“Door County’s most valuable asset, both from a material and spiritual standpoint, is its natural beauty” (From Door County Parks Board 1947 Report). Whether that natural beauty is sandy beaches, craggy shorelines, shady forests, or just the beautiful blue-green waters of Lake Michigan or Green Bay, Door County parks and preserves provide an opportunity to be enriched by that asset, natural beauty. This post will help you do that by serving as the most complete list of 136 Door County parks and preserves, including Door County’s secret, sixth state park nobody talks about. We’ll save that one for last, so read to the end.
What are your favorite parks or preserves in Door County? Is there more information you need? Talk to us in the comments section at the end of the post.
Types of Parks and Preserves
With five state parks (or is it actually six?), Door County is known as the crown jewel in the Wisconsin State Park system. Check out our post, Ultimate Guide to Door County State Parks, for more information about these. However, did you know that a total of nine organizations own or manage parks and preserves in Door County? These include the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Door County Parks Department, town boards, the Door County Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Ridges Sanctuary, and Crossroads at Big Creek.
What to Know Before Visiting a Door County Park or Preserve
Every Organization and Every Property Has Its Own Rules and Regulations
Every organization and every property that owns or manages a door County Park or Preserve has its own rules and regulations. Some properties have admission fees, others are completely free. Some are open 24 hours a day. Others have limited hours. Some permit hunting, fishing, and trapping. Others prohibit these activities. Some allow dogs. Others do not. Research the rules and regulations of each park or preserve before your visit, so that you are not caught off guard. And, obey all posted rules and regulations.
Practice Good Natural Stewardship
If Door County’s greatest asset is its natural beauty, unnecessarily damaging that beauty deprives all of us. Follow these guidelines to minimize your impact:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Keep to trails when hiking
- Camp in established campsites
- Dispose of waste appropriately
- Leave what you find
- Build campfires only where permitted and in established campfire sites
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate
Be Ready For the Climate
Part of planning ahead and preparing for an outdoor experience involves being ready for the climate. Given its location on a peninsula between two major bodies of water, Door County is subject to extreme and wildly variable weather conditions. Winds tend to be quite strong here, so securely staking out tents is crucial when camping. Storms can rise unexpectedly. Warm clothes are a must year-round. Temperatures can drop quite low overnight even in the middle of summer. At the same time, temperatures can rise into the 90s or even the 100s during the day in the summer.
Know Your Limitations
It may be tempting to scale a rock face at a Door County park or preserve. Or, you may find yourself wanting to boat in Green Bay or Lake Michigan using a park or preserve as a launching point. However, know your limitations. Such activities should only be done by those with the proper equipment and robust experience. The waters around Door County can especially be treacherous.
Be Aware of Hunting Season
Hunting is an important and popular tradition in Wisconsin. Even if hunting is unfamiliar or distasteful to you, remember that it is very important to many people in the region. For many, hunting is an important source of food for their families. And, it is a way that families and friend groups reconnect with each other and with the land.
Many public properties, including land owned or managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (this includes State Parks), county parks, and the Door County Land Trust, permit hunting. Even when not on these properties, it is usually best to wear bright clothing during Wisconsin’s nine-day general gun deer hunting season which extends from the Saturday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin State Parks
Door County is renowned for being the crown jewel of the Wisconsin State Park system, both for having the highest concentration of State Parks in any county and also because it has some of the most popular parks. This post will give summaries of these parks. Check out our comprehensive post on Door County State parks for a more thorough look at them.
Most websites will tell you that Door County has five state parks, but the truth is that it actually has six state parks. Read to the end of this post to learn about Door County’s secret state park that nobody wants you to know about.
Peninsula State Park
Wisconsin’s most complete and popular state park, Peninsula State Park offers an observation tower, camping, hiking, boating, an outdoor theatre, a golf course, and a historic lighthouse.
Potawatomi State Park
This state park’s biggest draw is the access it gives to Sturgeon Bay from its boat launch in Sawyer Harbor. It is also the eastern terminus of Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail.
Newport State Park
Newport State Park is Hello Door County’s favorite of the Wisconsin State Parks in Door county. Newport offers more of a wilderness experience than the other state parks. Gorgeous hikes, stunning shorelines, and pack-in camping round out the experience at Newport State Park.
