If you’re eager to hit the trails, Door County has seemingly endless options for all your hiking ambitions. With five state parks and more than double the natural areas, you don’t have to go far to find yourself on a gorgeous path through woods, dunes, cedar swamp, bluffs, and shoreline. Whether you are seeking a leisurely stroll through the pines or a more rigorous, heart-pumping adventure, you’re bound to find a trail you’ll love.
Here are 10 excellent options for fall and year round adventure:
For a Remote Expedition:
Thordarson Loop at Rock Island State Park
This northernmost state park is a short ferry ride from Washington Island and it is an explorer's paradise. There are no cars, no bikes, and no stores—it's just you and nature. Explore historical structures, a restored lighthouse, an expansive sand beach, and rustic back-country campsites. The largest loop, Thordarson Loop, is just over 5 miles long and takes you past Pottawatomie Lighthouse, Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse, and a beautiful old water tower. If you want to catch sight the spectacular fall landscapes, go on or before October 14—the Karfi Ferry to the island closes for the season on the 15th.
For a Challenge Along the Bluffs:
Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park
This moderate to difficult two-mile trail is great any time of year. Start atop the towering limestone bluffs of the Niagara Escarpment and head down to the waters of Eagle Harbor. In winter the snow-topped village of Ephraim is picturesque across the frozen bay. In spring mini waterfalls trickle along your hike before you find yourself staring in awe at the bluffs at your side.
For a Wooded Year Round Walk:
White Cliff Nature Preserve, Egg Harbor
This property is a part of the Door County Land Trust, a non-profit organization focused on preserving Door County’s unique spaces. It’s near Egg Harbor and is heavily forested to protect you from biting winter winds off of Green Bay. The 1.5-mile trail on the property is easy to navigate, making it perfect for either snowshoes or just hiking boots.
For Smooth Sailing: Ice Age Trail, Potawatomi State Park
Head to Potawatomi State Park to get a small sample of the Ice Age Trail. This 1,200-mile long state trail begins in northwest Wisconsin and ends with 2.8 smooth miles winding through Potawatomi State Park. This park is just minutes from downtown Sturgeon Bay and provides stunning views of Green Bay waters.
For a Snow Day Outing:
Crossroads at Big Creek
This two-mile hiking trail can connects you to nature while still being just outside of downtown Sturgeon Bay. The trails are enjoyable year round and are a favorite place to snowshoe when the inches start to pile up. Feeling extra fit? Crossroads offers a free cross country ski program throughout the winter, including equipment.
A Moderate Hike Along the Lake:
Lynd Point Loop, Newport State Park
Newport State Park is a serene escape to northwoods all year round. In fall the colors amongst the leaves are brilliant and in winter you’ll find yourself in a peaceful winter wonderland. The Lynd Point loop is of moderate difficulty, perfect for hiking boots or snowshoes, and offers fantastic views of Lake Michigan.
For the Long-Distance Hiker, Runner, or Cyclist:
Ahnapee State Trail
This 48-mile trail winds south from Sturgeon Bay along the beautiful Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers to Algoma, Casco, Luxemburg, and Kewaunee, passing by a mixture of evergreen glades, farmland, prairies, and wooded areas teeming with wildlife. The trail is open to walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, however, the trail is not groomed and users must share the trail with snowmobiles.
For a Hilly Hike on the Niagara Escarpment:
Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve
Found along the west-facing shores of Green Bay between Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay, the Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve is a sprawling landscape filled with scenery straight out of a picture postcard. Windswept fields, towering pine forests, ethereal wetlands and springs, cobbled lakeshore, and stretches of rural open space along Bay Shore Drive all contribute to the beauty of this special place. Hike the 2.5 miles of trail for views from the bottom and top of the bluffs. The bluff sections can be moderate to difficult.
For an Easy Stroll by the Creek:
Heins Creek Nature Preserve
Thousands of years ago, Kangaroo Lake was an embayment, or bay, open to the waters of Lake Michigan. Over time, waves and shore currents moved sand deposits, creating dunes that cut off the entrance to the bay, forming what we now call Kangaroo Lake. Heins Creek is a remnant of that former landscape, moving the waters of Kangaroo Lake through this isthmus of ancient dunes to connect with Lake Michigan once more. The full trail is three quarters of a mile on rolling and level terrain.
For a Diverse Nature Hike:
The Yellow Loop at Whitefish Dunes State Park
This loop changes scenery several times going through tall evergreens, sandy dunes, thick forest, and open prairies. There is an optional section that provides access to Clarke Lake and another that takes you to the Whitefish Creek.
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