15 Amazing Places for Hiking in Wisconsin Dells
Guide to the best Wisconsin Dells hiking trails, including the best Ice Age Trails and waterfalls near Wisconsin Dells
“There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.” says Aristotle.
Well, I know that there are many options to discover the beauty of nature and its sights, but I think that hiking is the only activity that really allows you to fully experience this charm.
When it comes to the best destinations for an adventure, you should add hiking in Wisconsin Dells to your bucket list.
Although there are many entertaining and fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells, exploring the wilderness of these rock formations and the picturesque views of the Wisconsin River will take your vacation to the next level.
In terms of the variety of hiking trails, Wisconsin Dells offers a variety of appealing opportunities, ranging from easy walks to difficult rock climbing.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, your favorite water bottle for hiking and get ready to explore the stunning Wisconsin Dells hiking trails!
To pitch in and help, I made a list of the best places for hiking in Wisconsin Dells based on the beauty of the scenery, difficulty, and popularity.
Keep reading to find out some tips and recommendations to make the most out of your Wisconsin hiking experience and enjoy some of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
While Wisconsin Dells is a great vacation spot and worth a few days, these beautiful Wisconsin trails are all also perfect for fun day trips from Milwaukee!
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Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells
There are a lot of amazing accommodation options in Wisconsin Dells, a few of my favorites are:
However, if none of these places suit your needs, check out my post on the best vacation rentals in Wisconsin Dells for more great options.
1. The Ice Age Trail – Gibraltar Rock Segment
Length: 4.6 miles
The Ice Age Trails in Wisconsin cover about 1000 miles, but the trail is incomplete, leaving us with short segments ready to be explored.
The Gibraltar Rock Segment offers many panoramic views and has moderate difficulty, which makes it a great choice for a unique set of memories and impressive experiences!
The Gibraltar Rock Segment has a length of 4.6 miles, which takes about four hours to complete.
But it’s worth it to experience the view from one of the best hiking trails in Southern Wisconsin.
This trail for hiking near Wisconsin Dells will take you on an amazing family and dog-friendly hike.
The first part of this hike will take you through some breathtaking views of Wisconsin Lake and some wonderful, invigorating forests.
It’s also one of my favorite places to see the beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin.
Then, after continuing your road to Gibraltar Rock by following a long climb, you will find yourself hovering over a magnificent view.
From here you will see Gibraltar Rock, Wisconsin Lake, and some scenic landscapes of farmlands.
An interesting fact is that my first recommendation for hiking trails near Wisconsin Dells became popular in 2015 after appearing in the movie Uncle John one of the best movies set in Wisconsin.
I suggest you take this hike when the leaves begin to change their color, as the vivid collage of yellow, orange, and red shades are definitely going to be the cherry on the top of your awesome fall activities in Wisconsin.
2. East Bluff Trail
Length: 2.6 miles
Other stunning loop hiking trails near Wisconsin Dells are East Bluff and East Bluff Woods Loop.
Even if this trail is heavily trafficked, it deserves its place in this list because of the spectacular views of the rocks, lake, and green woodland.
You can find this trail at the Devil’s Lake State Park, which is one of the most fantastic places to vacation in Wisconsin.
I greatly recommend you to keep this destination on your holiday list as this park has to offer remarkable scenery and is one of the best State Parks in Wisconsin.
The hiking trail is well-maintained, making it another versatile choice.
It’s also another good option for a family trip as there are many resting spots and stops where you can enjoy some home-brought snacks and take lovely pictures!
Given the fact that this hiking trail includes passing through the woods, the best season to give it a try is fall!
You will be able to enjoy the calmness of nature and rest near the flowing stream while avoiding the crowds.
This hiking trail is like a fresh breath of air!
3. Witches Gulch
Length: 2 miles
This idea for hiking Wisconsin Dells will give you an insight into the geographical formation of the Wisconsin Dells and leave you with some neat memories.
This canyon is located in the River State Natural Area and is a short loop trail that is family and dog-friendly.
