Parfrey’s Glen is a favorite hiking destination. It’s located within Devil’s Lake State Park, just south of Devil’s Lake itself. Parfrey’s Glen was Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area. It’s a gorge carved into the local sandstone by the meltwater of the last ice age. How cool is that?
Parfrey’s Glen used to be a well-kept secret, but not any more. There were dozens of people there on this gorgeous fall day. We arrived late in the day, so most of the hikers were on the way out. It’s very peaceful, and feels ancient and magical. It’s been too long since I was here last.
The Glen is named for Robert Parfrey, an Englishman who owned the land from the end of the Civil War to the 1870s. Parfrey used the Glen as a gristmill, complete with a dam and a mill pond. I’m happy to call it after Parfrey as long as all that mill stuff is long gone. Honestly, the idea of the Glen being “improved” by humans is awful.
Back in the early 2000s, the DNR put in walkways and bridges to make it easier to access the Glen. But nature bats last, and serious floods in 2008 and 2010 washed them all away. Once again, we have to ford the stream and climb over some serious fallen rock to reach the waterfall at the end of the canyon. How cool is that?
No famous people are immortalized in this shot. There was one with me, but she kept herself behind the lens.
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Parfrey’s Glen is Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area and is unquestionably the most visited state natural area outside of Devil’s Lake State Park. The glen is