Round-trip: 16 km
Location: Bayfield, WI
Map: Click Here for Trailhead Location
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area has more than 80 km of hiking trails, but they are only accessible by boat for the most part. The 8 km Lakeshore Trail is the only hiking trail in the park that is on the mainland. The lakeshore path is high above the lake and does not go down to the sea caves, but there are a few overlooks that provide very good views of the most popular caves. In winter, this is also the location of the famous ice cave hike.
The first portion of this linear hiking trail is a boardwalk path and becomes a dirt footpath after 1.6 km with a few stream crossings. The trail is well defined up to the overlooks of the park’s most famous sea caves. At about 3 km you will get your first view of a sea cave. You will want to get up close to the edge to see it, but be careful to stay behind the fence line. A lot of people turn back after viewing the first cave, but not much further down the trail, you will get to a second good overlook of another sea cave. It is hard to get good pictures of the caves because of the trees and the steep angle but in person, they are something to see.
Most hikers turn back at this point to make a 6.5 km out-and-back which takes about one and one half hours round trip. Beyond this second overlook, the trail becomes faint and difficult to find and continues along the top of the escarpment for a while and then turns back into the woodlands. There are a few ravines which this trail meanders into and out of with some steeper climbs. Eventually, the trail turns back to the lake and ends at a long stretch of natural beach. At the far end of this beach is the backpacker’s campsite which can be reserved for overnight.