A Taste of the Apostle Islands with Beth Dooley
Explore the Apostle Islands on this Foodie Locavore Feast
Discover the Bayfield Peninsula’s astounding beauty and bounty with cookbook author and local food expert Beth Dooley. Days are devoted to paddling to sea caves, hiking trails to waterfalls, and enjoying Lake Superior’s sandy beaches. Prepare yourself for mouth-watering feasts fashioned from local and organic ingredients, capped off with wine and beer. Beth Dooley, local food enthusiast and author of the recently published Minnesota’s Bounty and The Northern Heartland Kitchen, sources and prepares the best that Bayfield has to offer. Tour organic farms, pick berries, and meet some of the area farmers who are doing amazing things with food, like growing apricots in northern Wisconsin!
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: Your trip starts in early afternoon at Wilderness Inquiry's beautiful Little Sand Bay Base Camp. We'll participate in a sea kayak orientation and begin to explore this area's beauty. In the evening, we'll fashion a dinner of artisan cheeses, smoked lake fish, grilled farmstead meat, farm fresh vegetables, local grains and just picked berries. Artisan cheese makers and local growers who can share stories of their life on the land may join us.
DAY 2: Wake to the scent of strong coffee and dig into a hearty breakfast of farmstead bacon, steel cut oatmeal, yogurt, fresh berries and local jams and honey. Depending on weather and the direction of the wind, options for the day include paddling out to explore the skeleton of the famous Fedora shipwreck near Buffalo Bay or paddling to the Mawikwe Bay Sea Caves. In the evening, we'll head to the beach for a shore dinner including; Lake Superior whitefish, pan-fried over an open fire, wild rice, and fresh salads. Our friend Nick, a local guide and ricer, will share Native American legends as we enjoy s’mores over a beach fire.
DAY 3: Who can resist the scent of sizzling sausage and griddling pancakes? We’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast before paddling out to Sand Island to explore the Swallow Point Sea Caves. After a picnic lunch of local sausages, farmstead cheeses and brick oven breads on a sandy beach, we’ll paddle onward to the historic lighthouse. Our last night’s dinner is a sumptuous Wisconsin barbecue, capped by picking fresh berries at an organic orchard for dessert.
DAY 4: Enjoy morning coffee, take a short hike to "School Bus Rock" and enjoy a delicious brunch of farm-to-table bacon, fresh eggs, sheep or goat yogurt, homemade jams and local pastries. Say goodbye to your new friends and head home by noon.
Note On Weather: Sea kayaking is incredibly weather dependent. In the chance of high winds or heavy rains you may enjoy various mainland hikes or other local activities in replace of kayaking.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE: The terrain and landscape of the Apostle Islands is made up of red sandstone, covered with a mixed forest of birch, pine, oak, and maple. Except for a few cliffs, the terrain is gentle and rolling. Most of your time is spent along the beaches and shorelines of the Apostle Islands National Lake Shore, kayaking to the shipwrecks and the sea caves. We have several routes to choose from, each revealing a different dimension of this archipelago. Wind and weather largely determine the route, and storms may delay paddling.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: No previous sea kayaking experience is needed to complete this trip. You will travel in sea kayaks which hold 2 or 3 people plus all necessary gear. An average day's travel consists of 2-6 paddling and/or hiking hours, depending on weather conditions. Travel distances vary from 4-6 miles each day. On some days, we will travel by van or car to local farms.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 45 F to 85 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least one day of rain. Weather in the area is strongly influenced by Lake Superior and can change suddenly.
ACCOMMODATIONS: You will enjoy your stay at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp. At night you will sleep in comfortable platform-based tents. Typically, there are 2-3 people per 4-person tent (other arrangements can be made). Our Little Sand Bay Base Camp has very nice outdoor bathrooms and shower facilities with hot water.
MEALS: Since the focus of this trip is local foods, you will enjoy a variety of treats grown, prepared, or distilled in the area. We’ll prepare meals ourselves, with the guidance of Beth Dooley, at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp. Count on hearty breakfasts, picnic trail lunches, and lively dinners. We’ll enjoy happy hours together at Base Camp after the day’s outdoor activities.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 6 to 18 participants, plus 3 or more Wilderness Inquiry guides. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items. Also, looking into gear rental options can be a cost effective option.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The Apostle Islands on the South Shore of Lake Superior and the Bayfield Peninsula are an enticing mix of rolling hills, sandstone cliffs, sand beaches and a 22 island archipelago covered with a beautiful mix of northern hardwood and boreal forest plants and trees and laced with streams, waterfalls, and wetlands.
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore lies in the northwestern Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. The town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, is the jumping off point for your adventure in the Apostles.
The unique geological features, rich cultural heritage, and diverse ecological system of the Apostle Islands have attracted visitors for centuries. One story says that early Jesuit missionaries, believing that there were only 12 islands in this 22-island archipelago, named the region after the twelve apostles in the Bible.
