Day Hikes in Door County
As a famously beautiful and biodiverse region with an abundance of natural spaces, Door County is the perfect place to get outdoors to relax and recharge in the beauty and solitude of the woods.
The area is rich in easy-to-moderate hiking trails that only take an hour or two to complete, but it’s also home to several longer trails for hikers looking to make the trek last a few extra hours or even a whole day.
Here are four trails that are perfect for taking things slow, stopping to appreciate the natural beauty of the region, and fully immersing oneself in nature.
Fern & Lynd Point Loop (Ellison Bay)
Located at Newport State Park and clocking in at around 2.5 miles, the Fern & Lynd Point Loop isn’t exactly a long-distance trail, but it can easily take a few hours to traverse if you stop to appreciate the many lake views, explore the tiny beaches and rocky shorelines you’ll find along the way, and venture down side trails.
The Fern Trail part of the hike is on a smooth, wide, and hard-packed dirt trail that features huge trees, marsh land, and beautifully illustrated signs that explain the area’s historic past or ecological significance.
The Lynd Trail portion takes hikers into new, slightly more difficult terrain. It features dense forest with huge trees, moss-covered rock formations, rock- and root-covered trail, semi-submerged outcroppings with miniature pools and streams, sand and crushed-shell beaches, and plenty of overlooks to stop and take in the sweeping lake views and rocky shoreline vistas.
Sunset Trail (Fish Creek)
Though technically a hiker-friendly bike path, the Sunset Trail is a nearly 9-mile crushed-gravel path that takes hikers through the forests and along the shoreline of Peninsula State Park. The trail features rock formations, bluffs, a marsh, cedar and maple trees, and numerous lookout points into the Green Bay along the way.
The trail has a few moderate hills but remains mostly flat and clear of rocks or roots, making it ideal for families with kids or those looking for distance without difficulty. The hike usually takes a few hours to complete, and if you prefer, bikes can be rented near the Fish Creek entrance to the park or from numerous rental companies around the county.
Red Trail & Yellow Trail (Sturgeon Bay)
Located within Whitefish Dunes State Park on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, the Red Trail (2.8 miles) and the Yellow Trail (4.2 miles) are intersecting footpaths that give hikers a tour of the park’s stunning coastal features. Hikers can take in amazing lake views, rugged cliffs and shoreline, sand dunes, boardwalks, and sandy beaches.
The trails also lead visitors to Old Baldy, the park’s tallest sand dune, where they can climb to the observation tour for views of Lake Michigan as well as the inland Clark Lake.
Europe Bay Trail/Hotz Trail Loop (Ellison Bay)
The approximately 7-mile Europe Bay Trail is part of the extensive trail system at Newport State Park.
This north-to-south running loop trail is unique in that it takes hikers across most of the park and provides a nearly full tour of all its offerings, including dense and untouched old-growth conifer forests, shoreline lookouts, hidden coves, a large inland lake (Europe Lake), and plentiful wildlife such as squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and birds.
The trail can be joined in many places throughout the park, but most people start at the southern end from the main parking lot (#3). It can also be joined on its north end, at the trailheads located off Europe Bay Road at Liberty Grove Town Park. The hike can also be made longer by adding on additional side trails that branch off the main trail.
Section Hikes & Multi-Day Trails
If you’re looking for even longer trails, look to the Ahnapee State Trail and the Ice Age Trail.
The Door County portion of the Ahnapee State Trail is a 12-mile walking and biking path that follows the route of an old railway line beginning at the trailhead in downtown Sturgeon Bay, running south past Forestville Dam County Park to County X. It includes rest stops in Sturgeon Bay, Maplewood and Forestville.
The Ice Age Trail is a 1,200 mile adventure trail that begins (or ends) in Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay. From there, the trail runs south, all the way to the county line near Forestville and beyond.
For even more information on hiking trails and areas, check out this guide to hiking in Door County.
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