Unlike the first two hiking trails, Wisconsin Dell’s Witch’s Gulch offers wheelchair access.
Even if this hike is far from being a challenge in terms of climbing and adventure, the views and unmatched ‘scape will definitely make up for it!
The tight glacier canyon in Wisconsin Dells lets you navigate through a narrow path and observe the layers of millions of years of rock formations.
The river that carved this masterpiece will follow you along and delight your ears with its murmur.
An important thing to know is that the Witches Gulch hiking trail is only accessible by boat.
Of course, once you’re there, you can hike around, but be careful to stay on marked paths as the surrounding area is all privately owned.
This adventure is like no other as you will have the opportunity to understand the history and interesting legends of the place!
More than that, Witch’s Gulch provides some of the best beaches in Wisconsin, and they are all-natural!
You can also stop and enjoy camping in Wisconsin Dells while discovering the secrets of nature.
The views are great in the light of day, but when the sun sets, the trail is brightened by the flickering light of torches, which gives it a really magical atmosphere.
4. Tumbled Rocks Trail
Length: 1.6 miles
The Tumbled Rocks trail is one of the most popular trails in Wisconsin.
It is situated in Devil’s Lake Park and consists of a linear walk along the shore of the lake.
What makes this hike special are the boulders that surround the trail, looking like the paved road cuts right through the stone.
It is a great adventure for a family trip as the relaxed path through the boulders allows you to enjoy the company of others and make some great memories.
This is one of the most unique Wisconsin vacation ideas as you will have the chance to hike through a vast scenery of piled boulders which are very old formations, different from all you have seen before.
This hike is simple and suits everyone. Don’t let the simplicity of this trail hold you back from taking a trip and visiting this amazing place.
A big plus is that you can also enjoy camping near Wisconsin Dells and visit as many places as you can.
Devil’s Lake Park offers this opportunity and I tell you, from my experience, you shouldn’t pass it!
I recommend you to try this hike in sunny weather as the reflection of the sun into the vast stretch of the lake’s water is a must-see.
5. Parfrey’s Glen Trail
Length: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Parfrey’s Glen is the first State Natural Area in Wisconsin. The term “glen” means a narrow valley, especially in Scotland or Ireland.
So, this trail is an ascending path to the famous attraction.
What makes this hike so special is the back-in-time atmosphere. It is home to many endangered species of plants and insects and it also has a huge geographical importance because of the nature of the stones.
For this reason, bringing food or pets is forbidden and visitors should always stay on the designated path. Another big no is picking plants as souvenirs.
It is important to value and respect the already threatened ecosystem.
I really enjoyed the sound of the river and the freshness of the air, along with the sun rays which gently touched my skin through the leaves of the forest.
As a side note, I advise you to have proper hiking shoes, as this trail is mostly a walk through the water creek.
And you wouldn’t want to end up seeing the extraordinary Parfrey’s Glen with wet and cold feet!
I have a whole post on the best vegan hiking boots for women and men if you have no idea where to start.
Another highlight of this idea for hiking in Wisconsin Dells is the waterfall.
There are not many waterfalls near Wisconsin Dells and it is not a usual thing to find a waterfall in that area, so the sight of such a beautiful view is refreshing.
A good option for photography enthusiasts is hiking when the sun rises, as the morning sun will gently shine in the forest, allowing you to indulge your senses in the soft reflection of light in the river.
6. Devil’s Doorway Loop
Length: 1.9 miles
This short hike will take you to see the well-known Devil’s Doorway rock formation and the Balanced Rock. But this hiking in the Dells activity is not for the soft-hearted.
It consists of some narrow steps on the edge of high mountain paths.
Anyway, with a little bit of focus and awareness of your surroundings, you are all in the clear.
This hike will introduce you to two of the most iconic rock formations in the area and offer you some stunning views from the heights of the mountain.
I recommend you to avoid this hike on a weekend summer day, as it is very crowded and over-circulated.
To be able to fully enjoy your experience and take your time to capture the moments in some photos, choose a weekday or go after the summer ends.
