Today I hosted a hike at Parfrey’s Glen. This narrow gorge is located in the Baraboo Hills and was the first area in our state to be designated as a State Natural Area. What I like about this hike is that the topography changes so dramatically in such a short distance.
The trail starts off as a flat pavement/gravel path.
The first change I notice is that once in thicker woods the path becomes less even and the valley starts closing in.
Then things really start to look, well, like a glen. The terrain gets rockier as you approach the gorge.
The inside of the glen is cozy, but wide at first.
Along the way there are always impressive ice formations this time of year. The one below resembles a rock fall.
The second part of the glen is a bit narrower. A special spot is a rock face that looks like a lion roaring. I always have to get a picture of it when I pass through. Thank you, Jon, for pointing this out to me a few years ago.
Near the end of the trail you have to climb over a pile of boulders. In the picture below you can see the remains of stone steps from when the glen was more accessible. The gorge even had a boardwalk up until the late 2000s when floods washed it away. The DNR has not rebuilt the boardwalk and I treasure the more natural vibe the place has now. The only downside is that crossing the stream (as you have to to move up the glen) can get you a little wet. That’s more of a problem now that the temperatures are below freezing than it is in the summer.
Just as suddenly the glen begins it ends in a small waterfall. The terrain becomes more open again as if the rock walls never existed in the first place.
The best thing about this being an out-and-back hike is that you get to experience the magic of the glen again heading out. As we headed back, it began to snow lightly. By the time we were about halfway back the snow intensified, bringing with it extra quiet and calm as we hiked out.