The Toft Point Natural Area is one of my favorite hikes at any time of the year. The trail begins off Ridges Road, where there’s a small parking area, and it travels northeast through a mile of forest toward a spectacular, rocky dolomite shoreline on Moonlight Bay.
Round trip, the easy hike is about two miles, and it provides various points of interest along the way, including the historic Toft guest cottages and barn, remnants of a stone quarry and an old lime kiln, which – according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – is one of the state’s best intact examples of the early circular kilns that once dotted parts of the Niagara Escarpment.
The areas of vegetation are also of interest. They change from a forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, balsam fir and scattered white pine, to a tamarack swamp and wetland, to a boreal forest dominated by balsam fir and white spruce. In some areas, it’s thick and green and impossible to see through, but in other places, the pines are so tall that you have a shady understory to explore.
The flat, easy trail is open to hikers and snowshoers year-round. It does get rocky and wet near the shoreline, however, so look for slippery rocks and exposed roots.
From the intersection of Highway 57 and Ridges Road on the north end of Baileys Harbor, travel east on Ridges Road for about 1.4 miles, then north on an access lane at fire number 8380 to the parking area.