Hiking Toft Point in Door County



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Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County

On the quiet side of Door County is a not often visited state natural area at Toft Point. There is a 1 mile linear hike (2 miles out-n-back) that cuts across this 700+ acre preserve. The trail passes beneath cedar, hemlock, white pine, and sugar maple canopies on its way out to the former homestead and guest cabins of the Toft family. Hikers enjoy taking the walk out to the cobblestone shoreline in a forest that feels remote and similar to those found in Canada. 





Old Quarry at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Old Quarry at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County



I first visited Toft Point as part of the Ridges Festival of Nature on Memorial Day weekend in 2017. This hike was led by a naturalist from the University of Green Bay's Cofrin Center for Biodiversity. He provided much insight into the history of the land and its very special ecosystem.

Toft point was purchased to be used as a quarry for limestone. The foreman for the Mud Bay Quarry was Thomas Kersten Toft (originally Thomas Jensen). When exploitation of the land was finished and the mining company no longer making profits they were unable to pay Toft for his work. Instead they deeded him the land in Bailey's Harbor which become known as Toft Point. He built a homestead at the site of the old quarry on Moonlight Bay and the quarry gradually began to be reclaimed by plant and wildlife.

Kersten's daughter Emma inherited the land and built guest cabins to earn income for the family. Emma Toft became an early conservationist (regarded as Wisconsin's First Lady of Conservation) and fought hard for the establishment of the Ridges Sanctuary. In the end, she donated the Toft property to The Nature Conservancy which in turn sold the property to the State of Wisconsin to be preserved as as state natural area.

Her work with pioneering conservationist Jens Jenson made history, and today much of the natural landscape surrounding Baileys Harbor is preserved due to their combined efforts and generosity. There are two famous trees along the rocky shoreline for which the story goes Emma said to Jens Jenson that 'these two trees are the two of us - rooted at the edge of a rocky precipice standing firm against the tumultuous waves'.

Today, this property remains as an outdoor classroom for UW Green Bay students and managed by the Friends of Toft Point organization. It is a pristine wilderness where flora and fauna thrive unimpeded by economic development.



Fox Snake at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Fox Snake at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County


Toft Point State Natural Area Hike


COUNTY: Door
COMMUNITIES: Bailey's Harbor

TOTAL MILES:1 mile linear (2 mile out-n-back)
DIFFICULTY: Easy




Directions and Trail Map



If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner.

Address for your GPS: 1982 Ridges Rd Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
| coordinates: 45.070978, -87.098120 |

From Milwaukee2.5 Hours
From Madison3.5 Hours
From Green Bay1  Hour
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis5  Hours
From Chicago4 Hours


Photos


Two famous trees at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Two famous trees at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County



Abandoned Lime Kiln at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Abandoned Lime Kiln at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County

Abandoned Cottages Abandoned at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Abandoned Cottages Abandoned at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County

Abandoned Barn at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County
Abandoned Barn at Toft Point State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor Door County





Emma Toft

Jens Jenson