Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area

As usual, a weekend forecast for snow, wind and generally miserable weather leading up to the class I was teaching last weekend with Chris at Devil’s Lake had us gripping all week….for no reason…mostly.  Saturday was unpleasant (cold, extremely windy) for half the day, but conditions improved as the day went along.  Sunday was supposed to feature temps in the 30’s and the possibility of snow, however it was actually in the mid-40’s with nary a cloud in they sky.  In other words, basically a perfect day to be at Devil’s Lake.

Unfortunately, both Chris and I have had surgery in the past 2 months so climbing was not really high on our priority lists, nor was it high on the priority list of our students apparently.  With perfect weather taking shape on Sunday and a few hours left in the class, we hiked around Devil’s Lake a bit and then headed to Parfrey’s Glen State Natural area just outside the main area of the park.

I have been to Devil’s Lake and driven by the entrance to Parfrey’s Glen dozens of times without stopping so I was psyched to finally pay a visit.  The trail meanders along a stream (or raging river currently) for about a half mile until you start to get into the Glen itself.  Here is where you begin to wonder if you aren’t in a different state.  As you continue up into the Glen, walls of rock as high as 50 feet start to take shape on either side of you.

One of the more amazing parts about ‘The Glen’ is the ability it gives you to see the layers of rock that have formed.  The walls are composed of alternating layers of sandstone and quartzite.
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  Of course, quartzite is actually made of sandstone so it makes sense to see them together.
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  Attempting to visualize how these bands formed separately over the course of millions of years and then were carved out into the valley that we see today is an entirely different matter though.  Not so good for climbing, but it provides an interesting glimpse into the natural history of the area.
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Overall it was a great weekend, especially when compared with what the weather could have been (allegedly).  Check out the rest of the pictures below (if you are reading this via an RSS reader it is helpful to visit the actual post to browse the photos):

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12 Responses to Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area

  1. Tony April 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Many questions.  First, were you up there on saturday as well? Second, what class were you teaching?  Third, where were you guys set up?
    On a side note, good thing we didn’t go to the west bluff, considering how much water is on the cottage road in that picture.

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  2. The Narc April 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm #


    1) Yes
    2) Class with UWM – Climbing and Natural history
    3) West Bluff til 4pm then Birfday Rocks until sundown
    4) The access to most of the area was not affected by said flooding, just stuff along the base of tumbled rocks trail.  That rock could probably have been reached via alternate methods requiring more scrambling/talus routefinding.


    Please confirm that you were not the naked man we saw jump into the lake from the eastern shores along the railroad tracks.

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  3. Nate-Dawg April 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    Confirmation, not granted, as Zach and I set up a Toprope, tony slummed off into the woods. We heard a yell, and looked out over the lake, where something was coming up the rocks. Golem?
    NO, Tony naked jumping into the frigid waters of The Lake!!
    That kid sure is into some strange stuff.

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  4. The Narc April 29, 2008 at 7:28 am #

    Fortunately we were too far away to make a positive ID on the foolface…

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  5. sock hands April 29, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    there is a centipede that climbs up to cave ceilings, dangles the front half of its body in the air and catches bats out of the sky to eat them.  it grows as large as a human forearm.
    because of this, i must warn you to be very wary when taking nature photos of such evil bugs.
    i may have to climb slabs only forevermore.

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  6. The Narc April 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    the slabs of devil’s lake are covered with asian lady bugs and wasps…and most dangerous of all…FIBS!!!

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  7. Sarah April 29, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Don’t forget about the Boy Scouts Brian.

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  8. The Narc April 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    Ahh yes…known for their distinctive external frame packs and penchant for using classic climbs for rappeling down…always beware the rotund gaggles of boy scouts roaming around The Lake

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  9. vintage April 29, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    It was a great day at the lake, the narc even climbed one handed upa climb the entire class couldn’t get 4 moves into.  Way to show off!

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  10. The Narc April 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm #


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