New Trail to Link Cave Point, Whitefish Dunes Parks

Grants also OK’d for Potawatomi kayak launch, Peninsula picnic tables

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on April 17 announced grants to 24 state park Friends Groups across the state from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, including three state park Friends groups in Door County.

Those included:

Whitefish Dunes State Park – $20,000 toward a trail to Cave Point County Park. Visitors frequently walk the half mile between the two parks, but Whitefish Dunes State Park Manager Sarah Stepanik said it’s more of a hiker-made, trampled-down line than a dedicated trail. 

At present, many hikers walk too close to the cliff along Lake Michigan, the unmaintained route has a lot of roots, and there are pervasive erosion problems to the shelf along and above the lake edge, Stepanik said.

Stepanik said a new dedicated trail, with a safer, more-consistent surface will still provide views of the lake and give people opportunities to walk out near the edge. 

The $20,000 grant and $20,000 match from the Friends group will cover costs of a crushed gravel trail, Stepanik said, anticipating trailwork starting in the fall. John Swanson, President of the board of the Friends, said ecologists need to survey the proposed trail route prior to construction.

Swanson said people have been walking in locations where endangered species, such as dwarf lake iris, grow. He said the grant allows the hiring of a contractor to build the 4- to 5-foot-wide trail and side trails toward the water. Preliminary plans also call for a small boardwalk and possibly a rail near a “blowhole,” where water shoots upward when large waves slam the shore, he said.

Potawatomi State Park – $20,000 to match about $27,000 to be raised by the Friends for an accessible kayak launch. Superintendent Erin Brown Stender said installation could take place as early as autumn. She said the launch would be installed each spring and removed at the end of the season. If the launch can’t be installed until the last couple of weeks of the season, the park leaders will wait until spring, Brown Stender said.

Traci Bournoville, Friends of Potawatomi State Park President, said her group is trying for a Community Investment Grant from Destination Door County (DDC) for $27,000 to complete fundraising for the kayak launch. 

Bournoville hopes to see fewer people tipping over when they launch, and she believes the specially-designed launch cradle will bring more users to the park. The park store vendor, Bay Sport Outfitters, rents kayaks and is considering leading kayak tours. 

Peninsula State Park – $20,000 to match $20,000 raised by the Friends group for the second phase of replacing picnic tables and fire rings in the campgrounds throughout the park, said Bill Pennoyer, Friends board member. Friends member Judy Ortiz said the group last year replaced fire rings and picnic tables in the Nicolet Bay campgrounds. Park superintendent Eric Hyde said the $40,000 should allow replacement of all the fire rings and picnic tables in the park campgrounds.