Jul 25 2007

Whitefish Dunes State Park – Wisconsin

Published by at 11:52 pm under Wisconsin Hikes

During my recent visit to Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to walk a bit at Whitefish Dunes State Park and Cave Point County Park in the beautiful Door Peninsula.  For those who don’t know, Door County is the portion of Wisconsin that sticks out like a finger into Lake Michigan.  It is filled with beautiful parks, pleasant shoreline and plenty of unique and progressive resort towns.

Whitefish Dunes and Cave Point are essentially the same park.  Wisconsin is not blessed with the great dunes of Michigan’s western shore.  So, the medium-sized dunes inside of the park are maintained with great care.  Walkers are only allowed to the top of the largest dune.  The rest are off-limits.  Visitors can stay on the actual beach area or hike the beech forest inland of the dunes.  The park has more than eight miles of hiking trail.

What makes this park extremely interesting to me is the limestone point that juts out into Lake Michigan within the small county park.  This is a portion of the Niagara Escarpment.  I have blogged about this geological phenomena previously.  It is the same rock feature that makes Niagara Falls possible.  And, in fact, the peninsula would probably not exist without this limestone backbone.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/expatriate/?p=410

In this corner of Wisconsin, the limestone of the escarpment creates a beautiful rocky shore.  Generations of visitors have hunted for brachiopods in this area.

The exposed nature of the point means that waves can be particularly fierce in the park.  Swimmers are advised not to swim in certain areas because of rip tides.  These powerful waves have undercut the limestone in several areas, creating neat sea caves.  Kayakers have a particularly good view of these features.

Together, Whitefish Dunes and Cave Point total about 900 acres in size.  Visitation is day-use only.  That said, there are plenty of opportunities for additional hiking, camping and lodging on the peninsula.  Be aware that Door County is one of Wisconsin’s premier tourist areas and reservations during the peak months can sometimes be difficult to secure.

Check out the links below for maps and additional information:

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/specific/whitefish/

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/specific/whitefish/maps/

http://www.doorcounty.com/outdoor/parks.aspx

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