However, avoid going in winter, as the path may be slippery and difficult to pass.
7. Chapel Gorge Trail
Length: 2 miles
This trail is one of the best Wisconsin Dells hiking opportunities. Prepare yourself to go on a peaceful walk through the forest, only to end on a hidden beach on the shores of Wisconsin Lake.
This short hike will take you through the calmness of the trees and allow you to observe many interesting rock formations before descending on a secluded beach shore.
Even though this hike is magical, I have to give you some advice.
Don’t make the same mistake as I did by imagining that I will find myself alone on an isolated beach and enjoy the smell and sound of water.
The destination is a pretty popular summer getaway, so if you are looking for some alone time in wonderful scenery, I recommend you to visit Chapel Gorge’s Trail in spring or fall.
Hiking in Wisconsin Dells can be tricky sometimes, as most places tend to become overcrowded, but if you plan your trip in advance and keep this in mind, your experience shouldn’t be altered.
8. Baxter’s Hollow Trail
Length: 5.2 miles
In my opinion, the proper time to visit Baxter’s Hollow Trail and make the best out of your adventure of hiking in Wisconsin Dells is autumn.
The leaves have wonderful colors and it really tops everything off. That’s why hiking in Wisconsin Dells is one of my favorite activities and getaways in Wisconsin!
This trail is usually quiet and light-trafficked, allowing you to enjoy the mysterious deep woods and delight your ears with the sound of the running streams.
The trail is located in an important area protected by the Nature Conservancy.
It is a relatively tiring hike, but if you are looking for some workout in the middle of the forest, this is the perfect spot!
I liked this trail because of the multitude of interesting views, it allowed me to discover the untouched wilderness of the forest and feel the freedom of only being surrounded by greenery.
You should definitely add this hike to your list, but keep in mind that a sunny, bright day is the best time to visit, as the trail is sometimes poorly marked and you can get lost easily.
All in all, this hike requires some kind of focus and awareness of your surroundings.
9. Pewit’s Nest Trail
Length: 0.8 miles
This short, challenging hike is maybe one of the most fun activities in Wisconsin Dells. The path will take you to a hidden gem in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
The hike ends with a deep, circular water pool surrounded by cliffs.
If you are not one of the daring ones, you may want to stay aside and take pictures, because these rocks are the best water slides when used with caution.
Leave behind the overcrowded amusement parks from the Dells, and come on an adventure to a natural pool surrounded by trees.
This place used to be a quiet oasis, with sporadic laughs and splashing around. In recent times, it grew in popularity and now you might find it filled with people looking for the same entertainment as you.
Plan your trip according to this matter and try to avoid weekends for a quieter experience.
10. Echo Rock Trail Loop
Length: 3.1 miles
This trail is located in the Mirror Lake State Park and is a great way to overlook Mirror Lake.
This path is a soft walk, suited for families, pet-owners and accessible with wheelchairs. It really is a great introduction to the magical adventures of outdoor hiking.
Don’t let yourself be dragged all the way into the artificial entertainments of the Dells when nature still has much to offer.
You can find all kinds of wildlife on this trail, including woodpeckers or prey birds.
I recommend you to take some time off from the man-made amusements and explore the relaxing and comforting atmosphere of the forest and Mirror Lake with this great hiking in Wisconsin Dells opportunity.
11. Roznos Meadow Trail
Length: 3.7 miles
This trail might be one of the best hiking in Wisconsin Dells routes, but because of its difficulty and lack of a panoramic view over the Devil’s Lake, I chose to place it lower on the list.
Although it is rated as moderate and dog-friendly, some hikers reported it as difficult. It is also part of the many Ice Age Trails Wisconsin has to offer.
Along this trail, you will find some immense boulders, literally house-sized, and pass a flat meadow surrounded by tall grass.
It is a scenic view of nature and a quiet way to discover nature and its wonders, as this trail is not heavily used.
As I mentioned before, if you are looking for a peaceful, less crowded experience, stay away from weekends or holidays.
