Sunday, April 5, 2015

Trail weaves between old pines, sand beach

Beach along Wisconsin Point Trail. Photo courtesy City of Superior.

Wisconsin Point
Trail stretches
3 miles one-way

Day hikers can walk part of the world’s largest freshwater sandbar on the Wisconsin Point Trail.

The hike is a flat 3-mile one-way ramble down the center of Wisconsin Point along Lake Superior. Great times to walk the point include summer for the sunrises and either May or September for spotting migratory birds.

To reach the trailhead, from U.S. Hwys. 2/53 in Superior, Wis., turn north onto Moccasin Mike Road at Bear Creek Park. Next, go left/north onto Wisconsin Point Road, which curves onto the sandbar. Park at the first lot on the peninsula. The trailhead is at the lot’s northwest corner.

Indian burial grounds
Head northwest on the trail, which parallels the park road then drifts a little away from it. A sand beach stretches for 2.75 miles along the trail’s right/northeast side.

Wisconsin Point and Minnesota Point, at 10 miles in length, combine to form the world’s largest sandbar on a freshwater lake. The smaller of the two peninsulas, Wisconsin Point itself is 203 acres in size.

Despite Wisconsin Point’s narrow width, three major ecosystems converge on it. Much of the trail heads through stands of old growth pine and beach dunes. The trail also skirts marsh open water habitats, a favorite of migratory birds.

Near the end of the route is an Indian burial ground, a former cemetery dating to the 1600s for the Fond du Lac Band of the Ojibwe people. In 1919, the remains were reburied at St. Francis Cemetery in Superior. Stone markers – and gifts ranging from walking sticks to teddy bears left by many visitors – can be found in the burial grounds.

Scenic outlook
At the trail’s end is a scenic outlook with picnic table. From here, hikers can watch ocean-going vessels enter Superior Bay from Lake Superior. Minnesota Point is across the channel.

Northeast of of the outlook is Wisconsin Point Lighthouse, sometimes referred to as the Superior Entry Lighthouse. The beacon sits on a pier sticking out from the point. You can hike to the lighthouse but not go into it; to reach it, you’ll have to cross breakwater rocks that can be slick, so the walk is not recommended during bad weather or if with children.

There’s no need to hike the entire 6-mile round trip trail. You can shorten the walk by parking at one of three other lots farther up Wisconsin Point Road.

Neither glass beverage containers nor horseback riding is allowed on Wisconsin Point. No fee or pass are required either.

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