by Maddy Schierl, [email protected]
Winding through pleasant forests framed by Lake Michigan on one side and the inland Europe Lake on the other, Newport State Park’s Europe Bay Trail is perfect if you’re craving a peaceful, woodsy retreat. To access the trail, enter Newport State Park through the main entrance – just past Ellison Bay, near the northern tip of the peninsula – and drive to Lot 3.
This time of year, the woodland trail is lined with snowy white trilliums and dotted with small wildflower blossoms. Before embarking on Europe Bay’s seven-mile loop, be sure to take in the view of the Lake Michigan shoreline located right at the trailhead, and make use of the picnic tables if you prefer to pair your vista with a picnic.
The quiet, unpaved path is relatively easy to follow through the boreal forests, and rustic signs are posted intermittently to guide you. Although the trail does cross Europe Bay Road twice, the road isn’t busy, and you will scarcely encounter a car. The path is relatively level, but wear sturdy hiking shoes just to be safe. It’s also a good idea to take along some water, bug spray and a granola bar or two.
After exploring the Europe Bay Trail area by day, experience it in a whole new light (or, rather, without any light at all) by returning at night for some dark-sky stargazing. Newport State Park is the first park in Wisconsin to be recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as a dark-sky park. Check the weather to ensure that you’ll have clear skies, take blankets and bug spray, and stargaze away.