One of the main reasons our family headed to Janesville, Wisconsin was the opportunity to hike a portion of the Ice Age Trail (IAT). Part of the 1800-mile trail can be found right in Janesville running along the Rock River, the Devil’s Staircase. Don’t let the ominous name fool you! It was a beautiful hike perfect for my not-so-little adventurers. We loved it!
Devil’s Staircase can be found in Riverside Park, one of Janesville’s largest parks on the north of downtown. Finding Riverside Park was pretty easy, although finding the Devil’s Staircase trail head took more effort. My advice would be to park by the baseball field and tennis courts close to the North Pavillion. To the kids’ surprise, they were happy to find a playground by the parking lot. There was also a Kids Zone which younger kids would love.
Our Experience Hiking Devil’s Staircase:
After parking, we found the sign to the trail head by the river and North Pavillion. The kids were happy to take a few minutes to swing away and play in the sand. Note: Bathrooms are located by the trail.
From this point on, we climbed up a flight of stone steps originally built by the CCC. And no, these are not the “devil’s staircase,” though it may feel like it. Once at the top we veered right to follow the trail (look for yellow blazes on the tree.)
After a few minutes we were bathed in green and the trees’ shadows gave us much needed shade from the early summer heat. Although it was only half a mile, we found a variety of steps, uphills and downhills, bluffs towering on one side and the Rock River on the other. It kept everything exciting and adventurous. But because we were so close to the edge, it was just a bit nerve-wrecking (for us adults anyways.)
After getting accustomed to the terrain, we all marveled at the scenery before us. It felt like we transported to another world. Just gorgeous!
We did, however, find graffiti on the rocks which saddened us. Despite this, it was still a beautiful experience. The trail is an out-and-back trail meaning that once we reached the end signaled by the bench we turned back around.
Overall, I would say this hike is moderate in difficulty because of the stairs. I would definitely keep on eye on my kids because of how close we were to the edge. If it did rain, I can see it being muddy and therefore slippery. Since my kids are older and are used to hiking, I didn’t worry too much. My kids really enjoyed this adventure!
Explore the Rest of Riverside Park
Right by trail head are swings with a sandy bottom. My kids had a blast jumping off the swings here. There is also a mommy and me swing as well as a digger machine to play with. Other park amenities at Riverside Park include a larger playground, a splash pad, baseball fields, a little kiddie area, and more. It’s huge! I wish we had more time to explore.
Looking for more playground fun? Don’t miss Camden Playground at Palmer Park!
Address: Riverside Park, 2600 Parkside Drive, Janesville, WI