There are 5 state parks in Door County, Wisconsin. We had originally thought to visit all of them in one trip, but we decided to “knock off” the southernmost, Potawatomi State Park, with a separate trip of its own. (We still plan to hit the other 4 parks in one week in June of 2023.)
Everywhere a Sign
Potawatomi State Park is very well-marked with signage. In fact, there are several that, even though they are necessary, you may at first wonder about as to their usefulness
We hiked the Hemlock Trail on this visit. It’s an easy loop that’s a little over 2 miles long. We started at parking lot #4 and walked counterclockwise.
One of the first signs we encountered was this “Trail Closed” sign. It looks like it belongs out on the highway, but it really does belong here where you see it. On this day, it was off the main path. (Along this stretch, Hemlock doubles as part of the Ice Age Trail.)
The reason it’s needed became clearer as we continued past it to the north, paralleling Sturgeon Bay (the water). The blacktop is wet in the picture below, not because it had just rained, but because there was a stream flowing from left to right, from the higher central portion of the park down to the bay.
This was May. I can imagine that, during wetter times of the year or during and after a heavy downpour, this section of the trail would become impassable. Therefore, these Trail Closed signs (another further north past the wet spot) are definitely needed.
Have you been there when these signs blocked your way?
Besides those signs, there isn’t much else that makes Potawatomi State Park stand out. The Hemlock Trail itself, as I suggested earlier, has plenty of signs. A couple of them, however, could stand to be replaced.
Most such guideposts, though, looked just fine. We were particularly impressed that, even though the designers could have settled for “one sign fits all”, someone decided to get a little creative and make multiple designs to mark this trail. Here are just two examples.
I wonder if they did this for all the trails in this park. Do you know if they did?
Sometimes, they spelled out which way to go, instead of just using iconography.
Cross-country skiing seems to be promoted here. For this reason, there are signs that tell you, the cross-country skier, if you’re going the proper direction or not.
I assume there must be a law about marking the border of the park every so often where it is adjacent to private property. Still, it feels strange to come across the back side of a sign while hiking along a trail.
We checked out the other side just to make sure. (I guess we were technically on private property while doing so. Please don’t tell anyone.)
Parks generally have signs with a map of the entire park and a “You Are Here” marking in the appropriate place. Sometimes those maps indicate your location with an arrow. Sometimes there’s a screw twisted into place. Sometimes a rivet shows you where you are.
Potawatomi’s signs were different from one to the next. This one I found most interesting. It gives you that personalized feeling.
Things to See on the Hemlock Trail
Jutting out into Sturgeon Bay (again, the water) is a nicely-made, fishing pier.
From the end of it, you can see Sturgeon Bay (the city) to the south and (probably) as far as Green Bay to the north.
Along the bay is a playground and a shelter. (You can only see a portion of the building below.)
The only ship we saw on the water was this one. I think I heard some others in the distance.
Maybe it’s just because there wasn’t much else to see, but it seemed like there was more moss on the rocks along the trail than in other places we’ve hiked.
The hike itself was generally easy. The toughest part was probably these stone steps that zig to the left and then zag to the right on the way up.
There weren’t many benches along the trail, but this nice one was dedicated via an engraving in the wood.
The question arose as to what exactly hemlock looks like. The trail signs (see above) gave some clues. I don’t think this tree was a hemlock, but it had interesting foliage and bark, so I took its picture.
Potawatomi State Park isn’t a place we’ll likely return to, but it did provide a good trail to hike for a couple hours.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (4 miles)
Nearest Emergency Facility
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (4 miles)
6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round
Vehicle admission sticker required