Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Variety of trails explore Wisconsin’s beautiful Madeline Island

Big Bay Lagoon in Big Bay State Park. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Three public
areas offer
hiking paths

Impressive Lake Superior vistas, beach walks, and old logging roads await day hikers on Madeline Island in northern Wisconsin.

The largest of the 22 Apostle Islands, Madeline Island offers three major parks – Big Bay State Park, the Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve (for which a north and a south unit exist), and Big Bay Town Park – each with trails. Most reach the island via a ferry ride from Bayfield, Wis., but other boat docking and even air transportation is available.

Among Madeline Island’s major trails are:
g Bay View Trail – Incredible views of Lake Superior await hikers on this Big Bay State Park trail. Adding the Boardwalk Trail on the sand spit turns this into a 5-mile round trip, though that can be cut in half if turning around at the boardwalk.
g Big Bay Town Park Trail – The trail heads east from the park entry road to a bridge that connects with a sand spit and beach along Big Bay. The beach trail can be followed south for about 0.2 miles to Big Bay State Park and then extended by connecting with the aforementioned Boardwalk Trail.
g Capser Trail – The 2-mile one-way trail runs between a parking area on Middle Road/Chebomnicon Road and County Road H/Big Bay Road in the Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve as part of the Madeline Island Ski & Hiking Trail South Section. A stem trail leads to an observation deck overlooking a wetlands.
g Lagoon Ridge Trail – The 2.6-mile round trip trail heads from Lake Superior around Big Bay Lagoon to a camping area on Big Bay State Park’s northern side. A good portion of it runs atop a ridge overlooking the lagoon and the Great Lake.
g North End Trail – Logging roads and old survey lines have been reclaimed as a trail that with its side loop runs up to 7 miles long in the Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve. Three trailheads access the collection of loops and stems that also are collectively known as the Madeline Island Ski & Hiking Trail North Section.
g Nucy Meech Trail – The Capser Trail can be extended 0.85 miles by taking this narrow path in the Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve’s southern unit. It’s being used to monitor the spread of buckthorn, barberry and other invasive species on the island.
g Point Trail and Point Trail Loop – Point Trail and a portion of the Point Trail Loop skirt the Lake Superior shoreline with a beach area for a 1.7-mile hike in Big Bay State Park. Access the trail from the parking lot for the Point Picnic Area.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.