• Activities:

    Stand Up Paddle, Canoeing, Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Swim at a rare Lake Superior sandy beach, paddle a north woods lake, and hike a peat bog boardwalk all within a few minutes walk. Camping at Big Bay Town Park is the perfect way to experience Madeline Island. 

The largest of Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, Madeline Island is about the size of Manhattan, but extremely sparsely populated and a great place to explore a north woods ecosystem. The best way to get to the island is by ferry from Bayfield to La Pointe. From La Pointe, it is about a ten minute drive to Big Bay Town Park, the best place to camp on the island. There is a state park with camping, but I suggest the town park for its proximity to the sandy beach and better amenities. 

A short walk from the campsites is a boardwalk that leads to Big Bog Lagoon and the beach. The lagoon is essentially a small lake on the island with dozens of islands to explore by canoe or kayak. It is also a great place to see the endangered sandhill crane. The campground provides canoes for campers. Lake Superior has a predominantly rocky shore, so take advantage of the sandy beach to swim, chill, and watch the sunrise. Finally, the beach is also the trailhead for a short boardwalk through a peat bog and northern wetland forest - two interesting ecosystems that are usually hard to access. 

Named for Madeline Cadotte, the daughter of Ojibwe Chief White Crane, the island has a rich American Indian history. The Ojibwe still have land and connections on the island and consider it an important spiritual place. As you explore, please respect the American Indian heritage. 

Pack List

  • Camping Gear
  • Camera
  • Rain Jacket
  • Fishing Gear
  • Kayak 
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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Even though it's at the very tip of the state, it's worth the travel because this is an incredible place. The hiking alone and scenery is above anything else that Wisconsin has to offer. Being isolated on an island -- albeit with a tiny town nearby -- makes it feel all the more special and unique. Definitely put this on your bucket list. Also, the stars and night skies are AMAZING. Simple as that.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The beach and lagoon is beautiful and conveniently located near campground. Rent a canoe and paddle the lagoon or Lake Superior. $10 an hour/honor system. If you're looking for a more secluded campsite or if you are not an early riser, I recommend reserving one of their secluded campsites. The camp ground can get noisy in the morning.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Joe Whitson Explorer

Minnesota Native. Check me out on Instagram: @joewhitson and feel free to shoot me an email if you want to talk more about things to do in Minnesota: joekentwhitson@gmail.com

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