Thursday, January 19, 2017

Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area, WI

So I'm convinced seasonal depression is real. Especially with this embarrassing weather we've gotten in Wisconsin lately. Today is January 17 and it was nearly 40...and I could see green grass outside my apartment window getting spritzed from falling rain. Plus the fact that we have yet to have snow that stays around long enough to recreate in. My snowshoes are just collecting dust. Boo. But!...When winter does finally decided to drop by, there are a ton of places you need to go out and explore, Places like our state's first state natural area- Parfrey's Glen.

Located minutes away from Devil's Lake State Park is Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area. It's thrilling to see in the summer and even more exciting to discover in the winter. It's a huge, deep gorge with rough rock walls on either side of it, covered in spongy green carpet moss. Our very own, slot canyon that dives into the Baraboo Hills. As you wander further into the gorge, the walls soot some one-hundred feet up into the surrounding forest. Sandstone walls with quartzite boulders and pebbles mended into them. Parfrey's Glen was designated as Wisconsin's first State Natural Area in 1952 so it's quite a special place, According to the Wisconsin DNR, it's home to rare threatened plants like the round stemmed false foxglove and northern monkshood. Two threatened birds seek refuge here like the cerulean warbler and Acadian flycatcher, so make sure on your visit to practice leave no trace and show some respect for this fragile area.

When I went to hike it, the once-bustling creek was completely frozen over- as were the few smaller waterfalls  at the end of the gorge. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the terminus of the gorge from the parking lot trailhead. The approach hike is about a mile and is insanely slippery and uneven so I'd strongly recommend using either snowshoes, wrap-on spike treads for the bottom of your boots or even crampons if you visit Parfrey's Glen in the winter. Year-round, it's an absolutely breath-taking spectacle to see. Prepare to have your jaw drop and gasp in amazement.

Oh- and while you're in the area...go check out Natural Bridge State Park, home to the largest natural arch in Wisconsin.


*Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area is a day-use only area located at County Road DL, in Merimac, WI 53561 just minutes away from the entrance to Devil's Lake State Park. Park admission fees are required (daily or annual). There are pit-toilets, a drinking fountain and picnic tables. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs adjacent to this property.*