Photos by Aleah Kidd
Although Ellison Bluff County Park is on the shoreline of Green Bay just south of Ellison Bay, there’s no access to the water because the bluffs facing the lake soar 100 feet high. There is, however, a wonderful lookout and picnic area complete with a stairway that takes visitors to the very edge of the cliffs so that they can witness the spectacular views of the shoreline below. At 174 acres, with 7,000 feet of shoreline, this is the largest county park. *Correction: Door Bluff Headlands is actually larger, at 252 acres.
It’s hard to peel your eyes away from the water view, but the hiking is also wonderful. The hiking trail that loops around the parking-lot area is an updated, flat, handicapped-friendly trail with packed stone that’s also easy to navigate with strollers and wagons. It’s an interpretive trail as well, meaning it has 10 informative signs that tell the story of the park and its flora and fauna.
On the unseasonably warm November day when I visited, there were still many areas of the trail that were richly colored with fall leaves hanging on the branches. One section was full of mature red oaks with deep rust-colored leaves and plenty of squirrels squirreling away their winter food. Another was largely filled with beech trees, surrounding me with the lighter orange of their oval leaves. The hike was winding and peaceful, with moments of complete quiet on a windless day.
The forest is a northern mesic forest that contains sugar maple, red oak, beech and white ash, with the bluffs hosting cedar and pine trees. It’s said that some trees in the park are more than 250 years old. As for wildlife, look for a large variety of birds and 26 land snails, including five rare species and two glacial relict species. I didn’t have any snail sightings during my hike, but there’s always next time.