Great Alternatives to Bayfield Ice Caves

The Apostle Islands Mainland Ice Caves have been visited by over 150,000 visitors in 2014 and 2015, a spectacular Wisconsin attraction. However, the weather does not always cooperate (either too mild or too windy for the ice to freeze properly) so the ice caves are not accessible every year. The National Park Service determines whether the ice on Lake Superior is safe enough for people to hike to the ice caves. Even if the ice caves are not accessible, Bayfield, WI still offers some great alternatives to Bayfield Ice Caves.

Pinehurst Inn’s Top 3 Great Alternatives to Bayfield Ice Caves

  1. Meyer’s Beach Trail

This trail is on the land, meandering above the Mainland Ice Caves. It is located about 17 miles northeast of Bayfield. Hike this rugged trail on land that is inland and above the sandstone bluffs that hold the ice caves. There are a couple of viewpoints along the trail that allow you to see many of the ice formations, mostly at a distance, and the views across the Lake are quite dramatic. The trail is about four miles long. It is an “out and back” trail so one can turn around and head back to the car at any point.

Directions: Meyer’s Beach is about a 25-minute drive from Pinehurst Inn. Follow Highway 13 north out of Bayfield and west across the Bayfield Peninsula. Turn right onto Meyer’s Beach Road. The trailhead is at the parking lot.

  1. Big Bay State Park – Madeline Island

Many of our guests in past years lucky enough to see the Mainland Ice Caves when visiting also went out to Madeline Island to visit Big Bay State Park. More than a few enjoyed Big Bay as much as, if not more than, the Ice Caves! There are far fewer people and the picturesque rock and ice formations are spectacular. The best formations are along the south side of Big Bay and Big Bay Point.

Just getting out to the Island can be equally as fun! If the ice is thick enough between Bayfield and the island you can drive your car across the ice road and go right out to the Park. If it is still open water or very thin ice the ferry will still be running and you can travel to the island by Madeline Island Ferry Line.

Directions: The ferry dock and the ice road both leave from downtown Bayfield and are very easy to find. Big Bay State Park is approximately 7 miles from the town of La Point on Madeline Island so a car is needed.

  1. Houghton Falls Natural Area

This a real hidden gem in the Bayfield area, located 6.5 miles south of Pinehurst Inn just off of Hwy 13 on Houghton Falls Road. The 76-acre Houghton Falls Natural Area is a landmark along the Lake Superior shore. The 2-mile round trip trail leads you to the dramatic sandstone cliffs extending into the clear waters of Lake Superior, affording breathtaking views of the a number of the Apostle Islands. A stream meanders through hemlock, cedar, spruce, tamarack, birch, and maple, cascading over the exposed sandstone before descending over 60 feet into a rippled sandy cove at Lake Superior. Upstream (and also on the property) is Echo Dells, a series of water-carved rock cliffs and caves interspersed with small waterfalls and a forested footpath that ends at Houghton Point overlooking Lake Superior. In the winter, there are ice formations along the trail and at the Point.

Directions: Houghton Falls Rd is 6.5 miles south of Pinehurst Inn. Turn left (east) on Houghton Falls Rd. The well-marked trail parking area is approx. 1.5 miles.

Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast is the perfect home-base for your Bayfield winter adventure!

Main House on snow covered lot with towering green pine trees and deep blue sky

Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast specializes in matching our area attractions to our guests specific interests. Whether it is hiking, snowshoeing or museums, we can help make your getaway dreams your reality. This over-the-top concierge service combines with eco-friendly lodging making your Bayfield stay a 5-star experience. Explore our rooms and check our availability.

For more information on your vacation opportunities, click here.

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