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What to Do in Door County in the Winter? Try Snowshoeing


Winter is a magical time of year in Door County when snow blankets the ground. You can explore the tranquil settings, some only reachable on foot, using snowshoes. The specialized outdoor gear disperses your weight so you can walk on top of the snow. This winter activity is suitable for all ages and skill levels, beginner-friendly, and affordable. And Door County has plenty of places to stretch your legs on wintery trails.

Ridges Sanctuary, Baileys Harbor

The Ridges Sanctuary is Wisconsin's first land trust and protects the most biologically diverse ecosystem in the state. Come wintertime the trails become an ideal place for snowshoeing. You can join a local Ridges naturalist on a winter guided hike who will share the cultural and natural history of the ridges and swales and highlight the peace and beauty of the winter woods. Snowshoe rentals are available from the Cook-Albert Fuller Center for $5 a pair.

Ellison Bluff County Park, Ellison Bay

The 1.2-mile loop trail at Ellison Bluff County Park is an easy route and popular for snowshoers and hikers during the winter months. Along with beautiful scenic views through a northern mesic forest that contains sugar maple, red oak, beech and white ash, it's an interpretive trail with 10 signs providing insights into the park and its flora and fauna.

Aerial footage of Ellison Bay.

Newport State Park, Ellison Bay

Located at the far end of the Door Peninsula is Newport State Park. The International Dark Sky Park is not only a perfect destination for stargazing, but you can also explore about five miles of snowshoeing trails. The 1.4-mile Sugarbush Trail is a loop that starts at Lot 4 and winds through the Europe Bay Woods State Natural Area. Upland Trail is a 2-mile loop from the Visitor Center parking lot heading north to the trailhead. Lake Michigan Beach in Newport also features miles of sandy beaches and bedrock shores that can be explored by snowshoes and is accessible from the parking area at the end of Europe Bay Rd or Lot 3.

Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek

Considered Wisconsin's most complete park, Peninsula State Park offers six miles of designated snowshoe and hiking trails. Minnehaha Trail is a 2-mile out-and-back trail that starts at Nicolet Beach and heads east along Green Bay through the South Nicolet Campground. This hike can be extended east along Eagle Trail with amazing views of Eagle Bluff, be aware of rocky areas and proceed with caution. The 2-mile Sentinel Trail Loop starts by Eagle Tower adjacent to the Peninsula Park Beech Forest State Natural Area and loops through maple beech forests with scattered hemlock trees. The 1.4-mile Nature Center Loop starts and ends at the Nature Center along Hidden Bluff Trail below a 100' limestone bluff and traverses above the bluff. The 1.4-mile out and back Trail Trampers begin at Nicolet Beach, heading north on Shore Road to the trailhead just before the boat launch leading snowshoers to the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which is inaccessible to vehicles in winter.

Woman throwing snow in the air at Peninsula State Park.

Cave Point County Park, Jacksonport

Discover spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the eastern shore of the Door Peninsula at Cave Point County Park. The half-mile hiking trail is suitable for snowshoes and stretches through the forest of birch, maple and beech trees. During the winter, you'll be treated to ice formations while hearing the waves crashing onto the rocks.

Meridian County Park, Jacksonport

Meridian County Park is mainly underdeveloped, providing an excellent habitat for wildlife. An unmarked trail at the wayside on the southwest corner of the park offers access to the undeveloped areas through a forest canopy of hemlock, sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, red maple, white cedar, and several white pines.

Ahnapee State Trail, Sturgeon Bay

The Ahnapee State Trail is a 48-mile, county-operated trail that winds south along the beautiful Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers to Algoma, Casco, Luxemburg, and Kewaunee. Along this trail is the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, offering ungroomed trails suitable for snowshoeing. Be aware snowmobiles frequent this trail. 

Crossroads at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay

Explore some of the beautiful 200-acre nature preserve at Crossroads at Big Creek on snowshoes. Miles of groomed trails are open to families, groups, and individuals. Saturday and Sundays, when snow permits, the Crossroads at Big Creek offers a Ski-for-Free Program with snowshoe equipment on loan for use at the preserve on a first-come, first-served basis.

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay

Discover 1,200 acres of gently rolling upland terrain bordered by steep slopes and rugged limestone cliffs at Potawatomi State Park on the shore of Sturgeon Bay. Winter hikers and snowshoers are welcome to explore most areas of the park, with three designated snowshoeing trials. These include the 0.5-mile Nature Trail, a 1-mile loop at the picnic area on the south shoreline known as the Picnic Loop, and a 1-mile section of the Ice Age Trail following the shoreline just north of the campground.

Whitefish Dunes State Park, Sturgeon Bay

 During the winter, Whitefish Dunes State Park offers approximately 3 miles of ungroomed winter trails primarily used for winter hiking and snowshoeing. The Black Trail is a 2.1-mile winter trail with a smaller loop option that takes you through a forest of mixed hardwoods with shallow soil and many exposed rocks. The dolomitic limestone bedrock near the surface is part of the Niagara Escarpment, which lies beneath all of Door County and forms the rock ledges along the northeast side of the beach shoreline. The Beach Winter Trail is an 0.8-mile loop. What's more, hiking and snowshoeing are allowed on any trail if a designated ski trail is not groomed due to limited snowfall. When you're ready to warm up, find programs, exhibits, and displays in the nature center.

Couple snowshoeing together through Whitefish Dunes State Park in Sturgeon Bay.

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