Dog-Friendly Day Trip: Baraboo, WI - From a Local
It’s a beautiful day and you’re dying to get out and explore, but you don’t want to leave your pup behind. (This is pretty much how I feel everyday in the summer.) Great news–I have the best day trip for you and your pup! Pack your walking shoes, some snacks and kibble, water, a water bowl, and waste bags, and make your way to Baraboo, WI.
I love Baraboo and often think of how lucky I am to live here. In the past few years, I’ve watched as quite a few dog-friendly patios were opened, and it’s been really fun to watch our little town become more dog-friendly every summer. From a girl who loves to bring her two labs everywhere…Here is the perfect Dog-Friendly Day Trip: Baraboo, WI!
This is your friendly reminder to always bring waste bags, a water bowl, and water with you everywhere you go while traveling with your pups. Be sure to pick up after your pet and keep them on a leash at all times in public spaces to ensure areas stay dog-friendly.
STEP #1: Start your day with a hike
When you get to Baraboo, you might need to start by getting those zoomies out. I highly recommend starting your day with a hike. I know the obvious choice for hiking in Baraboo is the one and only Devils Lake State Park, and that’s for good reason. Devils Lake is stunning, a great workout, and the most visited state park. If you plan to visit Devils Lake during the peak of summer, I recommend going early. Before 9am is usually best for low crowds.
Option 1: East Bluff Loop - Our favorite hike consists of going up East Bluff to Devil's Doorway (just to take in the view) and then taking East Bluff Woods back to the trail head. We do this loop at least two times a week in the spring, summer, and fall, and it’s right around 3 miles. You can use this map from AllTrails as a guide, but be sure to follow the signs down to Devil’s Doorway, as that isn’t on this map.
If your pup doesn’t do well with crowds or busy trails, don’t worry! There are lots of other incredible hikes in Baraboo that are a lot less busy than the Devils Lake bluffs. My next two trail recommendations still start in Devils Lake State Park. Make your way to Steinke Basin, the most underrated spot in the park. These wide grassy trails are perfect to give you and your pup extra room to pass others.
Option 2: Steinke Basin Loop - This loop is beautiful and usually pretty quiet. It’s just under 3 miles and a very easy stroll. We love this trail and like to visit during fall because you’re surrounded by pretty yellow leaves. This trail is also great for winter. The wide trails make it easy to stay on the path, are great for snowshoeing, and are relatively well marked. Heads up–it can be very muddy here in the spring.
Option 3: Another option also starting at Steinke Basin is the Uplands Loop. This trail is also beautiful; there are great views and it’s thickly wooded. But like the Steinke Basin Loop, it does not have views of the lake. This loop is a little more challenging and is about 4 miles long. This hike does the trick when I’m looking to challenge myself or add a little more mileage but don’t want to deal with people, as it’s usually pretty empty.
STEP #2: Go for a swim
Devils Lake State Park offers 3 different dog-friendly swim areas. Even when the park is busy, we always seem to be able to find a spot to swim. When it comes to actually getting into the water and swimming with your pups…Devils Lake is the best option I’ve found so far.
Option 1: If we hike on the East Bluff trails (option 1 above), we like to go to the leashed pet swim area on the North Shore, located right by the boat launch. Bring some water shoes and wade out with the doggos.
If we hike at Steinke Basin we take the scenic drive to the South Shore. There are two dog swim areas on the South Shore, and they’re usually not as busy as the North Shore.
Option 2: Along the South Shore boardwalk, you’ll find another nice leashed swimming area. This spot is my personal favorite! It gets deep a little quicker than it does on the North Shore, and the bottom is sandy the whole time, instead of being a little more rocky like on the North Shore. It’s so nice to swim here with the pups after crushing some miles!
Option 3: The last dog-friendly swim area is in the South Shore boat launch. This paved launch is still used by boaters, but to the right side of it is an off-leash dog swim area. This is our favorite area to let the dogs swim and fetch at their full capacity.
STEP #3: Drink local
Just outside of Devils Lake are two amazing spots to drink local. They both have great patios for your soggy dog to dry off and nap on as you enjoy a drink and some grub.
Option 1: About half a mile from the North Shore entrance is Tumbled Rock Brewery & Kitchen. They have a massive, beautiful patio and often have live music in the summer. They offer unique brews and some truly incredible food. I highly recommend the curds–we think they’re the best curds in the area! Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the host, and they will sit you at a dog-friendly table on the patio.
Option 2: Balanced Rock Winery sits about a mile and a half from the North Shore entrance and is totally worth a visit. You can seat yourself outside with your pup, but pup will have to wait there as you go inside to order at the bar. They have a vast selection of wines, a couple of wine cocktails (I highly recommend them!), and some great food. We love their appetizer selection and always come back for their spinach and artichoke dip, but there is also pizza, tacos, and charcuterie.