This month we’ve traveled away from home, there’s new blog material! My Traveling Partner and I are serving as volunteer campground hosts at Point Beach State Forest near Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Our main job is to clean campsites after campers check out, serve as an onsite information source, and generally look after the campground. Most of the cleaning is Sunday afternoon and Monday after the busy weekends. We pick up any trash left behind and scoop out the fire pits if there was wood burned in the provided fire ring. Almost all the campers leave sites like they found them or even better. However, there are few rude campers that violate the written and unwritten rules of camping, clean up after yourself! It’s a job that allows us to spend time outdoors and still be self-contained in our socially distanced bubble. We took off a couple of days to go home to mow the lawn, do laundry, and take care of some business. We both remarked how quiet the campground is compared to living in a busy, vibrant, noisy city.
Point Beach State Forest was established in 1938 and is part of the Wisconsin State Park system. The eastern boundary is six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Some of that shoreline is sandy beaches popular with visitors on warm, sunny days. Currently, the level of Lake Michigan is quite high so some the beaches are inaccessible. The park covers over 2900 acres of forested land intermixed with bogs and high ground. There are several miles of hiking, biking, cross-country ski trails. The popular bike trail connects to the Mariners Bike Trail that winds it’s way for twelve miles along Lake Michigan down to the city of Manitowoc.
The campground features 127 sites, half with electric and a few with water. There are five one way roads that contain campsites. One is nicknamed Snake Road because it’s narrow and winds through the undulating terrain. One part of Snake Road reminds me of the squiggly road at the tip of Door County near the access to the Washington Island Ferry. This photo doesn’t do it justice but I think of the comparison every time we travel down the road.
Here are a few photos from around the campground.
The Ridges Trail begins in the Lodge parking lot and loops through the campground and beyond. In some places the trail is one way, good for social distancing! The walk through the forest is peaceful and pleasant. On our walks, we stop often to admire the natural world, like the woodpeckers having a fight over territory or the many thirteen stripped gophers running through the underbrush.
If I was titling this photo, it would be “Into the Woods.”
Here are some nature photos, I took on our walks. I especially like the mushroom photo. To take this photo, I held my camera close to the ground to make the mushroom look larger than life. It took a few snaps to get the right angle and the main subject in focus. I also had to work around the presence of poison ivy that is abundant in the forest.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of standing water and boggy areas on the property. In our first few days, those swampy areas reminded me of the bayous in Louisiana, minus the alligators!
A portion of the 1200 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail loops through Point Beach. The Ice Age Trial follows the terminal moraine in Wisconsin from the last ice age that occurred many thousands of years ago. My Traveling Partner and I walked a part of the trail through Point Beach, I confess only a mile or so, just to say we walked the trail!
Lake Michigan is a big influence on Point Beach. When the weather is nice, the beach is filled with sun worshippers, most socially distanced. There are some brave souls that swim in the cold lake water and a few that surf, paddle board, kayak, or canoe. The rip tides can be treacherous at times, there is no lifeguard so it’s swim at your own risk. On the Labor Day weekend, there were lots of visitors using the beach. Since the water in Lake Michigan is unusually high, the beach is narrow in most places and none existence in others. Here are a few photos of fun at the beach.
When the waves are high and water on Lake Michigan rough, we can hear them crashing into the shoreline from our campsite about a 1/8 mile from the beach. One morning I took a short video to show the power and sound of the water, it was a relatively mild day on the Lake.
One of the attractions located within the borders of Point Beach State Forest is the Rawley Point Light. The original lighthouse was built in 1853 and was succeeded by sturdier upgrades over the the years. The light-keepers house you see in the foreground of the photos was also continuously improved. The light was automated in 1979 after being taken over by the U. S. Coast Guard. This station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse keepers quarters is now rented to active duty military, service disabled veterans, and Department of Defense civilians. The house sleeps eight and offers modern amenities for the low price of $80 per night (minimum 2 nights, max 7 nights). Rental is by phone at the Coast Guard station in Milwaukee. It’s a beautiful site, I’d recommended checking it out if you fit one of the categories above.
Near the Light is a bench honoring one of the lighthouse keepers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief tour around Point Beach State Forest. If you haven’t visited, well it’s about time! I think you’ll appreciate the natural beauty, the well kept trails, and the beaches of Lake Michigan. The park staff are friendly and helpful. When you come, say “hi” to Erin, Pat, Amanda, and all the maintenance and cleaning staff. By the way, I should mention, a Wisconsin state park sticker is required to enter the property.
Next week, join me for a tour of the nearby town of Two Rivers.
Until then, happy travels!