Photos by Maddy Schierl
Although Cave Point County Park’s half-mile trail is short, it’s dense with spectacular views. It traces limestone and dolomite ledges that line the Lake Michigan shoreline, and it dips into forests of birch, maple and beech before linking up with trails in the adjacent Whitefish Dunes State Park.
The cliffs are part of the Niagara Escarpment, a geological feature that stretches from Door County to Niagara Falls in New York. The exposed dolomite layers in Cave Point County Park are roughly 400 million years old.
While standing along the shoreline, hikers can enjoy sweeping views of the water and the escarpment. Trees creep right up to the edge of the cliffs, clinging to the rocky ground with twisted, ancient-looking roots; and small, hardy flowers peep out from fractures in the cliff faces during the spring and summer.
Cave Point is a great place to visit in all kinds of weather. During the winter, the cliffs are bearded with stunning ice formations. On sunny summer days, the water is a glinting blue-green, and kayakers paddle along the shoreline, looking for hidden caves and waving at hikers on the trail above the water. Although slippery conditions necessitate caution and keeping a safe distance from the ledges during rainy weather, Cave Point is the perfect place to witness the stunning power of Lake Michigan: Waves crash into the cliff faces, and water sprays up to 30 feet in the air.
Despite the trail’s frequent unevenness courtesy of rocks and roots, it offers an easy, relaxing hike with no noticeable change in elevation. There’s a welcoming green space at the trailhead, complete with picnic benches and a gazebo for pre- or post-hike snacking.