Door County is a haven for outdoor adventurers. There are several stunning islands to explore off the peninsula’s coast. The islands of Door County are shrouded in history and mystery. Kayakers and boaters are eager to discover these intriguing destinations. Horseshoe Island, named for its distinctive shape, is a spring and summer destination that visitors won’t want to miss!
Curious about what else there is to explore in Door County, WI? Download our free Vacation Guide for an insider’s look at the peninsula’s best attractions!
History of Horseshoe Island in Door County
The rocky 38-acre island was a home and fishing site for Native Americans for over 2,500 years. In 1850, a Norwegian immigrant named Ole Larsen settled on the island and supplied fuelwood for ships that passed in Green Bay.
35 years later, the Foldas family purchased Horseshoe Island and used it as a summer retreat until the Great Depression forced them to relinquish the property. In 1944, it became a part of Peninsula State Park. If you search closely enough, you may still find evidence of the Foldas family lodge and root cellar on the island.
Getting to Horseshoe Island
The island is off the coast of Peninsula State Park, about one mile off the coast of the park’s most popular swimming beach, Nicolet Beach. Horseshoe Island is only accessible via boat or kayak, so be prepared to journey out on the lake.
If you’re interested in kayaking to Horseshoe Island, there are kayak rentals at Nicolet Beach Concessions in Peninsula State Park. You can also rent bikes and stand-up paddleboard there for use in the park.
Things to Do 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 to Explore in Door County
Horseshoe Island is one of the many incredible islands to visit by boat or kayak. Here are a few more of our favorite adventure spots. A visit to these islands is the perfect way to spend 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.
Relax at The Ashbrooke
As one of the only adults-only hotels in Door County, The Ashbrooke 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. 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!