The history of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore predates these missionaries by eons, however, as the region’s bedrock can be traced to Precambrian times. Nearly a billion years ago, sand and silt were deposited in this region via northwesterly flowing streams and rivers. Under the weight of additional layers, the sediment slowly compacted and began to bond together.
These layers eventually experienced tremendous pressure as the ice age began and glaciers thousands of feet thick covered the forming sedimentary rock. The cycle of advancing and receding glaciers continued to shape the Apostles landscape until 10,000 years ago when the last of the glaciers finally receded. Although the glacial activity formed much of what we see today, other dynamic processes continue as differential erosion alters the islands’ beautiful sandstone arches, pillars, and caves.
These geologic wonders are partly responsible for attracting the native inhabitants and present day visitors. The Anishinabe (also called Ojibwe, or Chippewa) were the most recent native people to inhabit the islands. Hunting, fishing, and maple sugaring provided food and supplies, and were eventually traded with the Europeans. During the mid-1800s the islands’ resources attracted European settlers and for 80 years these resources were seriously exploited. Brownstone was quarried and used to construct buildings and lighthouses, some of the forests were cleared and turned into farmlands, commercial fishing increased, and mills and mines were established.
By the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the islands’ natural resources were scarce. While unfortunate for the people of the United States, the Depression saved the archipelago as it all but stopped development of the islands.
Congress designated the Apostles as a National Lakeshore in 1970; in 2004, Congress further designated 80% of the Apostles as the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness, named after Wisconsin’s great conservationist and former Governor and U.S. Senator. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore encompasses 69,372 acres, of which 27,323 acres are submerged lands in Lake Superior. The National Lakeshore includes 21 of the 22 islands in the archipelago, plus a 12-mile-long narrow strip of mainland shoreline. The islands range in size from Stockton Island at 10, 054 acres to the tiny 3-acre Gull Island.
Visitors can find a variety of scenic features on the islands. These include pristine stretches of sand beaches and coves; spectacular sea caves; some of the largest stands of remnant old-growth forests in the upper Midwest; a diverse population of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish; and the largest collection of national register lighthouses and lighthouse complexes in the entire national park system.
Today, the National Park Service manages the Apostles Islands. The rare combination of remote but accessible scenery, geography, and both open and protected waters affords unparalleled freshwater sailing, boating, sea kayaking, and fishing opportunities. Ecological succession has returned this system to a natural balance and visitors enjoy abundant wildlife, heavily forested islands, beaches, and geologic wonders worthy of the Park Service’s protection.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the base camp like on the Apostle Islands trips?
We refer to our property as the Little Sand Bay Base Camp. The camp is approximately a half mile from the Lake Superior lake shore near Little Sand Bay in Northern Wisconsin. Our base camp offers camping at its most comfortable and accessible. All tents are large enough to stand upright, and are set up on comfortable wooden platforms. Hot showers, private bathrooms, a roofed pavilion space, and an indoor seating area for leisure time are other key features. The camp consists of 40 acres of woods with wood chip trails, 5 campsites, and a gear warehouse.
What are our transportation options for the Apostle Islands trip?
One option is to take your own vehicle and meet your group at Wilderness Inquiry's Little Sand Bay Base Camp. You can park your vehicle here for the duration of the trip. Another option is to use WI's van transportation, which typically leaves from WI headquarters in Minneapolis early in the morning on the first day of the trip and returns to Minneapolis the evening of the last trip day. There is an additional fee of $75 to use WI's roundtrip van transportation.
On which Apostle Islands trips do we camp on the islands?
The Apostle Islands Kayak Island Camping trip is the only trip where you actually set up camp and sleep on the islands. If you have a private group that would like to customize an island camping experience, we can likely accommodate. During all other Apostle Islands trips, participants stay at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp, located on the main land approximately 0.5 miles from the Lake Superior Shoreline. Kayak trips on Lake Superior are organized on most days, in which you will explore the sea caves and other highlights of the Apostle Islands area. All activities depend upon safe weather conditions.
Will I get to see the sea caves on my Apostle Islands trip?
The sea caves are the most popular feature of the Apostle Islands area - and with good reason! It is our intention to explore the caves by kayak at least once during every trip. This is dependent upon safe paddling conditions on Lake Superior, as safety is always our top priority. On a clear day, we should be able to paddle to the sea caves and even travel through the insides of the caves by kayak.
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Standard Meetings Places and Times
Start: Little Sand Bay Base Camp at 1:30 PM (local time)
End: Little Sand Bay Base Camp at 10:30 AM (local time)
This trip begins at 1:30 PM at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp, near Bayfield, WI, where parking is available. The trip ends at 10:30 AM at the same location. Van transportation between Minneapolis or Duluth and Little Sand Bay is typically not available. Detailed meeting place directions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a flight? We recommend flying in the night before your trip to Duluth or Minneapolis St. Paul airports, and flying out from Duluth after 2:30 PM and from Minneapolis St. Paul after 6:00 PM. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions.