Monday, May 27, 2013

Hike among carnivorous plants on island

Campsite on Otter Island sandspit near dock.
Otter Island sits near the middle of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. You can access it via a dock on the island’s southeast corner. From it, looking south is Oak Island, to the southeast is Manitou Island, and to the northeast is Ironwood Island.

At the dock, take the 1.9-mile (one way) Otter Island Trail, which heads north over relatively flat landscape. The trail itself is a serene escape into a pine wilderness.

You’ll be walking over land formed some 500 million years ago when an ancient, pre-dinosaur river deposited sand in a delta here. Today, the sandstone is part of the Devil's Island Formation.

Keep an eye out for butterwort, a carnivorous plant that thrives in the island’s wet, alkaline soils. Watch for yellow-green leaves in which ants or other tiny insects are stuck upon, as if caught in flypaper. Enzymes excreted from the leaves will dissolve the trapped bugs, and the nutrients released are then absorbed into the plant. You’ll also find rare plants upon reaching your destination, the island’s northern shore, which is lined by about a mile of cliffs. Adder’s-tongue, fir club-moss, and spike trisetum like the sandstone cliff’s shaded areas that water drips down.

The view of Apostle islands in the distance also is impressive at the north end. To the north is Rocky Island with South Twin Island to its east; Ironwood Island is directly east.

Primitive campsites are available for those wishing to stay overnight on Otter Island.

Read more about day hiking Northwest Wisconsin in my Headin’ to the Cabin guidebooks.