Rock Island State Park
Rock Island State Park is one of the most unique parks not only in Wisconsin but also in the Lower-48 of the United States of America. Rock Island State Park is an island only accessible by taking two ferries. No vehicles are allowed on the island. And, it has a gorgeous boathouse, an architectural wonder nearly a century old, built by an eccentric industrial magnate. Make sure you go into the boathouse to view and check out the mantelpiece with Norse runes.
Mantelpiece with Norse runes in the boathouse at Rock Island State Park. Via Hello Door County.
Finally, Rock Island boasts one of Door County’s most inaccessible but most striking lighthouses. The Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island is Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse in a dramatic setting on a bluff high above Lake Michigan.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
Whitefish Dunes State Park protects a unique and fragile topography and ecosystem in Door County. This is a favorite place to swim on hot days, and dog-lovers will enjoy this park as it has a designated pet swimming area. The beach is not what it used to be in recent years given historically high water levels, but as of 2022, the beach has been coming back. At the northern end of the beach, listen to the sound that your feet make in the sand. The beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park has “squeaky” or “singing” sand, a rare phenomenon found on only a few beaches in the world.
Whitefish Dune State Park is a day-use-only park. No camping is available.
State Wildlife Areas
State Wildlife Areas are dedicated to providing good habitats for animals. activities like hiking, hunting, fishing, and foraging are permitted.
Mud Lake State Wildlife Area
2,290 acres of public land in northern Door County near Moonlight Bay.
Gardner Swamp State Wildlife Area
Protecting an ecologically significant marsh area, the Gardner Swam State Wildlife area encompasses almost 1,200 acres. This is a good spot for birdwatching, hunting, and trapping. No developed trails are on this property.
State Natural Areas
A state natural area is an area of ecological significance designated by the state of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Some of these areas can be owned by the DNR, but some of them may be owned by other entities like towns or even private organizations. The ones owned by other entities are listed elsewhere. The ones owned by the DNR are listed below.
In general, few amenities exist in state natural areas, but they are open for activities such as hiking, foraging, and hunting. Camping is prohibited on state natural areas owned by the DNR.
Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetland State Natural Area
Protecting 1.5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan coastline and enjoying the unique climate afforded by this area, Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands State Natural area has unique flora not normally seen at this latitude.
Big and Little Marsh State Natural Area
On Washington Island, this State Natural Area includes 200 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Coffey Swamp State Natural Area
On the north side of Washington Island, this state natural area protects an ecologically significant seepage swamp.
Toft Point State Natural Area
The Toft Point Natural Area is designated a state natural area by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, but it is owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is a dramatic peninsula on Lake Michigan separating Moonlight Bay to the north from Baileys Harbor bay to the south.
Address: 7950 Ridges Rd, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
Sister Islands State Natural Area
The Sister Islands State Natural Area protects two low gravel islands off the shore of Sister Bay. These are important nesting areas for gulls and terns.
The Federal Government allows public access to several properties under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While there have been some discussions about locating a National Park in the Door County region, this prospect seems far into the future.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Properties
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the breakwater at the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and permits the public to walk on them. Check out our post on Free Things to Do in Door County for more information on how to access the breakwater.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also owns land along the east side of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and allows public access here. A hiking trail runs along the land. Be advised, however, that the trail is rough, and few amenities exist.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers several properties in Door County.
Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which consists of Plum Island, Pilot Island, Hog Island, St. Martin Island, Rocky Island, and portions of Detroit Island. Only Plum Island and Detroit Island have public access.
Plum Island is a part of the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which permits visits during daylight hours in the summer months. Check their website for the most up-to-date information. Except for a boat dock, facilities on the island are non-existent, and passage to the island is difficult, so only well-prepared and outfitted visitors should attempt this.
Visitors can get to the island by private boat or kayak. However, only experienced and well-outfitted boaters should attempt this. The Friends of Plum and Pilot Island are offering private charters to the island for those unable to make the passage privately.
Just off the larger Washington Island, Detroit Island has a large portion of land in the southeast portion of the island that is administered by the National Wildlife Service as part of the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors must arrange their transportation by boat or kayak. However, only experienced and well-outfitted boaters should attempt this. Check the US Fish and Wildlife website for the most up-to-date information.
Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge
The Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge is an extremely important breeding ground for birds. The grounds are off-limits to the public.
Door County Parks, Trails, and Access Points
Ahnapee State Trail
A 48-mile trail connecting Sturgeon Bay, Maplewood, Forestville, Algoma, Kewaunee, Luxemburg, and Casco. This trail is on an old railroad bed and is therefore quite level, and has an even, easily traveled surface. ATV and UTVS are prohibited, but foot travel, horses, and bicycles are permitted. Snowmobiles are permitted on this trail in the winter, and dog sleds even occasionally make use of it. Many access points are available. Click here for a map.
Baileys Harbor Ridges County Park
30 acres with 550 feet of shoreline, Baileys Harbor Ridges County Park is an excellent place for birdwatchers and for those who want to see unique flora. A sandy beach is a favorite place for kiteboarders. Restrooms, picnic tables, and parking are available.
This is a county park, not to be confused with the nearby Ridges Sanctuary.
Address: 2301 Ridges Rd, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
Cana Island Lighthouse County Park
A nine-acre island home to the legendary Cana Island Lighthouse. This is a must-do part of a Door County vacation. Tours are available to the lighthouse, but fees apply. For the most up-to-date information on the Cana Island Lighthouse, including fees, see the website for the Door County Maritime Museum.
Cave Point County Park
Cave Point County Park is one of the most popular places in all Door County. And, no wonder. Its stunning views, amazing geology, and endless opportunities for photography make this small park an incredible place to visit. Kayakers and scuba divers enjoy exploring the caves in the cliffs, and just about anyone will enjoy hiking the trails and exploring the rock beach.
To learn more about this incredible park, make sure to check out our comprehensive post on Cave Point County Park.
Address: 5360 Schauer Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
This five ace park is one of the most popular access points to the Bay of Green Bay and is near productive fishing waters. Amenities include a three-lane boat launch, a picnic area with grills, parking, and restrooms.
Address: 10865 Cth N, Brussels, WI 54204
Door Bluff Headlands
This 252-acre park, with 600 feet of shoreline, is Door County’s largest county park. However, it is also the least developed. No facilities exist here except for an access road and undeveloped hiking trails. Because of the lack of development, naturalists will love to explore this park.
Address: 12900 Door Bluff Park Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Ellison Bluff County Park
This 174-acre park with 7,000 feet of shoreline, sits 100 feet above Lake Michigan. Outstanding views are available from the hiking trails. Amenities include a picnic area and restrooms.
Forestville Dam County Park
This 79-acre park provides access to the Forestville Millpond, a shallow flowage with gentle waters great for fishermen and boaters of all experience levels. This is a great place to access the Ahnapee State Trail. Amenities include a boat launch, fishing dock, pavilion, picnic area with grills, playground, and restrooms.
Address: 475 Mill Road, Forestville, WI 54213
Frank E. Murphy
The Frank E. Murphy Park on Green Bay in Egg Harbor has a three-hundred-foot sand swim beach. In addition to the beach, the park also has a dock and boat launch. Facilities include a playground, volleyball court, picnic area, pavilion, parking, and restrooms.
Address: 7119 Bay Shore Dr, Egg Harbor, WI 54209
George K. Pinney County Park
This 15-acre park with 1,000 feet of water frontage is a favorite place for fishermen to access the bay of Green Bay. Amenities include a six-lane boat launch, a harbor of refuge, an accessible fishing pier, a pavilion, a picnic area, and restrooms.
Address: 4879 Bay Shore Dr, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
John Miles County Park
John Miles County Park is the home of the Door County Fair. A horse arena, midway area, raceway, and fair buildings are part of the fairgrounds. Other amenities include restrooms, a playground, and soccer fields.
Address: 916 N 14th Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Lily Bay County Park
This is the site of a two-lane fair weather boat launch on Lake Michigan. There is parking for six vehicles.
This 40-acre parcel in the Jacksonport area is completely dedicated to protecting the unique ecology within it. There is no public road access, though pedestrians can access the sanctuary through Meridian County Park. Be advised that no developed trails are leading to or through the sanctuary.
Meridian County Park
At 155 acres, Meridian County Park is the third largest park in the Door County Park System. Despite being so large, it is largely undeveloped except for a highway wayside on State Route 57 that marks the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole. This wayside has a picnic area and restroom facilities. An unmarked trail leads from the wayside to the interior of the park.
