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The Ahnapee State Trail in northeast Wisconsin provides a scenic 45-mile journey between Sturgeon Bay and Kewaunee, featuring a tour of water bodies along the Door Peninsula. It also overlaps two sections of the Ice Age Trail (totaling about 17 miles): from Kewaunee to just shy of Luxemburg, and from Algoma on the shores of Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay. The Ice Age Trail is a 1,200-mile hiking route across the state and a National Scenic Trail.
The trail follows the former corridor of the Ahnapee and Western Railway, which once served as an industrial link between Door, Brown, and Kewaunee Counties. The steam- and diesel-powered locomotives hauled dairy goods, cherry crops, and lumber until the early 1970s.
Start your journey at Sturgeon Bay, home to a variety of restaurants and cafés. Parking is available at the northernmost trailhead at South Neenah Avenue and Wilson Road, just south of town, as well as at various points throughout the city. The first 11.5 miles to the town of Forestville traverse agricultural fields and forested areas. At Forestville Dam County Park, you’ll find parking, restrooms, and your first views of the Ahnapee River through the trees to the west. You’ll follow the Ahnapee River south another 6.1 miles to the town of Algoma, where the river flows into Lake Michigan.
The route detours briefly in Algoma to Navarino Street, where you can opt to continue for several blocks on-road to the lakefront. Crescent Beach and its attractive boardwalk are located just farther south, along Lake Street. To bypass Algoma, make a sharp right turn to stay on the trail, just past Birch Street.
About 10.5 miles past Algoma, just beyond Casco, trail users can detour west to the town of Luxemburg or head east along the Kewaunee River, which playfully disappears and reappears along the remaining 12.3 miles of trail. Along this segment, you’ll find fields of sunflowers and apple orchards that sometimes shed their bounty on the trail (a favorite of horses).
Bruemmer Park, located just outside of Kewaunee, offers shady spots to rest and a small zoo, which is open from 7 a.m. to sunset year-round and offers free admission. As you reach the southern end of the trail, it curves north and splits, with one prong leading to Main Street, just above two marinas, and the other leading to the trail’s southern terminus where the Kewaunee River empties into Lake Michigan.
Here, you’ll find an old train depot that has been converted into a public pavilion with parking. Explore the old clock tower on the depot for a piece of history, or enjoy the lake and the various shops and restaurants that Kewaunee has to offer.
NOTE: Snowmobilers and ATV/UTV users must display either a Wisconsin registration or an ATV/UTV or snowmobile State Trail Pass. For more information, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html.
To access the northern trailhead and parking at Sturgeon Bay from SR 42, turn south off SR 42 onto S. Neenah Ave. Go 1.2 miles and, with a cornfield and a brown AHNAPEE STATE TRAIL l sign on your right, turn left to reach the parking area (0.2 mile north of Wilson Road). Parking is also available at various locations toward Sturgeon Bay, such as Cherry Blossom Park on S. Lansing Ave. and various on-street spots.
To access the southern trailhead in Kewaunee from I-43, take Exit 171 for Depere Road toward Greenleaf/Denmark, heading east, and follow Depere for 0.9 mile—Depere Road turns into Main St. along the way. Veer right onto Wisconsin Ave. and continue for 0.2 mile. Bear left to continue on County Road KB for 2.3 miles, crossing the Neshota River, and then turn left onto County Road P. After 6 miles, turn right onto SR 29 E./SR 29 Trunk E. Go 14.4 miles and turn left onto Milwaukee St., noting the ahnapee state trail sign on your right at the intersection of Milwaukee and Harrison Sts. In 0.1 mile, turn left into the trailhead parking lot, located across the street from Harbor Park and a restaurant parking lot.
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