Door County has a few trademark features. One appealing draw happens to be its 300 plus miles of rugged shoreline, making this peninsula the county with the most coastline-at least in the United States. So, Seeing that Newport State Park sports 11 miles of that Lake Michigan shoreline, plus 2,370 acres of wooded wilderness, its thirty miles of hiking trails could definitely lure an adventurous Door County visitor.
Besides those highlights, Newport State Park is also designated as an International Dark Sky Park. What does that mean? A few things, as there are strict criteria to earn that distinction. But, from what I gather, the most significant trait of an IDSP is its clear, starry nighttime skies. That makes sense, because Newport State Park is set away from light pollution, situated on the peninsula’s northeastern tip-beyond the county’s tourist laden towns. If you’re wondering how many IDSP’s exist, I counted just over one hundred. And they hail from many parts of the globe.
One other cool feature of this preserve, if you’re feeling super venturesome, is its hike-in and bike-in camping. There aren’t a lot of sites, but if you want to rough it in the wilderness, I can’t think of a better spot. We didn’t see a ton of wildlife, but did hear critters rustling the leafy forest floor as we passed.
As for the trails, the loop we ventured was excellent-and I absolutely mean that. We trekked along a wooded path, right along the rocky shoreline, known as the Lynd Point Trail. When we strolled inland, the trail ran into Fern Trail, which we used to return to our car.
Our hike began at a sandy beach, the sand stretching inland was adorned with tall grasses.
Yet, as we ventured out on an uneven trail, our footing slightly encumbered by rocks and tree roots, the waves were slapping against dolomitic limestone.
I guess stating that it was a refreshing endeavor would put it best. The trail’s terrain was not overly difficult, although, if you felt daring, you could veer from the path and attempt slightly more dangerous feats.
My favorite aspect of the hike was that it sported a variety of features. At times, I was strolling a passage amongst giant moss covered rocks.
Other times, I was sauntering under a canopy of cedars. The green foliage, beginning to peek from the leaf matted forest floor, surrounded me.
Yet, other times, we would discover a path that led to a flat rock shelf, Jutting into the lake.
Or, just as cool, there were sandy coves where the clear water stood motionless.
My only gripe, if I were forced to find a negative element, would have been the trail’s markings. Although the signing was sufficive, and we were able to navigate without getting lost, a couple more markers, to ensure we were on the right path, would have been comforting.
Our hike was around 2.5 miles, and, when it was finished, our lust for adventure was satiated. Not to mention, we were subjected to many lakeshore and woodland landscapes resulting from glaciation. Of course, as I’ve mentioned, there are thirty miles of trails. So, the paths vary in distance and difficulty. You can find info online or refer to a park map.
And, upon leaving the wilderness, after a short drive, we lounged in Sister Bay for a bit, indulging in a bowl of ice cream and a cookie at Analog Ice Cream and Coffee. After that, we sipped beer on a patio, listening to a woman who harmonized over her acoustic guitar at Husby’s.
This is what I’m getting at; one can venture into a bona fide wilderness at Newport State Park, yet have a cultivated reprieve in a quaint town only a fraction of an hour’s drive away. And when you’re on vacation, isn’t it cool to have bit of both worlds?
I guess it’s best summed up this way. If you’re looking for a rustic outdoor excursion, set in a place that promotes off-road biking and hiking, Newport State Park maybe the spot you’re looking for. I haven’t even mentioned the inland lake in the park, known as Europe Lake, which I’m sure would bolster a chorus of creatures-serenading a starry night sky. With rustic camping available in the park, this little preserve, residing at the tip of the Door Peninsula, could provide an unforgettable experience.