Address: 6786 WI-57, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
Percy Johnson Memorial
This 5-acre park on Washington Island has a 500-foot sand beach, restrooms, and a picnic area with grills. A great place to watch sunrises, it also affords views of Hog Island.
Check out our comprehensive post on this great location.
Address: 868 Hemlock Dr, Washington, WI 54246
This county park has historical significance as a landing place for the French explorer Robert de LaSalle’s 1679 expedition. It has picnic tables, grills, and playground equipment, and features 440 feet of public access to Lake Michigan.
Address: 408 Cth U, Algoma, WI 54201
Robert M. Carmody
The primary draw of this park is the access it affords to the highly productive fishing waters of Little Sturgeon Bay in the Southern Door area of Door County. It has a six-lane boat launch, fishing pier, picnic area, and restroom facilities.
Address: 3570 Co Rd CC, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
This 40-acre park along the shore of Green Bay has a fair weather boat launch, an 18-hole disc golf course, restrooms, a picnic area, and a grill.
Address: 2393 White Star Rd, Brussels, WI 54204
The first park in the Door County Park system, this highway wayside provides refuge to motorists at a site where people sought refuge from the firestorm of the Peshtigo fire. Amenities include a historical marker, a picnic area, and restrooms.
Address: Cty Hwy DK and, S Stevenson Pier Rd, Brussels, WI 54204
Municipal Door County Parks
City of Sturgeon Bay
The City of Sturgeon Bay, Door County’s only city, offers a wide range of park and recreation facilities.
Memorial Field Complex
20 acres home to baseball and soccer fields.
West Side Field
A small baseball field on the west side of Sturgeon Bay.
An 8.8 park devoted to boating and fishing, Sawyer Park has a six-lane boat launch, dock, restrooms, fish cleaning stations, picnic tables, a pavilion, and parking space for 170 vehicles.
41 acres encompass a picnic shelter, swimming beach, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball court, two-lane boat launch, trails, playgrounds, and a frisbee golf course. A very complete park.
A small waterfront promenade on the east side of downtown Sturgeon Bay, this is a good place to watch ships and boats go by.
Bay View Park
Home to . . . a wooly mammoth? Bay View Park is a good place to check out the yachts the park in Sturgeon Bay and also to view the shipyards across the bay. A walkway extends out into the bay, and this is a good place to fish.
A nature preserve with a walking path to observe ecologically important wetland areas.
A shady park that offers picnic facilities and a wheelchair fitness course.
Lawrence Big Hill Park
A ten-acre park with a small picnic area. This is also a favorite place to sled in Sturgeon Bay.
This is the home of the Harmony by the Bay concert series and also the free movie nights put on by the city.
A 3-acre park on Sturgeon Bay’s west side with lots of amenities including a picnic shelter, restrooms, playground, basketball courts, grills, tennis courts, and a sand beach.
Sturgeon Bay Skatepark
A 10,000-square-foot skatepark open to skateboards, scooters, and BMX bikes. Open daily from dawn to dusk.
Cherry Blossom Park
A 5.5-acre park on Sturgeon Bay’s west side, Cherry Blossom Park offers a picnic shelter, trails, a volleyball court, an athletic field, a playground, grills, and a picnic area.
Woodside Wildflower Preserve
A two-acre wooded area with a short trail.
Woods West Park
This is a neighborhood park with a baseball backstop and playground equipment.
Little Creek Parkway
This is an undeveloped parcel. Plans are in the works to add a walking path.
Shiloh Road Dog Park
A hilly spot for fido to stretch out and socialize with other dogs. One nice feature of this dog park is that it is split into two fenced sections, allowing for peace between dogs that may not get along. There are many rules for the Shiloh Road Dog Park, so be sure to check the website to review them before coming.
A good spot for fishing, Bullhead Point also affords views of shipwrecks when water levels are lower.
Village of Egg Harbor
Beach View Park
Location of the Egg Harbor Beach, this park has a sandy beach, pavilion, playground, and restrooms. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available.
Harbor Hounds Dog Park
This is Egg Harbor’s dog park. Clean, but on the small side.
