It’s no secret that Door County is a haven for outdoor adventurers, but did you know that there are several stunning small islands to explore off the peninsula’s coast? The islands of Door County are shrouded in history and mystery and boaters are always eager to discover these intriguing destinations. Horseshoe Island is a one-of-a-kind location in Green Bay that is just waiting to be explored by you!
Do you want to learn about more hidden gems throughout Door County, WI? Download our complimentary Vacation Guide for local tips about our area’s best attractions!
Learn About Horseshoe Island
Horseshoe’s Island Original History
Horseshoe Island is a rocky 38-acre island that was a home and fantastic fishing site for Native Americans for over 2500 years. After that, a Norwegian immigrant named Ole Larsen settled on the island and supplied fuelwood for ships that passed by. In 1885, the Foldas family purchased the land and used it as a fun-filled summer retreat. Eventually, the Great Depression hit and forced them to relinquish the property.
In 1944, Horseshoe Island became a part of Peninsula State Park, and remains that way today. If you visit the island and search hard enough, you might be able to find evidence of what was once the Foldas family lodge and root cellar.
Fun Fact: It’s rumored that renowned French explorer Jean Nicolet might have camped at Horseshoe Island in 1634, or at least paddled past in his birch bark canoe!
Getting to Horseshoe Island
Horseshoe Island is known for its distinctive shape and is easy to spot from air. It’s located about a mile off the coast of Nicolet Beach, a popular swimming spot within the state park. The island is only accessible via boat, so be prepared to journey out into Lake Michigan.
If you’re interested in kayaking to Horseshoe Island, there are kayak rentals at Nicolet Beach Concessions in Peninsula State Park. You can rent bikes and stand-up paddleboards there as well.
If you own your own boat, you can venture out to the isle on your own.
Things To Do on Horseshoe Island
Once you dock at the island’s shore; you’re welcome to explore the pristine and breathtaking landscape. Here are a few of our favorite activities on Horseshoe Island:
- Hiking: The Engelmar Trail is a 1-mile path that wraps around the circumference of the 38-acre island.
- Fishing: Trout are abundant in the waters around Horseshoe Island. Be sure you have your Wisconsin fishing license before casting the line!
- Wildlife Viewing: As you explore the island, you’ll find a wide variety of local wildlife, mainly water birds. Take a look at the nature and wildlife guide to Peninsula State Park for a comprehensive look at what you can expect to see!
More Islands To Explore in Door County
Door County is home to so many more hidden gems! Here are a few more of our favorite adventure spots to visit on a spring or summer day!
- Washington Island: Accessible via the Washington Island Ferry Line, this island is a destination all by itself. Tour the island on the Cherry Train, hit the beach, or take part in a Door County fish boil.
- Cana Island: The most famous attraction on Cana Island is the historic lighthouse. Climb up the steep spiral staircase and enjoy the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan from the top!
- Chamber’s Island: This charming and secluded island is perfect for travelers looking to get off the beaten path. Explore the lighthouse, have a romantic picnic, or hike through the wilderness trails.
- Eagle’s Bluff Lighthouse: If you’re already visiting Peninsula State Park, be sure to admire this stunning fixture.
Relax at The Ashbrooke Hotel
As one of the only adults-only hotels in Door County, The Ashbrooke Hotel is the ideal destination for couples looking to get away from it all. We’re conveniently located near the best local attractions on the peninsula, so adventure is always at your fingertips. Our guests will also find well-appointed rooms, luxury amenities, and access to exclusive specials and vacation packages!
Ready for the vacation of a lifetime? Browse our rooms and suites and start planning your romantic getaway today!