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Door County is an amazing destination for those who love to hit the trail. On a peninsula where you're never far from a coastline, almost any trail will lead to a water view, scenic overlook, or secluded wetland.
With five state parks, one state trail, and 19 county parks, plus dozens of preserved natural areas, you'll never have to travel far to find a trailhead. Here are our top 5 hiking locations in Door County (feel free to argue with us, we won't be offended!).
1. You can't beat Peninsula State Park, with trails through upland woods, along the bluff, and of course the ever popular Sunset Bike Path. But there's one trail that stands above them all both literally and figuratively. Eagle Trail takes you from an amazing bluff-top view, down a difficult rocky descent, and along the shoreline of Ephraim Harbor below the bluff. Put this trail on your bucket list.
2. For those of you that like more rigorous hikes with undeveloped dirt trails, Door Bluff Headlands County Park might be the spot for you. This less-traveled park north of Ellison Bay features towering bluffs, rugged shoreline, and incredible views that stretch to Washington Island and beyond.
3. Want to get away? Head to Rock Island State Park, which requires crossing Death's Door, then taking a second ferry to Rock Island. You're greeted by the beautiful Thordarson Boathouse, then you're off the only way you can be on the island – on foot. Hike to the Pottawatomie Light, where you can see St. Martin Island, or cross the island to one of the county's best sand beaches.
4. Cave Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park border each other. One of the most beautiful spots on the Lake Michigan side of the county, Cave Point’s rugged limestone has been torn away by Michigan’s powerful waves. As you head south along the shoreline trail, the jagged limestone gives way to Whitefish Dunes massive expanse of sandy beach. Plan on spending a few hours exploring all this area has to offer.
5. If you are looking for longer hikes, Newport State Park offers an extensive trail system over relatively flat terrain. It also is home to a few longer stretches of beach on Lake Michigan. Take off the footwear and hike in the sand and surf for a mile before cutting up onto the forested trails again! This park, like many in the area, has amazing fall colors! State parks also allow well behaved, leashed dogs.
BONUS: One of the most diverse natural areas in the state, The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor has to be a stop for any nature lover. The well-developed trail system is fairly flat and accessible for all age levels. For a small fee, you can go on a self-guided hike or take a guided hike with a naturalist. The trails traverse ancient sand dunes that were once the beaches of Lake Michigan. Hundreds of species of plants and animals can be seen here, some of which are endangered. In 2017 the Ridges opened an expanded handicapped-accessible boardwalk that enables people with disabilities to experience this beautiful preserve.
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