In my opinion, the best time to visit Roznos Meadow Trail and make the best out of your adventure of hiking in Wisconsin Dells is autumn. The leaves have wonderful colors and it really tops everything off.
12. The ‘400’ State Trail
Length: 21.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
This long trail is one of the best mountain bike trails in Wisconsin. Connecting Reedsburg to Elroy, this trial offers you great views and is, in fact, a rail.
The path is graveled and there is easy access with bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs.
The reason I put this trail on the list is the fact that it can be explored by mostly anyone!
Bike enthusiasts can challenge their strength and follow the entire path, while people looking for a stroll can enjoy the river and farmlands.
There are small towns along the way for a well-deserved break where you can enjoy some snacks and food.
What’s interesting about this trail is the fact that it used to be a railroad. The name of “400 State Trail’ comes from the name of the railroad which made a 400-mile journey from Chicago to Minneapolis.
I would put this experience on my cool weekend trips in Wisconsin list and make sure not to miss it.
The best time to visit is summer when you can enjoy the warmth of the sun and the greenery of nature!
13. Rocky Arbor Loop Trail
Length: 1.4 miles
Rocky Arbor State Park is just 1.5 miles from Wisconsin Dells. It is a quiet, small park offering picnic spots and one hiking trail.
What put this hike on the Wisconsin Dells trails list is its virgin scenery, almost like an escape from civilization.
Even though you can sometimes hear noise from the highway, this trail offers a great view of oaks and bluffs. Rocky Arbor is a quick getaway from the hustle of the Dells.
I know that there are many unique things to do in Central Wisconsin, but if you ever wish for a retreat in a not-so-crowded space, this Rocky Arbor has you covered.
Even if it’s not a strenuous trail, and doesn’t require much effort, the hike is highly appropriate for children and can spark their interest in discovering nature!
I suggest you explore this trail when it’s dry, meaning that you should avoid it when it rains, as there are tree roots and the land might become quite muddy.
All in all, this short escape to quietness is interesting and can be done easily if you have a trip planned to the Dells.
This is also one of the best hiking spots in Wisconsin Dells in winter.
14. West Bluff Trail
Length: 1.6 miles
West Bluff is an amazing experience of hiking in Wisconsin Dells.
The steep, difficult climb is exactly what fit hikers are looking for! This hiking trail is located in Devil’s Lake Park.
It is a paved path that climbs to the highest point of the park.
This is a part of the Ice Age National Trail and you have the opportunity to encounter some famous rock formations, such as Prospect Point and Cleopatra’s Needle.
You will find yourself surrounded by the edges of cliffs and the beautiful image of unbothered nature.
For adventurous couples looking for a romantic hike, the views up here are perfect to enjoy with a loved one. Afterwards, you can head back to one of the most romantic hotels in Wisconsin and freshen up.
15. Wisconsin Dells Riverwalk
Length: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Very Easy
The reason why I included this super simple walk on the banks of the Wisconsin River is that I thought that it makes great leisure and recreational activity.
This path follows the Wisconsin River and passes through park areas.
You can bring your family, pets and it’s suitable for wheelchairs. It’s an easy way of enjoying nature in its purest form, just by admiring your surroundings.
You will find pubs and restaurants along the way, so I recommend it as a good idea for a lunch walk in search of a place to eat.
All in all, hiking is one of the best ways (if not the best) to discover natural beauty. Now that you know your way around the best hiking trails in Wisconsin Dells, you are ready to venture into the heart of nature and unravel its secrets.
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
Short FAQ About the Best Hiking in Wisconsin Dells
1. Is there hiking in Wisconsin Dells?
Yes! Wisconsin Dells is full of amazing hiking opportunities, and some of the best Wisconsin trails. There is also a lot of hiking near Wisconsin Dells if you are happy to drive 30 minutes or less!
2. Can you hike to Witches Gulch?
Unfortunately, you can’t hike TO Witches Gulch as it is only accessible by boat. However, once there you can hike around the designated hiking areas.