This Year in Outdoor 2023

Door County Triathlon Named Best in Country

Door County Triathlon finishers. File photo.

This spring, USA Today readers named the Door County Triathlon the best in the country after six weeks of voting. A panel of experts had nominated 20 races for the vote, and the Door County event won over triathlons such as the Hawaii 70.3, the Chicago Triathlon and the Escape from Alcatraz.

The Year of the Trophy Trout

Ryan Younk of Forestville holds his award-winning trout. File photo by Talan Younk.

Early 2023 was a great time for fishing in Door County, according to Wild Things columnist Kevin Naze. During the 35th Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament in April, all five of the winning fish weighed in at over 20 pounds, with the winner being Ryan Younk’s 35-inch, 22.81-pound brown trout.

Trackchairs Make Local Parks More Accessible

Tiffany Leist tests the trackchair in 2022, taking it down the Sentinel Trail in Peninsula State Park. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

The grounds of The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor became more accessible this spring when Kinect M1 donated a motorized, all-terrain wheelchair called a trackchair. The Green Bay business donated another such device to Fish Creek’s Peninsula State Park on May 9, making it the first Wisconsin state park to offer a trackchair.

Accessible Playgrounds Open

Sturgeon Bay’s new Otumba Park Playground opened in June. Fundraising manager Ashley Schanock raised the $500,000 necessary to create the park and the ADA-accessible equipment that now fills it. A soft opening for Baileys Harbor’s own accessible playground, Kendall Park, took place in December. Local parent Kari Baumann spearheaded planning and fundraising for the new $540,000 playground. 

New Memorial Prize Honors Washington Island Sportsman 

Bradley Jordan of Sturgeon Bay landed this trophy Chinook salmon in 2022. File photo by Ryan Jorgenson.

Washington Island residents mourned the loss of one of their own during the annual Kewaunee/Door (K/D) County Salmon Tournament this July: 23-year-old Bradley Jordan, a fisherman who grew up on the island and died in a motorcycle accident near Baileys Harbor in July. To honor his memory, Jordan’s friends and family created a new Bradley Jordan Memorial Prize and awarded it to the person who registered the heaviest salmon on the island during the 2023 tournament.

Rock Island Gets National Historic Landmark Designation

A sunset on Rock Island. File photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

A 2.5-acre portion of Rock Island State Park was named a National Historic Landmark by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Dec. 13. The site located on the southern shore of Rock Island is one of 16 sites added to the list of more than 2,600 such sites.

Plans for New Trails Throughout the Peninsula 

Purpose-built trails, like this one and the one planned for Peninsula State Park, take advantage of natural contours to minimize altering grounds. File photo by Chris Miller.

Scott Linnenburger of Boulder, Colorado’s Kay-Linn Enterprises dug deep into the woods of Peninsula State Park this summer to design 15 miles of purpose-built, off-road biking trails.

A proposed multimodal path would run along the west side of Highway 42 in north Ephraim. File photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

In August, the Ephraim Village Board voted to build a 6-foot-wide pedestrian-only path, rather than proceed with a planned multimodal path, along the north end of the village.

File photo by Rachel Lukas.

In September, volunteers helped reroute the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Potawatomi State Park. The trail was moved away from the existing shared-use ski and bike trail and onto the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, a geologic formation that runs from Door County to New York state. In December, the Ice Age Trail finally became a unit of the National Park System.

  • In November, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) published a summary of public comments on a proposed master plan variance to allow an expansion of equestrian trails in Newport State Park. Though a decision from the DNR on the variance was expected to be posted on their website by the end of November, it has not yet been posted.

The proposed route. File photo.

The proposed route. File photo.

Door County residents met Dec. 12 for an open house to provide ideas and learn more about proposed bicycle and walking trails linking Northern Door communities and beaches. The accessible trails would span 11 miles from Fish Creek to Frank E. Murphy County Park and beach in the Town of Egg Harbor.