A Cruise Through Rural Door County to Cave Point and Whitefish Dunes
I want to share a great cycle ride that I have taken many times in the past. On this ride I will take you up the "quiet" side of the county, Highway 57, stopping at Cave Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park.
On our return we'll cruise the less traveled county roads that run through rural Sevastopol Township. As you leave Sturgeon Bay you will travel north on Highway 42/57 until the two split. When I first moved to Sturgeon Bay 24 years ago, I was told of an old saying that stuck with me, "42 more to do, 57 closer to heaven".
To me any road that leads into Door County is a little of both! As you near the stoplight you will notice The Mill Supper Club on your right which is known for their excellent baked chicken. They also offer prime rib, fish, and steak dinners. As you take the big slow curve onto Highway 57 you are now entering the Township of Sevastopol. The Township covers nearly 50 square miles and is home to 2,680 year round residents and a number of seasonals. The Township is bordered by Sturgeon Bay to its south (County T), Jacksonport and Egg Harbor to the north (Townline Road), Green Bay to the west, and to the east Lake Michigan. As you cruise along the countryside you will find a mixture of family farm operations and undeveloped natural areas. Less than a mile north you will see The Farm, a living museum of rural America. Reader's Digest said this of The Farm, "Children and adults as well, are likely to be charmed, entertained, and educated." Their website is www.thefarmindoorcounty.com. Continuing north you will pass through the small town of Institute, home of the Sevastopol Pioneers. The origin of Sevastopol's name is an interesting one. Peter Joseph Simon, a geography buff, recognized the geographical similarities between the famous Black Sea port "Sebastopol", and the Door County area. Both are about 45 degrees north latitude, on a peninsula, and have limestone bedrock. In April 1860 the name was adopted after the question was submitted to voters. A spelling error occured when the name was officially recorded resulting in the name "Sevastopol". The school itself originated in 1918 when Miss Katherine Conley, County Superintendent of Schools, banded seven of the eight district schools together in consolidation. It was the first rural area north of Milwaukee to so organize. It was also one of the very first in the United States. The first floor was completed in 1921 and September 2nd 1924 was the first day of school in the new building. A quote from the Door County Advocate said: "When the history of Sevastopol is written, September 2nd, 1924, will mark the beginning of an epoch. On all our highways and byways last Tuesday morning could be seen little groups of shining-faced youngsters waiting patiently the arrival of the new consolidated busses. It was a sight to inspire the pen of a poet or a vision of a prophet." The nickname "Pioneer" was chosen as it seemed appropriate since the school was pioneering in consolidation. I thank Jim Adams, a long time social studies teacher at Sevastopol, for his research. As you travel north you will travel through Valmy and about a mile further you will see the sign for Cave Point County Park. Take a right on County WD (Clarks Lake Road) and this will take you right to Cave Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park. As you enter the park slow down and enjoy the scenery as you meander along the winding road. The view is charming and in the fall when the colors are at their peak...well, you can imagine! Cave Point is a popular sightseeing spot and one that we visit a lot when we entertain guests. Here at the park you will witness the picturesque shoreline cliffs of Lake Michigan. On a windy day waves will pound against the shore shooting spray high above the bluff's edge. Through the passage of time these waves have hollowed out sea caves which make for a stunning view of the limestone bluffs, some rising 30 feet high! The rocky bluffs are part of the Niagra Escarpment which runs along some of the Great Lakes and were formed 400 million years ago. The fossil filled rock formations are stunning and a haven for photographers who marvel at the phenomenon. The park offers picnic facilities, restrooms, and a newly built gazebo which can be reserved for special events. Whitefish Dunes lies adjacent to Cave Point and is one of the five state parks Door County has to offer. Conservationists from the past recognized the need to protect the rare plants and sand dunes located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. In July of 1967, Whitefish Dunes with its' 867 acres was established. In 1982, 230 of those acres were designated as a state natural area. For those that enjoy hiking, there are 14 miles of well marked trails that are quite scenic! There are boardwalks throughout the park which will take you through a winding creek and wetlands. Take a hike on the red trail to "Old Baldy" the tallest dune in the park at 93 feet. During the winter months 8 miles of trails are groomed for cross country skiing. During the summer months young and old like to walk along the 6000 feet of sandy beach and swim in Lake Michigan. On our return trip to we will head back on Clarks Lake Road , cross Highway 57, and cruise the rural back roads of Sevastopol township. If you take a right on Mathey Road this will take you directly to the Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial, the subject of my next month's blog. Enjoy the scenery of the rural Door County countryside. Until next time I will leave you with a favorite quote: "Well I don't know, but I've been told, you never slow down, you never grow old" -Tom Petty