Weekend Backpacker: Milwaukee
Located at the tip of the Door County Peninsula, this 2,370-acre wilderness area offers 11 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline as a quiet alternative to bustling Door County, which attracts tourists in droves each summer. The park has more than 30 miles of low-stress trails in various interconnecting loops. There's camping at designated sites, an inland lake, and lots of beaches, coves, and headlands to explore. Newport State Park is the closest hikers will come to a true Northwoods wilderness experience this close to a major Wisconsin city.
Motor vehicles are restricted to roads in order to preserve the wild quality of the park. Wildlife abounds, with over 175 species of birds, deer, porcupines, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, and coyotes roaming the area.
Many of the meadows in the park were once forests. These were cleared in the late 1800s by early settlers. A display near the beach off of the Lynd Point trail explains Newport's history and includes old survey maps and photographs from the turn of the century.
Recommended trip: Connect several of Newport's shorter trails for a hiking extravaganza covering about 22.5 miles. Beginning at the main picnic area near lot 3, the 2.5-mile Lynd Point trail winds through a variety of different types of forests, including cedar and hemlock. Ancient swamps provide a gateway to the rugged shoreline segment of the trail along Lake Michigan, where hikers can explore a variety of rock shelves and formations. Going inland again, about 1.75 miles from the beginning of the trail, look for a cool, damp inland cove covered in fragile mosses and ferns. Connect the Lynd Point trail with the seven-mile Europe Bay/Hotz and the five-mile Newport loop to see more swampland and Wisconsin's only boreal forest, which is loaded with low-growing plants typically found much farther north in Canada. From there the trail meanders through serene maple and basswood forest and back to the main picnic area.Add the Rowley Bay Loop (four miles), Monarch Trail (two miles), and the Upland Loop (two miles) and you will have hiked the entire park. Take a self-guided tour along the Upland Loop, where 12 numbered posts and a 15-page booklet detail the history of the village of Newport. The Newport, Europe Bay, and Rowley Bay trails have rocky coves and low ridges that are remnants of an ancient shoreline.
Camping: The park maintains 16 wilderness campsites that require a one- to 3.5-mile hike to access. Sites are open all year and reservations are recommended (make them through the state park system). Each site has access to a pit toilet, fire ring, and metal food-storage box. Campers must register at the park office, where drinking water is also available.
Permits: A vehicle admission sticker is required. Stickers cost $18 annually and $5 daily for Wisconsin residents; $25 annually and $7 per day for nonresidents.
A camping fee of $8 per night on weeknights and $10 on weekends for Wisconsin residents is also required. Nonresidents pay $10 per night Monday through Thursday and $12 per night Friday through Sunday.
Getting there : From Milwaukee head north to Door County on Highway 42. Three miles northeast of Ellison Bay, take County Highway NP to the park.
Maps are available at the park office.
Thanks to park manager Michelle Hefty for her help with this article.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication