Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Day Hiking Overview

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Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (courtesy, National Park Service)

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

  • Check out the distant Apostles—and maybe get your feet wet—on the 4.5-mile, one-way lakeshore trail from Meyers Beach to Sand Point.
  • A 3.5-mile hike from the dock to the overlook on Oak Island is rewarded with views of the southwestern-looking Hole-in-the-Wall sea arch. Extend the hike back by taking the east half of the Loop Trail past the sand spit.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bears while hiking to the old logging camp on Stockton Island. It has one of the highest densities of black bears in the nation.
  • Several short hikes in the Apostles end at a lighthouse. The two-mile lighthouse trail on Sand Island passes sculptural remains from the island’s inhabited heyday and offers views of the Swallow Point sea caves.
  • Non-paddlers can shuttle to and from the islands care of Bayfield's Apostle Islands Cruise Service. Call ahead for weather reports and up-to-date shuttle information.

Hikers can enjoy more than fifty miles of maintained trails on the islands of the National Lakeshore. These trails provide access to lighthouses, abandoned quarries, old farm sites, historic logging camps, beaches, campsites, and scenic overlooks.

The first two miles of the Lakeshore Trail from Meyers Road to the Sea Caves is now open. This trail is a rugged path for use by experienced hikers. The Lakeshore Trail will eventually run the full length of the park's mainland unit.

Basswood Island
A 5.5-mile loop trail begins and ends in a clearing up the hill from the Basswood Island dock. The trail proceeds northeast for 1 3/4 miles to the McCloud-Brigham farm site. From there the trail follows an old logging road to the east side of the island, then swings south for 2 1/4 miles to some excellent overlooks of the main quarry area. Several large blocks of cut brownstone lie in the quarry opening and rusted parts of old equipment can still be found. From the quarry, the loop trail turns north for 1 1/2 miles through the forest to the dock clearing.

Go to Basswood Island Profile.

Devils Island

South Landing Trail - 1 mile. This trail follows the track of the old tramway through old growth forest and a bog from the boat harbor at the south end of the island to the lighthouse.

West Landing Trail - 0.5 mile. This links the boat landing at a rocky ledge on the northwest corner of the island with the lighthouse.

East Landing Trail - 0.05 mile. A path from the lighthouse to a rock ledge on the northeast corner of the island.

Manitou Island

Campsite Trail - 2 miles. The trail leaves the Manitou Fish Camp and follows the west shore of the island through several hemlock groves en route to the island's only campsite.

Archeological Site Trail - 0.75 mile. The trail leads from the Manitou Fish Camp to a view point at the south tip of the island near the site of a prehistoric Native American fishing camp.

Michigan Island
A one-mile trail leads from the Michigan Island lighthouse to a campsite on the sandspit at the west end of the island.

Oak Island
Oak Island has 11.5 miles of maintained hiking trails.

Go to Oak Island Profile.

Loop Trail - 5.2 miles. This horseshoe-shaped trail begins at the dock, loops north through the center of the island, then turns south to the sandspit. Walk over the highest point in the lakeshore, along ancient beach lines, and past the old "sugar bush."

Northwest Beach Trail - 1.6 miles. This trail leaves the loop trail 1.2 miles north of the dock and leads to a secluded beach and small group campsite.

Overlook Trail - 1. 8 miles. Beginning 1.7 miles from the dock, this trail departs the loop trail near the highest point on the island. It leads to an overlook 200 feet above the lake with a view of ten islands and the "Hole-in-the-Wall." Stay back from the cliff edge.

North Bay Trail - 1.1 miles. Meander down a ravine to a campsite at the beach. This trail branches off the overlook trail 2.8 miles north of the dock.

Sandspit Trail - 1.5 miles. Hike along the shoreline to the beach at the sandspit. Campsites, an outhouse, and an artesian well are located here. To protect the sandspit's fragile plant community, walk only on established trails or the beach.

Areas may be closed to protect nesting eagles.

Otter Island Trail
A 1.9-mile trail leads from the dock to the north end of the island.

Outer Island

Sandspit Trail - 7 miles. A path from the lighthouse at the north end of the island to the spectacular beaches of the sandspit at the island's southern tip. Part of the trail follows the route of an historic logging railroad. Beaver impoundment's frequently flood portions of the trail.

Lullaby Trail - 1.7 miles. A path connecting the lighthouse with the historic Lullabye Lumber Company camp on the east side of the island.

Raspberry Island

Sandspit Trail - 0.75 mile. A well-traveled trail from the lighthouse to the sandspit on the east side of the island.

Rocky Island

Sandspit Trail - 0.5 mile. Begins at the NPS dock at the east side of the island and extends to a beach at the island's southern tip.

Rocky Island Trail - 0.9 mile. Crosses from the dock to an overlook on the west side of the island.

Sand Island

Lighthouse Trail - 2 miles. This trail connects the campground at East Bay with the Sand Island lighthouse. Trail highlights include a sand beach at Justice Bay with views of the Swallow Point sea caves, and a grove of virgin white pines, part of the old-growth forest near the lighthouse.

Noring Farm Trail - 0.3 miles. A path leads west from the East Bay campground to a farm site once used by the Noring family. Some historic farm equipment and building remains are present.

South Twin Island Trail
A 0.25-mile trail links the dock area with an abandoned airstrip.

Stockton Island
There are about 14 miles of maintained hiking trails on the island. Off-trail travel can be strenuous. Please advise a park ranger of backcountry plans.

Go to Stockton Island Profile.

Julian Bay Trail - 0.4 mile. Trail booklets at the Presque Isle trailhead introduce you to the diverse plant communities along the trail. The trail ends at Julian Bay beach. (20 minutes)

Anderson Point Trail - 1.4 miles. This trail winds through the forest along rocky shoreline between Julian Bay beach and Presque Isle dock. (50 minutes)

Tombolo Trail - 2.8 miles. Leaving the Quarry Bay trail 0.6 mile from the Presque Isle dock, this trail winds past towering pines, bogs, and along the beach, ending at the Julian Bay trail. A lagoon outlet along the beach may require hikers to make a water crossing. (2 hours)

Quarry Bay Trail - 3.6 miles. This trail goes from the Presque Isle dock, through the campground, en route to Quarry Bay. (2 hours)

Quarry Trail - 1.5 miles. Hike from Quarry Bay west along the shore to an abandoned quarry operated by the Ashland Brownstone Company from 1889 to 1897. (50 minutes)

Trout Point Trail - 4.7 miles. The trailhead is located on the Quarry Bay Trail 1.6 miles from Presque Isle. The path winds through Stockton's interior forest en route to the old logging camp clearing at Trout Point. (2 1/2 hours)


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 12 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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