Looking for a little adventure, I mean a real ‘out amongst the wilderness’ adventure, if only for a couple of hours? How about a bit of danger, difficulty and natural landscape to sooth the soul? That sums up a journey on Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park.
I discovered this trail, one of many in the park, years ago while kayaking with my sisters and their children. We beached our kayaks along a portion of the trail and saw the highlights. After that small trek, I’ve yearned to hike the entire trail. Friday I had that opportunity. I was literally amped with anticipation the entire day, as I waited for my companion to arrive after work.
As I mentioned, Eagle Trail resides in Peninsula State Park, being the second oldest and third largest state park in Wisconsin. If I felt extraordinarily ambitious, I could easily write about the park in several different blogs. From a sandy beach and bluffs to a light house and campgrounds, the park has most of what makes for a great family outing.
We start out from my house at approximately 5pm, beginning the hour and a half drive from Green Bay. We’re not only going hiking, we’ll see a bit of the park and have a few drinks at a local establishment afterwards.
We arrive at the park around 6:20 and decide to buy the annual State Park pass instead of the one day pass. One day is $10 and an entire year is $28. I’m sure this will not be the last state park I visit this year.
Note to the would be visitor of peninsula state park, there are signs that direct you to most of the highlights, but one would be wise to pick up a park map. We don’t, as I’m confident that I only need to follow road signs.
We stop and see the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which is closed at this time. Still, the exterior is pretty cool. We start a conversation with vacationers who, of all things, tell us they are finishing up there vacation in Green Bay. I ask, since I didn’t see any signs, if they know how to get to the Eagle Trail. They shrug and say no.
We hop back in the car and drive a bit. Finally, after driving for quite a while, we decide to head back to the entrance and grab a map. Heidi also asks for specific directions. We start off on Shore rd and turn off at Skyline rd. This way we’re able to cut across the park. We hook back up with Shore rd and park at Eagle Panorama, where the trail begins and ends. It offers some exceptional views of the bay. It’s now 7:30, we’ll barely make it before sunset.
We glance, from the bluff, out towards the bay before us. Then, we descend a crude and small stone stair case and begin the trail.
The route starts off easy enough, maybe a root here or a rock there to keep me on my toes. There’s a certain tranquility amongst the trees, as the evening sunlight fights the canopy of green to brighten the forest floor. The song of birds is in the air.
We’re descending towards the bay, as a small wall of limestone, now and again, juts from the earth creating scenery itself. For now, its peaceful. Heidi lingers behind and I can’t contain myself because I know the real treats are further ahead.
As we gain towards the shore the trail is both rockier and muddy. Now I am watching every step and being cautious as the rocks are atop one another. In other parts, wood planks serve as a bridge over extremely muddy parts of the trail. Still, there’s places that you ultimately have to step in mud.
To add to the woes, mosquitoes are in full effect, something about water and woodlands that amass populations comparable to people in New York City. I spray some mosquito repellant on me and continue further.
There’s actually a sign that urges me to stay on the trail because of ‘loose rocks above’. Naturally, I look inland and upwards. Through the trees, I see the gleaming limestone High above. I know soon we will be right at the base of a cliff.
The trail becomes quite difficult as we reach a vertical mass of rock, a member of what is known as the Niagra escarpment. The escarpment’s most famous piece lies in New York, being the cliff that the Niagra River flows over- giving us Niagra Falls. Here, it’s just a cliff, but it’s pretty awesome!
Along with the sheer height of the cliff, along the stony path, spring water trickles from the stony floor towards the bay. The waves of the bay lapping the shore and birds in the forest serve as background noise.
After we leave the cliff behind, the trail doesn’t get much easier. Mud and stone still create obstacles. At one point, the climb is that of an ascent over tree roots.
Once we are near the mouth of the trail the walk becomes considerably less arduous. We leave the trail early and check out some views along the road, enjoying the last glimpses of the sunset over the bay.
Once we’re done, we head over to Nicolet beach and change into some fresh clothes, in order to have a night on the town. Nicolet beach is nice but we really can’t see much of it in the dusk. Their changing rooms are first rate however.
We make it to Bayside tavern, enjoying a few brews and a pizza. It’s such a contrast to the trail. Here, people compete with the chatter of each other and the music to be heard.
On the drive back, we stop on a country road and immerse our selves in a night sky void of light pollution. It’s a canopy of a million lights as the Milky Way is prominent. Finally, we reluctantly head back towards Green Bay.
It was a great evening!