Eames Cherry View Park
Home of the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center, this park hosts Egg Harbor’s Sunset Concert Series.
Harbor View Park
This park is at the center of it all. Overlooking the Egg Harbor Marina, this park hosts many of Egg Harbor’s community events.
Bird View Park
A quarter-mile walking and biking trail through this park leads to the Bay View Terrace and Beach View Park. This park also features a birding deck for lovers of winged creatures.
Bay View Terrace
Just north of Beach View Park, this terraced park features public art installations and good views.
Village View Park
Public parking and boat trailer parking are available in this park with a quick walk to downtown Egg Harbor. The Egg Harbor website reports that this park will soon have a disc golf course. By the time you read this, this may have been installed.
Village of Forestville
Legion Memorial Park
In the southern part of Door County, the Village of Forestville maintains a small park with a playground, basketball court, tennis court, and baseball field. The baseball field is a popular gathering spot in the summer months for baseball and softball leagues.
Village of Sister Bay
Waterfront Park is the heart of Sister Bay. A sand swimming beach, gazebo, restrooms, playground, picnic table, and kayak launch are features of this park.
Aptly named, this park overlooks Sister Bay’s marina.
The Village Sports Complex
This park has soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, and tennis courts, and in the winter it is the site of the Sister Bay Ice rink.
Town of Baileys Harbor
This town park on the shore of Lake Michigan offers a sand swimming beach, playground, picnic area, grills, playground, and restrooms.
This park in the center of Baileys Harbor has a pavilion, picnic tables, and a robust variety of playground equipment including slides, swings, a teeter-totter, merry-go-round, and something the Baileys Harbor website describes as “oh so popular springy thingies.”
Mid-Town Lake View / Bluff End Town Park
A tiny pocket park and one of Door County’s best-kept secrets, this is a great place to encounter the majesty of Lake Michigan. This park seems to go by two names.
This is a great place to view Lake Michigan. Hence the name. Lake View Town Park. Couldn’t get more straightforward.
A no-frills open space that was once the playground for Baileys Harbor Elementary School.
Baileys Harbor Recreational Park
This park has soccer fields, a football field, a baseball field, a playground, and restrooms.
Town of Brussels
Brussels Town Park
A baseball field, pavilion, bathrooms, and playground at the center of Door County’s Belgian Community.
Address: 1332 Junction Rd, Brussels, WI 54204
Town of Forestville
Forestville Town Park
Behind the Forestville Town Hall are a baseball field, pavilion, and playground equipment.
Address: 7705 Co Rd H, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Town of Gardner
In Southern Door County, Haines Beach is extremely popular with the locals. It is a perfect beach for children since it is quite shallow and the waters quite calm. Since it is in a shallow, protected bay off of Green Bay, the water here warms up faster than most beaches in the area. On nice weekends, boats will line up outside of the swim area. Bring some lite beer, rag on the Bears, and you’ll fit right in with the crowd here. Not many amenities here, though: only picnic tables and portapotties.
Check out our comprehensive post on Haines Town Park Beach to learn more.
Address: 3773 Town Park Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Gibraltar (Fish Creek) Town Parks
Noble Square Park
Adjacent to the Alexander Noble House Museum, Noble Square Park is a garden-like setting. It is also the location for summer concerts.
Address: 4167 Main St, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Chambers Island Lighthouse
The Chambers Island Lighthouse is a park run by the Town of Gibraltar. The grounds are open to the public. Check out our post on Door County Lighthouses to learn more about this lighthouse and how to visit.
Address: Chambers Island
A small pocket park on the shore of Lake Michigan. A good place to catch a sunset. Sadly, the rock for which this park was named has sunk into Green Bay.
Address: Cottage Row, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Clark Park is a big green space overlooking Green Bay. It is popular for events.
Address: 4174, 4150 Maple St, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Fish Creek Park
A wooded preserve that is home to the Town’s namesake Fish Creek and features, this park has recreational walking trails.
Address: 9375 Park Pl, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Fish Creek Public Beach
This sand beach in the heart of one of Door County’s most popular tourist destinations has a swimming area, viewing dock, bathhouse with bathrooms and changing rooms, water bottle fill-up station, and a foot-washing station.
A small pocket park with a view of the waterfront.
Address: Fish Creek, WI 54212
Sunset Park is legendary for what its name implies. This is a lookout over Green Bay.
Address: Fish Creek, WI 54212
This is a small pocket park along Green Bay in Fish Creek.
Address: Ula Street, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Town of Jacksonport
Lakeside Park in Jacksonport has 158 feet of sandy beach. Facilities include two covered picnic shelters, restrooms, charcoal grills, and a boat ramp. This is the location of Jacksonport’s annual polar plunge.
Address: Downtown Jacksonport, WI
Erskine Rest Area
Across from Lakeside Park in Jacksonport, the Erskine Rest Area features an old-fashioned root cellar to explore.
Address: WI-57, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
A small park with a boat launch on Lake Michigan in the Town of Jacksonport.
Address: Schauer Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Town of Liberty Grove
North Bay Boat Launch
This boat launch is best for small, non-motorized craft.
Address: 9883 N Bay Rd, Sister Bay, WI 54234
Sand Bay Town Park
On the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, the waters here are especially inviting for a swim on the hottest days of the year. This has a sand beach, swings, a picnic area with grills, restrooms, and a non-motorized boat launch for those who would like to ply Lake Michigan’s waters by kayak.
You can read more about this park and beach by clicking here.
Address: 11154 N Sand Bay Lane, Sister Bay, WI 54234
Grand View Park
On top of the Niagara Escarpment, this park truly does have a grand view. Walking trails are available.
Address: 11833 Highway 42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Ellison Bay Community Park
A full-service park with a sandy beach, picnic area, grills, gazebo, playground, and restrooms. A non-motorized boat launch is also available.
Address: 11953 Highway 42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
This grassy park is also the location of the Ellison Bay Marina. A public boat launch is available here.
Address: 12033 Cedar Shore Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
This park has a playground, pavilion, baseball field, and in the winter an ice rink.
Address: 1954 Old School Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Hotz Memorial Park
Along the shallow and sandy Europe Bay of Lake Michigan, Hotz Memorial Town Park has a small sand beach as well as grills, a nonmotorized boat launch, picnic tables, and restrooms. you won’t find many crowds here, but you will find a lovely place to spend a morning or afternoon. This park also allows free access to hiking in Newport State Park.
Address: 349 Europe Bay Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Europe Lake Boat Launch
A shallow launch for small boats on Europe Lake.
Address: 460 Europe Lake Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Isle View Park
On the shore of Lake Michigan, this small park is well-liked as a quiet place away from the crowds. Views of Plum and Pilot Islands are available here on clear days.
Address: Isle View Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Garret Bay Park
This park features a non-motorized boat launch. A shipwreck (Fleetwing) is just offshore.
Address: 1310 Garret Bay Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Mariners Park at Gills Rock
A grassy park overlooking the water.
Address: 12695 WI-42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Gills Rock Park
Picnic area, pavilion, and playground here.
Address: 12724 Wisconsin Bay Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Wisconsin Bay Park
A good view of Death’s Door with a picnic area and grill.
Address: 740 Wisconsin Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Port des Morts Park
A great view of Death’s door with a fun staircase down to the shore. The website for the Town of Liberty Grove says that you can “enjoy a break from reality” at this park. We’re not exactly sure what this means or if it is desirable. But, the adventurous will find out by visiting.
Address: 12832 Kenosha Drive, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Town of Sevastapol
The Town of Sevastapol encompasses the Door Peninsula north of Sturgeon Bay up to just south of Carlsville. This municipality oversees several parks.
Sevastapol Town Park
This town park has baseball fields, a picnic pavilion, a playground, a tennis court, and a basketball court.
Clark Lake Beach
A small sand beach on an inland lake in Door County. While this park has few amenities (portapotties are about it), many enjoy the warm, calm waters in comparison to the water of Lake Michigan or Green Bay.
Address: 5241 S Lake Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Whitefish Bay Park
A small town park on Whitefish Bay with a breakwater. Small watercraft can be launched from here.
Town Line Boat Launch Clark Lake
No facilities other than a concrete ramp to launch boats into Clark Lake.
Address: 3698 E Town Line Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Town of Sturgeon Bay
The Town of Sturgeon Bay, not to be confused with the City of Sturgeon Bay, is a rural municipality east of the city. It operates one public park
The site where boaters would portage from Lake Michigan to the bay of Sturgeon Bay before the digging of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, this park has over 40 acres including woods and a sand swimming beach.
Washington Town is the municipality covering all of Washington Island, and it operates several parks. The municipality is now charging for access to the parks they operate. Check their website for fees and how to obtain a park pass. Note, however, that this fee only applies to parks operated by the township. It does not apply to properties operated by other organizations or governmental entities on Washington Island.
On a bluff overlooking Green Bay, People’s Park has a great view. Amenities include picnic tables and a grill.
Address: 2123 Little Lake Rd, Washington, WI 54246
Schoolhouse Beach Park
A geological wonder, Schoolhouse Beach is one of only five beaches in the world comprised entirely of limestone pebbles. The stones are worn smooth, but you will probably want some sort of footwear to explore and swim. Public restrooms are available here as is a picnic area with grills.
Address: 1824 Washington Harbor Rd, Washington, WI 54246
Jackson Harbor Dunes Park / Jackson Harbor Ridges State Natural Area
This Town of Washington Park has been named a State Natural Area due to its ecologically significant geology and the plant and animal life it supports.
Address: 1902 Jackson Harbor Rd, Washington, WI 54246
Red Barn Park & Gislason Public Beach
This area has a playground and a public beach. However, this beach is more for beach-combing or paddlesports, as it is often murky.
Address: 1404-1498 County Rd W, Washington, WI 54246
Sand Dunes Park
On the southwest side of Washington Island, this sand beach has a large dune begging to be climbed.
Check out our comprehensive post on Sand Dunes Park Beach.
Washington Island Ballpark
A baseball field that is converted into an ice rink in the winter.
Address: 910 Main Rd, Washington, WI 54246
Connecting the Detroit Harbor Trail and Nature Preserve, the Heritage trail is a good place to observe wildflowers and woodland birds.
The main feature of Mountain Park is an observation tower. As of this article’s writing (August 2022), the tower is closed due to structural concerns. Check the Washington Island Parks website for updates.
Address: 1641 Mountain Rd, Washington, WI 54246
Several private organizations run parks and preserves in Door County.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a national organization with a mission “to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.” Their Wisconsin chapter operates four preserves in Door County and owns still others. In general, admission is free. Hunting is often permitted, so wear bright-colored clothing during hunting season. Dogs are not permitted.
Mink River Preserve / Mink River Estuary State Natural Area
Protecting over 2,000 acres of one of North America’s few remaining high-quality freshwater estuaries, the Mink River Preserve helps provide habitat for breeding fish and many other forms of wildlife. This area has also been designated a State Natural Area.
North Bay – Mud Lake Preserve / North Bay State Natural Area
Protecting 1,300 acres of wetlands and forest along Lake Michigan, this preserve has been designated a State Natural Area.
Kangaroo Lake Preserve / State Natural Area
The Nature Conservancy owns several discontinuous parcels in the Kangaroo Lake area. Together with some of the land owned by the Door County Land Trust, these form the Kangaroo Lake State Natural Area.
Hiking in the Kangaroo Lake Preserve is best done at the Judy Albert Meissner Memorial Wetlands Preserve.
Shivering Sands Preserve / Cave Point – Clay Banks State Natural Area
The Shivering Sands Preserve protects land in the Cave Point County Park / Whitefish Dunes State Park area and is part of the Cave Point – Clay Banks State Natural area.
Door County Land Trust Properties
The Door County Land Trust is a private organization that aims to “preserve, maintain and enhance lands that contribute significantly to the scenic beauty, open space, and ecological integrity of Door County.”
Many of the parcels that they oversee allow public access. However, they ask that you follow these guidelines:
- Stay on the trails.
- Clean your boots and shoes. (Boot brush stations are available to help reduce the spread of invasive species.)
- Pets are welcome.
- Collecting is not allowed.
- Leave no trace.
- No horseback riding or mechanized recreational equipment (bicycles, ATVs, etc.)
- No camping
- No fires
- Wear bright clothing during hunting season. Hunting is allowed on some properties.
Heins Creek Nature Preserve
This 74-acre plot protects Heins Creek, which connects Kangaroo Lake with Lake Michigan. It has a .75-mile trail.
Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve / State Natural Area
Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve protects 273 acres that include rock outcrops of the Niagara Escarpment and boasts magnificent views from its 2.5 miles of hiking trails. It is located between Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay. While owned by the Door County Land Trust, it has been declared a State Natural Area by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Detroit Harbor Nature Preserve
The Detroit Harbor Nature Preserve conserves lands important for water quality in Washington Island’s Detroit Harbor and also provides habitat for migrating birds. A short trail goes through the preserve, and another trail connects it to the Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve
Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary
This 43-acre preserve on Washington Island has been nurtured to provide prime bird habitat. This property abuts the grounds of the Washington Island Stavkirke Chapel and meditation trail. A 0.6-mile trail gives access to this preserve.
Ephraim Nature Preserve at Anderson Pond
This parcel preserves not only prime habitat for wildlife but also the ruins of a farmstead that belonged to some of Door County’s first European settlers. Extending over 26 acres, this preserve has a 1-mile looped hiking trail.
Three Springs Nature Preserve
This 515-acre parcel is one piece in a puzzle of properties that protect one of the most ecologically important landscapes in the western Great Lakes. Along with the Ridges Sanctuary and Toft Point State Natural Area, 17,000 acres are preserved in an unfragmented manner. Together they help give habitat for threatened species including the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, dwarf lake iris, and showy lady’s slipper.
Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve
North of the Kangaroo Lake Causeway, this Baileys Harbor area preserve protects multiple, diverse ecological systems. A 1.5-mile trail allows visitors to explore the preserve.
Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve
Seasonal springs that flow during the yearly thaw and rare wildlife are special features of this 160-acre nature preserve. A 1.25-mile looped hiking trail allows visitors to explore this preserve.
Legacy Preserve at Clay Banks
Amazing views and access to Lake Michigan are highlights of this 91-acre nature preserve. Hiking the 1 mile-looped trail takes you over a bluff, down ancient banks of Lake Michigan from previous eons, through a cedar swamp, and to a pebble beach where you’ll want to spend some time lingering. This is one of Hello Door County’s favorite places to take a walk.
Make sure to check out our comprehensive post on the Legacy Preserve at Door County for more information.
Little Lake Nature Preserve
The Little Lake Nature Preserve protects land along the north shore of Washington Island’s only inland lake. A Native American settlement was once located at this site. A 1.25-mile hiking trail allows visitors to traverse its 32 acres of protected land.
Oak Road Nature Preserve
The central feature of this 155-acre preserve is the 40-acre seasonal wetland complex that provides important habitat to migrating waterfowl. It had a 1.75-mile hiking trail that leads to a viewing platform of the wetland.
Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve
Connected to the Detroit Harbor Nature Preserve via the Town of Washington Trail, this 159-acre preserve has a 1.5-mile looped trail inside of it.
Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve
The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve gives access to a Lake Michigan beach and also the west breakwater of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. This is a good place to view the Ship Canal Lighthouse and the Pierhead Lighthouse and also a fine place to hit the beach.
White Cliff Nature Preserve
A 1.5-mile looped hiking trail gives access to this 103-acre preserve in which visitors can encounter rock formations belonging to the Niagara escarpment. This preserve is in the Egg Harbor area and has also been designated a State Natural Area.
Crossroads at Big Creek
The Crossroads at Big Creek is a 200 acre nature preserve in Sturgeon Bay. Admission is free, and it even has free lender cross country skiing and snowshoeing equipment.
The Ridges Sanctuary
The Ridges Sanctuary is a private nature preserve in the Baileys Harbor area. A $5 is charged for adults to hike the trails. They ask that no dogs be brought.
The Ridges Sanctuary is the home of the Baileys Harbor Range Lights.
Door County’s Secret State Park
The first rule of Grand Traverse Island State Park is that you don’t talk about Grand Traverse Island State Park. Okay, that’s not actually a rule, but it might as well be, because nobody talks about it. In fact, there is only an oblique reference to it on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. But, Hello Door County has investigated it, and it does in fact appear that Door County doesn’t just have five state parks. It actually has six. The catch is that Grand Traverse Island State Park is small, not easily accessible, and completely undeveloped. It is located on Detroit Island, which has no ferry service. Visitors must access the island by private boat. Only well-outfitted and experienced boaters should attempt to visit Detroit Island, as the passage is treacherous.
Address: Detroit Island