Dec. 24 through Jan 1. Hunting will impact many areas of the park.
At the moment roads around the park are in pretty good condition. The weather forecast (see below) could change things quickly. South Shore is the one to be most concerned with. Shaded from the sun by the south bluff, the road remains snow covered and icy long after the other roads in the park have cleared. More snow and rain beginning today will just make South Shore road more treacherous. Drive slowly, watch for hikers and ice fisherman crossing the road. Leave extra time to stop!
Folks have been using the hiking trails quite a bit. As of today (Dec. 23rd), the trails are tracked up and a bit gnarly to walk on. Stairs and sections of black top covered trails will be ice-covered and slippery. We recommend snowshoes on the flat trails (Which help you get over the boot holes!) and ice cleats/grippers for the bluff trails. Staircases on all bluff trails and connectors can be dangerous depending on conditions! Cliff edges and overlooks are obviously dangerous…
Steinke Basin presents a few limitations this weekend. First, Steinke Basin is within the open hunting area. You need to wear blaze orange if you’re out there. Also hikers may not walk on groomed ski trails. Of course they are the most tempting because the snow has been flattened and is easier to walk on, however walking on the ski trails is a big no-no. From the Steinke Basin Parking lot, hikers and snowshoers can cross the road and use the Johnson Moraine Trail which is part of the Ice Age Trail unit and must stay open to hikers year-around.
The Uplands Trail is open to snowshoeing and is certainly a challenging trail any time of year. Parking is tricky. You can park at the Ice Age Trail parking lot on Hwy 113 which will hold 5 or 6 cars. We seem to always get mixed messages about parking at Steinke Basin and hiking up the un-groomed rescue road. Everyone does it, but the sign says you can’t… So, if you want to get up the Uplands Trail… you make the call!
Snowshoers are free of course to go anywhere and need not follow the trails… Just mind the hunters!
Cross Country Skiing
Devil’s Lake State Park has one cross-country ski loop on Steinke Basin. Parking is off of county road DL. As of today the trail has been groomed but walked upon. The major issue over the holiday weekend is that the Steinke Basin loop is within an Open Hunting area. So if you plan to ski, you might want to get out your blaze orange!
As of Friday Morning there was still open water on the lake along the railway tracks on the north-eastern shoreline. Folks have been out fishing on the southern shore of the lake for a few days now. That said, a truck just went through the ice on Lake Wisconsin just a few miles away 2 days ago. We don’t measure the ice and can only tell you what we’re seeing. Be careful out there.
The weather over the holiday weekend looks a bit sketchy. We’re expecting 1-3 inches of snow today with a winter weather advisory from 9am this morning to 11pm tonight. According to Channel3000.com out of Madison, fog and freezing drizzle is expected on Sunday. Wind, Rain & even a thunderstorm is possible. Temps all weekend will run from the high 20s to low 40’s on Christmas Day. Here is a full forecast.
Have a Happy And Safe Holiday Season!