By Tom Jordan
Last fall I was taking one of my daily walks through the park with my little Yorkie, Coco. She loves the trails. As we were rounding a corner on the Yellow Trail I looked back and spotted a small, lone Birch tree among the forest of pines. The leaves were brilliant yellow. It appeared defiant, brave and anxious to stand out from the crowd. I snapped a quick picture, posted it on Facebook, and forgot about it. The next day I was amazed to discover it had over two thousand shares. Not likes…shares. Just like that image spoke to me, it spoke to so many others, for so many reasons. Loneliness. Isolation. Fortitude. It seemed to represent so many different feelings.
But that’s the reason I love exploring Whitefish Dunes State Park. On any day there is something new to discover on this 867-acre treasure because the park has so much variety, including deep wooded forests, large meadows, a fast moving stream, an expansive sand beach on Lake Michigan and the largest sand dune this side of Lake Michigan… Old Baldy.
Like so many other good things in Door County, the roots for making this a park started with conservationists, including Jens Jensen, back in the 1930’s. But the roots of this area go back. Way back to 100 B.C. which was discovered to be the earliest evidence of occupation. In total, eight different settlements have been discovered from the earliest, up to the latest in the late 1800s. To capture a feeling for some of the early settlers, near the nature center you’ll find a unique replica of an Indian village.
Door County is blessed with five state parks. Peninsula Park is considered the best known. Rock Island is the most remote. But Whitefish Dunes is the Goldilocks, not too big, not too small, in so many ways, just right.
This past summer my wife and I joined Charlotte Lukes and a small group for a hike on the trails looking for mushrooms. It’s amazing how you can walk right past something and not see anything. But a trained eye like Charlotte’s seldom misses a mushroom.
This past summer Whitefish Dunes State Park celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
And since our state has drastically cut funding for our state parks, a donation to the Friends of Whitefish Dunes Inc. could help ensure that this treasure will be here for all to enjoy for many years to come.
Whitefish Dunes State Park. One of my favorite “Secret Treasures” in Door County.