Kohler-Andrae State Park

Kohler-Andrae State Park

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

Sanderling Nature Center

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.

Seagulls on Lake Michigan
Seagull flying over Lake Michigan

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.

Purple martin house
Purple martin

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.

Dead alewife

The waves lapping on the shore created some interesting patterns in the sand.

Waves and sand #1
Waves and sand #2

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.

Creeping Juniper Trail boardwalk

However, some parts need some help.

Broken boardwalk

Fortunately, help seems to be on the way and may have come to the rescue by the time you visit here.

Replacement wood for boardwalk

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.

Poison ivy plaque

There are many interesting trees in the area.

Bent limb of pine tree

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.

Bluebird house

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.

Dunes in Kohler-Andrae near Lake Michigan

And of huge “sand traps” like this.

Sand trap among the dunes
Golfing would not be fun here

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.

Light holder on post?

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

Friends Fishing Pond at Kohler-Andrae State Park

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.

Fishing Pond
Fishing Pond from the northwest

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.

Pier in Fishing Pond

The pond does have some fish which we could hear jumping and even see in the shallows.

Fish in the pond

The grassy trail is mostly through prairie-like lands where I saw these pretty, orange flowers.

Orange flowers

Later, you travel across this raised boardwalk through a marshy area.

Boardwalk over marsh

That takes you into a smallish, forested area. For some reason, these tall trees reminded me of The Hobbit.

Forest near the Fishing Pond
We went there and back again.

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.

Bluebird info plaque

Finally, there was this interesting one about the history of the area.

Lost Lake info plaque

I would gladly return to Kohler-Andrae State Park and maybe we will someday to explore more of the Andrae section along the beach.

Location

Nearest City

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (5 miles)

Nearest Emergency Facility

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (5 miles)

Hours

6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round

Cost

Vehicle admission sticker required

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