Friday, August 8, 2014

Discover history of fishing on Manitou Island via day hikes

Manitou Island campsite. Photo courtesy of Apostle Islands NPS.
A historic fish camp, hemlock groves, and an ancient fishing site await day hikers on Manitou Island in northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The island’s two trails both begin at the dock for the Manitou Fish Camp; a boat is the only way to reach the island. Manitou Fish Camp can be found on the island’s southwestern corner, where a strait runs between Oak and Manitou islands.

The fish camp consists of five wooden cabins restored to how they looked when Great Lakes fishermen used them during the 1930s-1950s. Their living quarters and much of their equipment remains there for public view. A park service volunteer often is available during summer to give tours.

From the fish camp, the Campsite Trail runs 2 miles and follows the west shore through several hemlock groves en route to the island’s only campsite. The evergreen is at the extreme northwestern limit of its range here.

Across the stait northwest of the trail is Otter Island. Excellent views of the strait and island are available at the campsite.

The Archeological Site Trail rambles for 0.75 mile to a viewpoint at the south tip of the island. It is near the site of a prehistoric Native American fishing camp. Oak Island is to the trail’s southwest, and at the viewpoint Stockton Island is to the southeast.

Just as who fished on the island and their rtechnology changed, so the name given to Manitou Island as evolved over the centuries. In the 1820s, maps referred to it as New Jersey Island and then in the 1870s as Tait Island.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.