Friday, August 30, 2013

Day hike Basswood Island in Apostle Island National Lakeshore

Basswood Island quarry walls. Photo courtesy of Wis. DNR.
The pretty Apostle Island National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin includes 20 of the 21 Apostle Islands and a stretch of shore on the Bayfield Peninsula. Other than the peninsula stretch, you won’t be able to reach any of the islands in the national lakeshore by vehicle – but you can sail there yourself or take any one of a number of charters from the nearby towns of Bayfield and Ashland.

Isolation from vehicular traffic makes each island a quiet and secluded paradise of Northwoods wilderness. Almost all of the islands contain hiking trails to enjoy.

The closest Apostle Island that’s part of the national lakeshore is Basswood Island. The island sits between Bayfield Peninsula to the west and Madeline Island to the south and east.

A lone trail runs on the island’s southern end. A 5.4-mile loop, the trailhead is on a clearing up the hill from the island’s dock along its western shore.

Going clockwise on the trail into the island’s heart, after 1.75 miles you’ll reach the McCloud-Brigham farm site. The trail then joins with an old logging road along the island’s eastern shore, with Madeline Island on the horizon.

In a little more than 2.25 miles, the trail comes to the island’s southern end, which affords overlooks of the abandoned Brownstone Quarry. The quarry pit sports massive blocks of cut brownstone and rusted equipment parts used in the mining operation, in a scene that looks like it was transported here from the Rocky Mountains.

Swinging north, the forested trail heads north for 1.5 miles, passing a campground along the way. It then ends at the dock clearing.

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