On to part II of the Peninsula State Park adventure.
Last week I posted about a few of the trails at Peninsula State Park in Door County. This post focused on the popular Eagle Trail, which seems to be the attention grabber of the park. Catch up on the post if you missed it.
This post will finish up the hiking by covering the last two trails we hiked. There are 9 miles across 6 different trails at the park we did not hike, mostly out of hunger. Even leaving some miles unexplored, I still think I got an adequate feel for the park’s hiking. The trails we did not hike are near some of the trail we did hike so I assume they are more wooded and flat trails.
The one that did sound unique was the Vita Course Trail. This 1 mile trail has 11 exercise stations along the way. I still can’t decide if that sounds great or terrible.Helpful Links: Peninsula State Park Map Trail Descriptions
If you read part I, you will remember we ended at the Eagle Terrace having just finished the Eagle Trail. Our plan for the rest of the hike was to meander through the center of the park towards the nature center before heading to the northwest tip of the park to visit the lighthouse.
Length: 2 mile loop
Description: Wide and gentle, this trail has 20 trail signs to describe the various types of trees and other plants encountered on the trail.
This trail begins at the site of the old Eagle Tower, which was deconstructed in 2016. The Sentinel Trail is wide and flat with educational signs along the way. It can be done as a standalone loop or used to connect to another trail.
(Wide, flat, and pleasant)
At the western end of the Sentinel Trail, hikers have three options. 1) Continue on the Sentinel Trail loop, traveling back to the trailhead. 2) Switch to the Lone Pine Trail to head north to the shore. 3) Switch to the connector trail that brings you into the western section of the park.
Since we were planning to visit the nature center, we opted for the last option. To get to the nature center, we actually had to travel on a connector trail to a different connector trail to a bike trail. This makes more sense looking on the map but it doesn’t translate well to blog writing. This park has a lot of crisscrossing trails making it easy to get around, but difficult to describe.
These ferns had a cool starburst shape.
Look how tall these were! Some of them came up to chest height on Michael (who is a typical sized gentleman.)
With all the other activities in the park, make sure you make time for a stop at the nature center. Despite it’s free admission, it still offers an abundance of hands-on educational nature programs.
Their events are always changing but often include group hikes, nature crafts, and skill workshops. Check out their upcoming events.
If you plan to spend a day or two at the park, you might also consider participating in the Like to Hike challenge. This challenge inspires park visitors to experience the park by hiking, biking, taking pictures, geocaching, and animal watching. It’s a great way to keep kids (and adults) engaged in nature during the entire visit. How it works:
After thoroughly enjoying the nature center, it was time to continue. Onward to the lighthouse!
From the nature center, we ended up walking on the park road to the lighthouse. This was okay because it wasn’t a very busy day at the park, but I wouldn’t recommend this on days during the peak season. Instead, walk along the Sunset Bike Route. It’s not the most direct route to the lighthouse but is a safer option, especially for little ones.
Walking next to the shore allowed for some pretty amazing views. There are a few spots to stop and soak it all in.
Operational from 1868 – 1926, this lighthouse sits 76 feet above the bay. Visitors can wander around the grounds for free or opt for a guided tour of the lighthouse and museum for a small fee (May through October.)
Hangry from the hike, we voted to skip the tour. (Sorry, Michael.) You can still learn a lot about the history of the lighthouse from the signs around the grounds. An even more extensive history can be found on their website for the truly inspired history buffs (You’re welcome, Michael.)
From the lighthouse, we decided it was time to head back for lunch. We decided to cut across the park rather than follow the road along the shoreline.
Length: 1/2 mile linear
Description: Flat and short with a subjectively adorable name, this trail offers access to the lighthouse from the North Nicolet Bay Campground
Cute name, easy trail. This trail cuts out having to walk along the road for lighthouse visitors coming from the campground.
From the end of the trail, we walked along the road to the South Nicolet Bay Campground.
Home sweet campsite.
Overall I’m impressed with the hiking at the park. With over 14 miles of trail, it offers a variety of scenery and difficulty to keep hikers of all abilities and interest engaged. (Remember one of those miles is an eleven station exercise trail.)
With the location and beauty of the park, It’s easy to see why Peninsula State Park is one of the most visited state parks in the Wisconsin. It would be easy to spend a week at this park and the surrounding area without ever feeling bored.