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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hiking at Whitefish Dunes State Park

I'm finally getting around to finishing up about our short visit to Whitefish Dunes State Park, I'm sure the Naturalist who showed us around thinks we've forgotten all about her!

We took the 2.8 mile red loop to get a good overview of the park.  It passes through forest and dunes, with easy access to the beach as well.  Unlike a lot of state parks, this one is paw friendly, which I know is important to some of you.  Doggies must access the beach at specific locations, so be sure to read the signs and follow the rules.


The trail passes through some woods and a display of earlier village structures has been recreated.  Information about the history of earlier inhabitants can be found in the "People of the Dunes" pamphlet available at the Nature Center, and also here.

Well, you know me, hiking around the parks this time of year just leads to wildflower infatuation.

Thimbleweed...not Thimbleberry

Chokecherry blossoms

The Chokecherry was actually on the Brachiopod trail, another trail that is a little shorter and worth a visit.  It's where we saw the fossils and the Striped Coral Root I mentioned in the other post, and also where I spotted this adorable Buttercup.

Back on the Red Trail There was a lot of plants, including this Red Baneberry which will have berries later on in the season.


Near the Nature Center at the trail head I also spotted a section of Lily of the Valley in bloom.

Lily of the Valley

We also noticed a LOT of poison ivy, so make sure you know what it looks like as it was very plentiful and would be easy to brush against just walking down the trail is some areas. The Orange Hawkweed was scattered everywhere too, but it's harmless to humans so touch away.

One of the highlights of the trail is the ability to access the top of "Old Baldy", a 93 foot dune.  The detour is short but steep and you get a view from the top.  I didn't take a picture so you'll have to go up and see it for yourself.

Lyre leaved Rock Cress

I was quick to note that endangered Dune Thistle was on top of the dune.  If you see it leave it be!  Unfortunately we were a little early and it wasn't in bloom yet.  It's probably in bloom now, it's flower is a cream-to-pinkish color according to the Wisconsin DNR.

After descending the dune we started circling back behind it.  It was my favorite part of the trail - the birds were singing, the sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and the lichen was thriving.  Oh, and we had it all to ourselves.

identification help appreciated!

I googled every plant and grass on the list I picked up at the Nature Center but could not identify the one above so please share if you know what it is.  It was very pretty mixed in with the Hawkweed and lichen along the trail edge.

Hawkweed with lichen and poison ivy

When the trail moved back into the forest we noticed some sections with quite a few trees cut down.  The area had apparently suffered an outbreak from Beech Bark Disease and that's why they were removed.  As we all know, opening up sections of the forest may make for exciting changes, we'll have to come back years in the future and see what grows.

Thinking about visiting in August?  Don't miss the Candlelight Beach Walk!


  1. overwhelmingly GREEN!
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. The Midwest has had an unbelievable amount of rain this spring and summer. You should see the corn!