Kohler-Andrae State Park is (currently) the only state park in Wisconsin to give you two parks for the price of one. The Terry Andrae (southern) section of the park was formed in 1928. The John Michael Kohler (of Kohler Company fame) section to the north was added in 1966.
Supposedly these are still two distinct parks, but I can’t find the borderline between them – not that it matters. The state of Wisconsin treats them as one large park.
On this our first trip to Kohler-Andrae, we visited the lakefront and walked the Creeping Juniper Trail in Kohler. Then we technically left the park and re-entered a small separate section called Friends Fishing Pond in the south. So, I guess we actually did make it to both parks in one trip. (All of this followed our visit to Harrington Beach State Park earlier in the morning.)
The Sanderling Nature Center at Kohler-Andrae State Park
I’d love to be able to tell you something about the inside of the Sanderling Nature Center, but it didn’t open until 12:30, and we were there around noon. Maybe next time.
So instead, we walked around to the back of the building which is where the beach is along Lake Michigan. It was a very foggy day on the lake, but we could see a few seagulls in the area. You don’t see them sitting on the water all that often.
Near the Center was this purple martin house and one purple martin perched just outside. Several years ago I started Bird Life List – a record of the different types of birds I’ve seen. This purple martin was bird #36 on that list.
As we approached the water’s edge, we saw quite a few dead alewifes in the sand. I guess they must have washed up with the tide and got stranded. I’m guessing this happens fairly frequently. No one seemed especially upset by them.
The waves lapping on the shore created some interesting patterns in the sand.
The Creeping Juniper Trail
After a short stay at the beach, we turned around and headed toward the Creeping Juniper Trail which starts just across the parking lot from the Sanderling Center. There’s a nice, large sign for the trail which I forgot to take a picture of. Maybe next time.
The trail itself is a boardwalk of short planks connected with a steel cable. Much of the walk is quite nice.
However, some parts need some help.
Fortunately, help seems to be on the way and may have come to the rescue by the time you visit here.
The informational plaques along the trail could use some help too. Many are too washed out by the sun and other elements that you can’t really read them or see the pictures on them. This poison ivy warning was one of the better plaques. That said, there didn’t seem to be any poison ivy in the area anymore.
There are many interesting trees in the area.
Okay, that curved limb turned out to be partly broken, but it looked cool from that angle. What really makes some of the trees in this area interesting is that the soil and climate in the park are just right for them to grow there. You don’t find these species of trees just any old place.
Kohler-Andrae has many bluebird houses along the trails. Sadly, we didn’t see any bluebirds.
Since the Creeping Juniper Trail is largely built on sand (thus, the need for the cabled boardwalk), there are some great views of sand dunes like this.
And of huge “sand traps” like this.
Along part of the trail are these holders on some of the “railing” posts. We think they’re designed to hold temporary lights for nighttime walks, but we’re not absolutely sure.
The Creeping Juniper Trail is a loop that takes you back to the parking lot where you started. So after completing the circuit, we got back in the car and drove out of the Kohler section of the park.
I wanted to go to the Fish Pond in the southwestern area of the Andrea section of the park. It’s kinda strange though. You can’t get to the Pond from the Andrae section near the beach. You have to drive west, then south, then east. It doesn’t really feel like you’re in the state park anymore at that point, but I guess you technically are.
The Friends Fishing Pond
The Fishing Pond is a small body of water that has two trail loops around it. One is paved and stays close to the pond itself. The other is the usual grassy, mown style of trail that is just over a mile long and covers several types of land.
Poking itself into the pond is this pier. I think I could sit there for many hours (and probably would if it were closer to home) and just take in the wildlife.
The pond does have some fish which we could hear jumping and even see in the shallows.
The grassy trail is mostly through prairie-like lands where I saw these pretty, orange flowers.
Later, you travel across this raised boardwalk through a marshy area.
That takes you into a smallish, forested area. For some reason, these tall trees reminded me of The Hobbit.
There were a few large informational signs along the way. Here again is a bluebird reference. The caretakers must really be trying hard to attract them.
Finally, there was this interesting one about the history of the area.
I would gladly return to Kohler-Andrae State Park and maybe we will someday to explore more of the Andrae section along the beach.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin (5 miles)
Nearest Emergency Facility
Sheboygan, Wisconsin (5 miles)
6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round
Vehicle admission sticker required