A few years ago I found some old tourist guides at a library book sale and a few circa 1930s pamphlets on the Baraboo/Wisconsin Dells area of Wisconsin. The directions to the different sites were framed in reference to landmarks like stone barns and large oak trees! This is how I learned about Pewit’s Nest.
Pewit’s Nest has been a state natural area since 1985 and is more visited by local people than tourists from outside the area. It is a long canyon in the center of crop fields with Skillet Creek running through its bottom and several water falls along its length. The gorge is 30 to 40 feet deep. At its deepest point, there is a waterfall with a round basin worn by the whirlpool of falling rushing water. While we were there, several young guys climbed out onto the rocky ledge and jumped into this pool. They had to jump outward to avoid injury. (The Cambrian limestone is a harsh mistress.) My heart almost stopped and I thought, “Those boys are going to break their mother’s hearts or their necks—probably both!”
The trails in his natural area follow the top of the gorge and are not maintained, so you hike at your own risk. I wouldn’t recommend bringing young children or those who do not listen or obey. You would need a very long-handled net to fish them out of Skillet Creek!
Devil’s Lake State Park was our next stop. This is the most visited state park in Wisconsin and for good reason. Its central point is Spirit Lake (now called Devil’s Lake), a lake left behind by receding glaciers a long time ago. It was a hot, sunny day and we saw a lot of people swimming, boating, and fishing. The glacier also left behind huge fields of tumbled rock that extend all the way down to the water in places.
There are 29 miles of hiking trails in the park, and we have explored most of the trails around the lake. We hiked the West Bluff Trail and the Tumbled Rock Trail at its base (about a 3-mile walk), which allowed us to park and hike a loop back to our van. We had never hiked these trails before.
I especially enjoyed the view once we got to the top of the rocky bluff overlooking the lake. (Unfortunately, people have a nasty habit of climbing out on and falling off of these high rocks, so supervise your children or you may have to use the emergency phones posted at intervals along the bluffs.)
We were pretty hot and tired on the way home and were happy to stop for a Blizzard at the excellent Dairy Queen in Sauk City. It was a good day, and my husband got to visit some of his favorite places. Begonia