Potawatomi State Park

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Located on Sturgeon Bay, Potawatomi State Park is a 1,225 acre Wisconsin state park that lies just northwest of the city. It stays open all year long and has many different activities you can be part of. Its terrain consists of rolling upland areas with steep slopes and limestone cliffs bordering the park. There is a 75-foot observation tower that overlooks the Sawyer Harbor. On a clear day, you will be able to see 16 miles across Green Bay. [1]

View Overlooking the bay
Potawatomi State Park Tower View. Source: Wisconsin Deparment of Natural Resources

History

One of the first white men who set foot into the area in 1634 was Jean Nicolet. Here he found the land taken by Woodland Indians of the Fox, Sauk, Chippewa, Menominee, Potawatomi and Winnebago tribes. Many of these tribes' populations began to decrease with more white immigrants arriving. The very populated limestone headland in the mouth of Sturgeon Bay became known as “Government Bluff,” which then lead to the Federal government making a rock quarry in 1834. But, it wasn’t until 1855 that the City of Sturgeon Bay was officially plotted and the business industry was built. Years later, in 1928, Potawatomi State Park was established and was named after the Potawatomi Native American tribe. Potawatomi State Park is the starting point to the Ice Age Trail, which was established in 1980. After the park was established, Potawatomi developed the winter sports recreation area in 1941, where some of the popular activities included downhill skiing, tobogganing, and ski jumping.[2]

Activities

Trails

One of the many unique features that Door County’s hiking and biking trails started was a new mapping technology. The Bureau has partnered up with the Trail Genius, which consists of digital mapping, to bring the trails to life on screens of all sizes. Door County is one of the first to take part in this technology. This Trail Genius allows visitors to virtually bike or hike their way through the trails before actually getting there. Another cool feature is the 360 views of the scenic intersections along the trails. This way visitors will to be able to see firsthand how the trails look before they even get there. [3] With the 1,225-acres that the park has to offer, there are two hiking trails, one self-guide trail, an off-road bike trail, and the starting point of the Ice Age Trail. [4] The Hemlock Trail and Tower Trail are two trails that cover the southern and northern parts of the park. These trails summed together are around six miles long. The off-road bike trail is about eight miles. In the winter, the park is open as well and offers eight and a half miles of a groomed and tracked skiing area and about an eight-mile path for snowmobiling. [5]

Boating

The park is located on Sturgeon Bay, which makes for a great opportunity to take advantage of all the different water activities. The park has a boat launch that goes into the Sawyer Harbor which leads to Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay.[6] The park also has a swimming beach where families are able to rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards to enjoy the sights on the bay.[7]

Observation Tower

This observation tower was built shortly after 1928, when the park was established; a story was carved into every wooden board and rail on the climb up. The Potawatomi Tower took seven weeks to build and is topped out at 75 feet tall, one foot shorter compared to the Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park. It was temporary closed in 2012 after a major crack was found in one of the main support beams, 22 feet tall. The repair took about two years, because the park needed to find a living white oak tree big enough to replace the current beam. [8]

Friends of Potawatomi State Park

Potawatomi State Park wants to get people to help and volunteer their time and ambition to help in maintaining and improving park programs, equipment, and keeping the park clean. Some of things the Friends Group has accomplished recently is planting flowers in campground and office flower beds, resurfacing playground areas with wood fiber, assisting park staff in maintaining ski trails, and more. Besides having the Friends Group program to help out the park, they also run a fundraiser, the Run Wild 5K and a quarter marathon. This attracts all ages with the help from the kids Smokey Bear run. This fundraiser helps to raise money for important projects at the park, and is held on Columbus Day weekend each year. [9]

RunWild
Every year on Christopher Columbus Day Potawatomi State Park holds one of their main fundraisers: Run Wild. Source: Friends of Potawatomi State Park

Campground Sites

The park's Daisy Field Campground has around 123 sites in a two-loop area along the shoreline. Twenty-five of these sites include electricity with showers on both the south and north ends of the loop. There are campsites available in both the winter and summer months and typically sell out very quickly. The park also has a cabin to accommodate people with disabilities which contains a stove, a microwave, a fridge, and air-conditioning.[10]

References

  1. "Potawatomi State Park, WI," Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, April 27, 2017, https://wisconsinstateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/potawatomi-state-park/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=WI&parkId=60036
  2. "Support Data," Potawatomi State Park Master Plan Concept Element, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Accessed April 27, 2017 http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/masterplanning/documents/MP-PR-PotawatomiSP-1987.pdf
  3. "Wisconsin Door County Uses Technology to Bring Nature Trails to Life," ProQuest, May 25, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1791159676?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
  4. Adam, "Potawatomi State Park-Wisconsin,"Get Out and Go Camping, June 20, 2010, http://www.getoutandgocamping.com/potawatomi-state-park-wisconsin/
  5. Olson, Justin, "Potawatomi State Park,"State Parks, Accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.stateparks.com/potawatomi_state_park_in_wisconsin.html
  6. Adam, "Potawatomi State Park-Wisconsin,"Get Out and Go Camping, June 20, 2010, http://www.getoutandgocamping.com/potawatomi-state-park-wisconsin/
  7. Olson, Justin, "Potawatomi State Park,"State Parks, Accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.stateparks.com/potawatomi_state_park_in_wisconsin.html
  8. Parr, Jackson, "Door County's Kind of Skyscrapers," Door County Pulse, September 4, 2015, https://doorcountypulse.com/door-countys-kind-of-skyscrapers/
  9. "Friends Group & Run Wild, 5K & 1/4 marathon," Friends of Potawatomi State Park, Accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.runwild.org
  10. Olson, Justin, "Potawatomi State Park,"State Parks, Accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.stateparks.com/potawatomi_state_park_in_wisconsin.html

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