A light rainstorm in a state park where trees provide some shelter against the elements may not deter the average hiker from proceeding with caution to trek through a trail. An off-road path that’s already laden with rocks and tree roots and beginning to get muddy, however, may not accommodate a cyclist’s tires, even when approached with care.
Potawatomi State Park offers the ideal backup biking plan during mildly or moderately inclement weather. More than six miles of road snaking throughout the park can substitute for the eight miles of off-road bike routes. To follow a loop, begin from any parking lot beyond the visitor-services entrance. Shoreline Road, North Norway Road and South Norway Road all turn into each other as the pavement runs continuously, so you’ll end up back wherever you started biking.
While cycling more safely on pavement, the calm, ambient sound of light rain creates a serene park experience. Especially after a stretch of hot and humid days, you can almost feel the forest growing taller and greener.
Non-weather-related reasons arise for sticking to the roads, too: Maybe you don’t own a mountain bike, or maybe you’d prefer to focus on simply cycling long distances without the added challenge of difficult terrain. Plus, most of the off-road paths at Potawatomi State Park stay inland and don’t offer views of the bay the way Shoreline Road does. A section of pavement running parallel to the road at the southeast end of the park includes several areas for a picnic stop or snack break along Sturgeon Bay.
A state-park road guarantees a bike ride through wilderness that city streets and neighborhoods may not provide. Of Door County’s five state parks, Potawatomi seems to best suit roadway biking because the pavement both conveniently follows a loop and experiences light vehicle traffic.
And have no fear of missing out by choosing pavement because the wildlife features of the park still cross your path: Limestone cliffs, dense forest, water views, overlook stops and even deer characterize the roadways. Notable stops with a grand view include the Ice Age Trail’s eastern terminus and Old Ski Hill Overlook.
Where: Potawatomi State Park
Length: 6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate; expect hills, including one very steep incline along Shoreline Road.
Highlights: Biking on the paved roads throughout the park is a convenient option for avoiding difficult off-road terrain and riding more safely in light to moderate rain.