Visitor Guides Articles

Detailed guides to each island and mainland feature of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

A first look at new mainland campsites in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

A first look at new mainland campsites in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Normally, in late February, Friends board member Neil Howk would be planning cross country ski outings across the frozen lake to the old brownstone quarry at the south end of Basswood Island, to Honeymoon Rock at the north end of Basswood Island, or from Frog Bay Tribal National Park to the Oak Island sandspit. This year not only is the lake unfrozen, but there has been very little snow for cross country skiing anywhere in the Bayfield area.NPS Map of Lakeshore Trail (Click to enlarge map as well as photos below)Instead, Neil took advantage of two prematurely spring-like days to hike to the...

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

It has been a winter of extremes: the warmest December on record in many parts of the northland, historically low ice coverage on Lake Superior, and then the plummeting temperatures of mid-January. There were windless days on end with the lake barely rippled and then a storm bringing gusts up to 53 miles an hour at Devils Island churning the lake into waves of 12 to 15 feet.There is beauty in extremes, the kind of beauty that can turn a hike into a journey through a landscape of enchantment. Recently, our Executive Director Jeff Rennicke ventured into that enchanted landscape and sent back...

Meyers Beach Ramp, Little Sand Bay trail network advance through National Park Service environmental review process

Meyers Beach Ramp, Little Sand Bay trail network advance through National Park Service environmental review process

The National Park Service has issued a final environmental assessment decision endorsing plans for an accessible ramp at Meyers Beach and new trails at Little Sand Bay, which include Mashkiig (wetland) Boardwalk, Nelson Cabin Trail, and Minisi (island) Overlook Trail. The Park Service decision, which you can read here, said the project does not significantly impair cultural, historic and ethnographic resources, soils and topography, vegetation, viewsheds and visual Resources or water resources. This decision is another step toward making these projects a reality.Plans for Meyers Beach Ramp...

York Island

York Island

About the IslandBoth ends of the island have enough sandstone and soil cover over their rocky surface to support a growth of deciduous as well as coniferous trees. The sandy isthmus between the two ends of the island is low and vegetation is limited to alder shrubs with intermittent larger birches and conifers.There are no hiking trails on the island but hiking once back and forth along the beach provides an easy walk of a mile or more. More strenuous, but shorter, hikes on either end of the island are also a possibility. Excerpts from Apostle Islands Water Trips by John C. Frank. Buy a copy...

South Twin Island

South Twin Island

About the IslandSouth Twin is shaped like a lima bean. Before the island became part of the national lakeshore, it was used for a fishing resort and earlier, for commercial fishing camps. Most of the buildings have now been removed from the island. Second growth forest is now reclaiming the island in all but the dock area.There is a hiking trail about .5 miles in length leading from the dock clearing to the southwestern end of the former airstrip. The camping facilities on South Twin can provide a more civilized base camp for an exploratory trip to the islands farthest from the mainland....

Rocky Island

Rocky Island

About the IslandRocky Island’s features and location make it a popular stop for a variety of boaters. A string of individual and family fishermen based their summer operations on the protected Rocky Island eastern shore until commercial fishing lost its economic viability to the sea lamprey in the 1950s. There are still summer cottages and lands subject to life leases remaining along the eastern shore.Larger boats can find plenty of space to anchor using the sandy bottom along the eastern shoreline, protected from most winds except a “nor’easter.” Rocky offers 1.9 miles of trails. Excerpts...

Park Headquarters – Mainland

Park Headquarters – Mainland

About this LocationThe main visitor center and headquarters for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is located at 415 Washington Avenue in Bayfield. The historic building, built in 1884 features brownstone harvested from local quarries. It served as Bayfield County Courthouse until 1892 when Washburn became the county seat. The building served at various times as a school, as a community center and even a prisoner of war camp during World War II.The National Park Service started leasing the building in 1976. You can get information about the park, as well as camping permits. You can also...

Outer Island

Outer Island

About the IslandOuter Island’s name is descriptive in that it simply is the island farthest away from the mainland - its sandspit is 24 miles out from Bayfield and 22 miles from Buffalo Bay and Little Sand Bay. The island claims perhaps the largest well-developed sandspit among the islands. The main trail through the center island has become exceedingly difficult to to follow. A crossing trail leads to an old logging camp.The Outer Island Lighthouse was built in 1874, a 90 foot tall brick tower painted white and located at the northern tip of the island. Excerpts from Apostle Islands Water...

Otter Island

Otter Island

About the IslandThe clearing around the dock area provides the easiest access to the island and probably served as a fish camp in earlier days. The island was last logged for hardwoods in the late 1950s. Shortly after the last logging, in 1960, the island served as a temporary home for about fifteen hundred Boy Scouts who held a Jamboree.The sandspit and dock area offer the best and perhaps the only location for landing a kayak or larger boat, although the island map shows a possible calm weather rock shelf landing. The only designated campsite on the island is located at the sandspit on the...

Oak Island

Oak Island

About the IslandOak is the tallest island in the archipelago, rising about 480 feet above the lake level. The Ojibwe used the island prior to Europeans for gathering maple syrup and other purposes, according to historical sources. Fishing and lumber attracted the European settlers in the mid 1800s.There are over 11 miles of trails to hike on Oak Island. All of the Oak Island campsites have vault toilets, food lockers, and picnic table. Besides the designated campsites, Oak Island offers a single primitive camping zone outside of the designated campsites. Excerpt from Apostle Islands Water...