Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center News

Shhh! Sneak Up on Winter With Silent Sports

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Door County is famous for some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Midwest, and with four state parks in our county, we’ve got enough trails to keep you gliding along all winter. Here are five great locations right in our own Sturgeon Bay backyard:

Potawatomi State Park has four different cross-country loops totaling about 8.5 miles. Trails start near the picnic shelter, and there are water and toilets available. Folks who fancy snowshoeing or hiking can explore most of the park as long as they stay off of the groomed winter ski trails.

Crossroads at Big Creek, a non-profit education center located in Sturgeon Bay, is home to five miles of groomed ski trails maintained for Nordic skiing with classic and skate lanes. The trails are generally kept in excellent condition, with no fees for usage, but donations are gratefully accepted! Two miles of separate hiking trails are provided for snowshoe enthusiasts. One of the great things about snowshoeing or old-fashioned hiking is your ability to get off the beaten (or groomed) paths and venture out into the wilderness. Just be sure you get permission to be there and follow all common sense safety rules.

Ahnapee State Trail - Looking for a long-distance cross-country trail? The Ahnapee State Trail runs 40+ miles from downtown Sturgeon Bay along the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers through Algoma, winding south until it splits in three directions to head west, northeast, and southeast to the city of Kewaunee. In the winter, the trail is open to cross-country skiers, snowshoe enthusiasts, and snowmobiles. The trail is flat and easy to navigate, and you can easily access the trail at different points. However, you do have to “share the trail” with some non-silent sport machines!

Whitefish Dunes State Park - This beautiful park along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan helps protect the fragile dune environment in this section of Door County. The park has 14.5 miles of hiking trails. When there's snow, the Red, Green and Yellow trails are groomed and can be used for cross-country skiing. They also have the Black trail that is reserved for snowshoeing. There are eight separate trails that will take you through shoreline and forested dunes, beech forest, and pine plantations.

Cave Point  - A stop at Cave Point is a “must-do” on your travel itinerary any time of the year. Cave Point county park is just north of Whitefish Dunes State Park. The spectacular limestone cliffs and caves, carved out by the fierce waves that pound the Lake Michigan shoreline, are spectacular in the winter. The trail south through the county park is only about half a mile long, but it connects with a trail in the state park and continues along the bluffs.

Eager to hit the trails but don’t have your own gear? It’s easy to rent skis and snowshoes from several Sturgeon Bay outfitters, all listed under Experience. The outfitter stores can also give you local advice on current trail conditions, “secret spots” to explore, and tips for making your experience memorable. The Door County website has updated ski and weather conditions on their pages, with links to trail maps. You can also check out Door County Silent Sport Alliance for great information.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Winter is no longer the dependable white Wisconsin wonderland it used to be years ago. But the good news is that there are lots of fun silent sports that don’t depend on the fluffy white stuff. They might not be quite as aerobic as cross-country skiing, but they are all motor-free and a terrific way to get outside and play.

For people who love to fish and sail, the colder weather can mean the end of their enjoyment and the beginning of their winter of discontent. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Welcome to ice fishing and ice boating, Sturgeon Bay-style.

From fresh lake perch, trout, walleye, to whitefish and pike, anglers have virtually every species of fish available during ice fishing season. And since you don’t need a boat to get to the “best spot,” fishermen can go anywhere it’s safe. Because large bodies of water surround Sturgeon Bay on both sides, visitors often hire a fishing guide to have a better chance of landing the big one.

Ice boaters prefer their winter cold, windy, and barren of snow. In fact, nothing makes an ice boater happier than to see a frozen lake with the frigid winter wind howling across the ice. Whether you’re the skipper or spectator, an ice boat race is an amazing experience. (We recommend watching inside while sipping hot chocolate!)

Silent sports on ice wouldn’t be complete without ice-skating. If there’s not enough snow to ski or snowshoe, rent some skates, twirl around one of our local ice rinks or skating ponds, and feel like a kid again. Sure, your ankles might be wobbly after fifteen minutes on the ice—but you may be having too much fun to notice.

And speaking of feeling like a kid again, where were the snow bikes (also known as fat bikes) when we were growing up? These amazing all-terrain bikes with their enormous tires guarantee a joy ride no matter what the weather brings. Snow—crusty snow—muddy snow or no snow, rent one of these fat bikes from our local Sturgeon Bay outfitters and you’ll be off riding along the beach, on the ice, or anywhere your two legs and imagination take you.

Add silent sports to your bucket list and Sturgeon Bay, Door County is sure to become your “go-to” winter destination. Whether you’re going to swoosh down cross-country trails or ride a fat bike along the shoreline, plan your trip to Sturgeon Bay, Door County now. Once you go, you won’t be able to keep quiet about how much fun you had doing silent sports this winter!