Ice Caves? Top Ten Hints on enjoying an Icy Trek

Foreground frozen ice on lake with large brown-orange cliffs in backgroundWe are patiently awaiting news from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore office in Bayfield, WI – will the Mainland Ice Caves be deemed “accessible?” We certainly hope so! The overwhelming reaction in 2014 resulted in over 135,000 visitors in a 6 week period, the majority of which made the approximately 4 mile round trip trek out to the caves and back.

The good news is that there are alternative areas that also offer beautiful lakeside trekking. Whether Mainland Ice Caves are accessible or not, there are some hints /  suggestions we can make to ensure a safer and more pleasant experience exploring icy shorelines and lakeside trails. These hints apply to all lake-related trekking.

  1. Know where you are going and the nature of the trek (maps, research, area guides and your innkeepers can help!)
  2. Dress appropriately for the trek and the weather. Dress in layers! Wear a warm hat and have something available to cover your face.
  3. The right footwear is essential. This means knowing the nature of the area you are trekking (frozen lake ice? hilly or cliff shoreline trail?). We strongly recommend crampons over your boots and perhaps a ski / hiking pole.
  4. Take food and drink, including water. You’d be surprised how quickly you can become dehydrated.
  5. Have a cell phone with you in case of emergency.
  6. Ice formations are beautiful, but they are not meant for climbing. Please observe from a distance – both for your own safety and for the enjoyment of others.
  7. Whatever you carry out, be sure to bring back in. Keep in mind that everything that is left on the ice or a lakeside trail most likely will end up in the water – this is litter.
  8. Please consider leaving any dogs at home.
  9. Go slow and steady. Have fun. Enjoy the beauty. Observe this great lake.
  10. Come back to your lodging (such at Pinehurst Inn!) and relax by the fire or soak in Tiled corner in room with oval whirlpool tub and windowthe whirlpool tub. You’ve had a good day.

Pinehurst Inn Innkeepers are ready to assist in a variety of ways! The Bayfield and Apostle Islands area provide magnificent opportunities for winter treks. Bundle up and join us!

Ice Cave Photo credit:

Updated 2/26/15:

A wonderful piece that provides current overview of the conditions at Mainland Ice Caves::