After the 20-minute ferry ride from Bayfield, WI (read about our previous adventure here), we were ready to, ahem, disembark! Welcome to La Pointe, Madeline Island. Ella visiting from Chaska appointed herself town greeter on the green. Puppropriate, because Madeline Island is the kind of vacation spot your dog would dream up.
First, let’s set up camp–a Scamp trailer–at Big Bay Town Park (we’ll leave tent camping to the thicker-furred.). Franz, Enzo, and I don’t enjoy the cold, wet conditions that can occur any time of year around Lake Superior, so we advise packing extra layers. This not-quite-ruffing-it style fits my dogs. (Learn all our dog-tested tips for camping in the upcoming “Good Dog’s Guide to Happy Camping.”)
Big Bay Town Park is adjacent to Big Bay State Park. Both are great, but there’s a key difference: dogs are *not* allowed on Wisconsin State Park beaches. At the Town Park’s pawsitively gorgeous beach, pups are free to swim, chase waves, fetch (not a Doxie strong suit), and dig in the sand (very much a Doxie strong suit). Some dogs might even find relief from joint pain in the always-chilly water.
Ready for water adventures? Right on the beach, you’ll find a small black “honor” box next to Bog Lake Outfitter’s rack of canoes, paddles and life jackets. Put $20 in the box and enjoy a doggy paddle around the calm lagoon–pups’ll love hearing all the birds and critters.
Being major earth dogs, Franz and Enzo prefer land-based activities. Our favorite is the boardwalk from the town park to Big Bay State Park. It’s about 2 miles roundtrip with an easy and flat trail featuring spectacular views of Lake Superior the entire way.
Inside the state park, try the Bay View Trail. That’s where we met the happiest of hikers, Leo! It’s so important to follow the park leash rule: keep your pet on a leash no longer than 8 feet. This trail hugs a cliff and the steep drop-offs can be dangerous for curious pups–so if you like havin’ a dog, take this rule seriously.
Finish up by bellying up to the bar at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, which is legendary for its serious shipwrecked-on-an-island hippie vibes and So. Many. Dogs. Keep one dog-petting hand ready (the other on a “Burned Down ‘Rita”) and check out this sampling of the four-legged teetotallers you might meet there.
And just like that, it’s time to get back on the ferry to Bayfield. For man and man’s besties, time on Madeline Island goes way too fast.
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