Rock Island State Park – Part 1

Breakfast on Washington Island was over.  I packed my backpack with enough gear for one night and took a ferry to Rock Island State Park at the farthest end of the Door Peninsula before it changes over to the UP.  I’m splitting this into several posts because I took tons of pictures – stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 coming soon.

Karfi Ferry from Jackson Harbor

First step in getting to Rock Island is to hop on the Karfi ferry at Jackson Harbor.  No cars or bicycles are allowed and all campsites are walk-in only so pack your bags accordingly!  Some cool billowy clouds over part of the island.

What’s that giant building we’re heading towards?

Thordarson’s Boathouse

The story of the island is quite interesting.  Cliff notes: Once privately owned by Chester H. Thordarson, an Icelandic-American inventor and then sold back to Wisconsin & made into a state park.

The buildings, including this boathouse, are now part of the Thordarson Estate Historic District which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can definitely see the Icelandic design influences in things like the runic writing above the fireplace.

This is a huge hall that could hold many people for a gathering.  Reminds me of something from Harry Potter or Skyrim.

Outside there is a covered shelter and large stone entrance sign.  Not much information at the park detailing what these are for but still very aesthetically pleasing.

Camp Setup

Time to setup camp for the night.  I booked site #11 which is a 1/2 mile hike from the ferry landing.  The hike is very easy taking Michigan Avenue from the entrance sign.

Before reaching the campsite on a spur trail you pass a small cemetary.  Here lies Mr. Thordarson & a handful of other early settlers.

Camp is located directly on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Some sites have direct access down to the beach but mine is blocked by thick brush that is impassable.  Grounds here are almost perfectly flat and soft – super easy to pitch any tent.

Time Travel? Algonquin Nature Trail

On the morning of 7/10 before leaving the island I briefly hiked part of the Algonquin Nature Trail.  Since I’m not planning a post for that day I’m including it here as there’s no other logical place to put it.

The path cuts across the other main trails on the southern part of the island and is minimally maintained.  Doesn’t appear the grass has been cut for some time and much is covered in spider webs that didn’t spring up overnight.

At some point through this path I broke off and headed back to the docks via an unnamed maintenance road.

Back on the ferry headed to Washington Island.  Spotted a few large pelicans in the distance which is neat considering they aren’t found many places in Wisconsin.  From here I made the long but easy drive back home.

Hiking Data

From the docks to campsite #11 is just over 0.5 miles.  Path is very easy until you reach the shoreline where it turns to sand which will slow you down a bit.

Algonquin Nature Trail partial loop.  I bailed because there were just too many spiderwebs and not really much to see here.

Lat = 45.4155426 , Long = -86.8180542 -- Show at Google Maps

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