Door County Hiking Trails



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Door Bluff Headlands County Park
Door Bluff Headlands County Park

Getting close to nature is one of the top reasons to visit Door County. The rocky Door peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan and Green Bay. The natural scenery and vistas of Door County landscape make for ideal hiking. The county is home to 5 large state parks - each with a network of hiking trails. The Door peninsula is also orbited by a number of islands waiting to be explored. This article spotlights some of the most popular hiking trails Door County. 




The Eagle Trail at Peninsula State Park 

Community: Fish Creek
Trail Miles: 2.5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Fee: State Park Sticker

Eagle Trail
Eagle Trail


The Eagle Trail is among the most popular hiking trails in Wisconsin. It descends a bluff and follows along a narrow rocky and forested shoreline in the shadow of the imposing Niagara Escarpment. Its uneven surface is laced with roots and stones - making it a challenging walk. You'll find caves, beautiful shoreline, and deep and dark cedar forests on the Eagle Trail.

EAGLE TRAIL ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



The Black Trail at Cave Point County Park 

Community: Jacksonport, Sturgeon Bay
Trail Miles: 3 mile lollipop 
Difficulty: Easy
Fee: Free

Cave Point
Cave Point

Cave Point is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in Door County. The scenic shoreline is pounded with Lake Michigan waves which have carved out sea caves.

Most visitors to Cave Point only go to see the photogenic shoreline. But the park is also host to a rustic nature trail - the Black Loop. This trail begins at the neighboring Whitefish Dunes State Park. It makes a large loop in Cave Point County Park as it passes through birch and hardwood forest. You'll encounter deer and porcupine which are in abundance along this trail. You can take a connector trail down to waters edge to witness the sculpted shoreline.

CAVE POINT ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



The Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park

Community: Jacksonport, Sturgeon Bay, Whitefish Bay
Trail Miles: 2.8 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy
Fee: State Park Sticker

Whitefish Dunes
Whitefish Dunes

Though this trail is less storied than other Door County hiking trails, The Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes ranks high on my list of Wisconsin hiking experiences. The enormous dunes at Whitefish Bay are spectacle demanding to be seen. On the Red Trail you experience these dunes by walking through them and over them. A single track cordwalk takes hikers into the marvelously preserved state natural area. The scenery along this trail screams to be painted in watercolors.

RED TRAIL ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Door Bluff Headlands County Park

Community: Ellison Bay, Liberty Grove
Trail Miles: 2.5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Fee: Free

Door Bluff Headlands County Park
Door Bluff Headlands County Park


One of the least well known or visited parks in Door County is at the tip of the door at Ellison Bay. Door Bluff Headlands County Park is perched on a high bluff overlooking the Deaths Door Passage and Green Bay. Views of the water are hard to get from within this densely tangled and magical forest. You'll feel like you've stepped into a fantasy novel on hikes at Door Bluff Headlands.

DOOR BLUFF HEADLANDS ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Ellison Bluff State Natural Area

Community: Ellison Bay
Trail Miles: 1 mile loop
Difficulty: Very Easy
Fee: Free

Ellison Bluff
Ellison Bluff


The easy loop at Ellison Bluff travels through birch and cedar forests that are blanketed with rare wildflowers. A wide path of crushed stone makes for an easy walk on gentle terrain. But, the highlight of this trail is the observation deck that extends off Ellison Bluff for up close vies of the Niagara escarpment.

ELLISON BLUFF ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Toft Point State Natural Area

Community: Baileys Harbor
Trail Miles: 1 mile linear (2 mile out-n-back)
Difficulty: Easy
Fee: Free

Toft Point
Toft Point

An enormous state natural area preserves a forest that could easily be confused with a Canadian wilderness. This former quarry was generously entrusted to the state by the Toft family. Remnants of the Toft homestead and guest cabins remain to be explored.

This trail is short and very easy. Further exploration of Toft Point requires a compass, a map, and wilderness skills. Naturalists and bird watchers who venture into the Toft Point wilderness will be rewarded with abundant wildlife and plant life encounters.


TOFT POINT ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Trails at Newport State Park

Community: Newport State Park
Trail Miles: Varies
Difficulty: Moderate
Fee: State Park Sticker

Newport State Park
Newport State Park


Newport State Park is Wisconsin's first and only State Wilderness Park. This large continuous property is a welcome retreat for more serious hikers looking to pack on miles, and backpackers can even hike camp to camp within the park. I recommend the Europe Bay Trail for day hikers. Newport State Park is also one of only a handful of official dark sky designated places in the world; so prepare for some serious star gazing at night.

NEWPORT STATE PARK ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Plum Island Hiking Trails

Community: Plum Island
Trail Miles: 5 miles combined
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Plum Island
Plum Island


If you can navigate a boat or kayak through the perilous Deaths Door passage out to Plum Island you'll be rewarded with miles of fascinating hiking trails. Formerly a Coast Guard Station, Plum Island has been recently designated as a national wildlife refuge. It is now open for the public to explore. Designated hiking trails lead past historic buildings, lighthouses, to a wetlands area, and along beaches. You'll find Wisconsin's most rare flowering plants at Plum Island and have the opportunity to photograph Bald Eagles. If you are ever offered the opportunity to join an excursion out to Plum Island, take it.

PLUM ISLAND ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Ridges Sanctuary 

Community: Baileys Harbor
Trail Miles: 5 miles combined
Difficulty: Very Easy

Ridges Sanctuary
Ridges Sanctuary


Wisconsin's first land trust preserved the curious land formations of parallel swales and ridges which support an abundance of wildlife and rare plants. The Ridges Sanctuary features several miles of networked trails that are easy for the whole family to enjoy. You'll also encounter a historic range light and other historic remnants of early settlement in Door County.

RIDGES SANCTUARY ARTICLE AND TRAIL MAP HERE



Rock Island State Park - Thordarson Loop

Community: Rock Island
Trail Miles: 5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Fee: State Park Sticker


I keep getting rained out from my voyages to Rock Island, so this one is still on my to do list. This is one of the most popular adventure hiking trails in the State. It's an island hike, and requires traveling on two ferries - one to Washington Island, and the second to Rock Island. Once you get there a rocky bluff and shoreline similar to the Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park. There are all kinds of other treasures to find: a historic and beautiful boat house, rustic backpackers campsites, beaches, and lighthouses.

Link to Rock Island State Park Site



The Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Sturgeon Bay Segment

Community: Sturgeon Bay
Trail Miles: 14 mile linear
Difficulty: Moderate


Another DC hike on my to do list is the Ice Age Trail Segment in Sturgeon Bay. It begins at Forestville and follows the Anahpee State Trail - a bike trail paved with crushed stone. At Sturgeon Bay the yellow blazes of the Ice Age Trail lead along residential streets and through downtown. The trail finishes at Pottawatomie State Park at an overlook tower. This is the Easter Terminus of the IAT.

Hiking With Chase Blog About the IAT Sturgeon Bay Segment