Jill J.J. Jorgenson Memorial Park
Jill J.J. Jorgenson Memorial Park is located on the Island’s north side, in memory of Island resident Jill Jorgenson who passed away in 2020. Jill loved the Island and loved to come to this secluded, wooded spot to look out at the northern waters of Washington Harbor. On a clear day you can see Rock Island to the east and St Martin’s Island to the north. If it is really clear, you can see the mainland of Northern Michigan! The border between Central and Eastern time zones is very near, so you may notice the time on your phone changing back and forth during your visit. The trail to the lookout area is steep, without rails, so please hike at your own risk. This small park is the perfect spot for a quiet picnic in the woods, or a place to sit and reflect at sunrise or sunset. Please do not walk beyond the marked park signs, as this is private property. There are no restrooms.
Little Lake is Washington Island’s only inland lake. Located just feet off Lake Michigan on the Island’s northwest side, this 33-acre landlocked lake was created thousands of years ago. Fed primarily by underwater springs and surface runoff, the level of Little Lake is three feet above that of Lake Michigan. There is pier access to Little Lake at the end of Little Lake Road. If you sit quietly on the pier you might just see minnows swimming, dragonflies buzzing or a painted turtle or snake sunbathing on a log.
While you are at Little Lake, stop in at Jacobsen Museum. The museum is a small, two-room cabin built by Danish immigrant, Jens Jacobsen. Relics of the past were of great interest to Jens, who created a sizable collection of artifacts from the Potawatomi Indians who called Washington Island and Little Lake home for thousands of years. Jens was also a skilled carpenter and built 14 Danish style vertical log cabins with furniture, on his property at Little Lake. You can see one of them near the path to the lake. Jens opened Jacobsen Museum in 1931 to showcase his lifelong collection of artifacts and scrollwork carvings. Over the years, other interesting Island pieces have been added such as an eclectic collection of shipwreck artifacts. Pit toilet public restrooms are located across from the museum.
The world famous economist Thorstein Veblen spent a good deal of time on Washington Island and bought property on Little Lake. He built a home for his family and study cabin for his writing. The study cabin is located near the Jen Jacobson Museum and is being restored to its 1926 condition when Veblen last worked there.
Little Lake Nature Preserve is part of the Door County Land Trust and encompasses the entire northern half of the lake, including over 5,000 feet of shoreline. The preserve provides habitat for many birds and amphibians. Access to a hiking trail in the preserve is off of Main Road. The trails will lead you to a lovely spot where you can view Little Lake on one side and Lake Michigan on the other. You cannot get to the Jacobsen Museum and pier from this trail.
School house beach
School House Beach is located on the south end of Washington Harbor, on the north side of Washington Island. You will not find any sand at this beach – It is just one of a few small, smooth limestone beaches in the world. The water is deep, clear, cold and clean making it excellent for swimming, but bring your swimming shoes because footing is unstable and it can be difficult to get in and out! The swimming area is marked with buoys and there is a diving raft, but swim at your own risk. The water goes from shallow to deep quickly, the water is cold and there are NO lifeguards on duty. Paddle boards, kayaks and canoes are not permitted inside the swimming area. They may be launched at either end of the beach.
Schoolhouse Beach is a perfect setting for photographs but throwing or skipping rocks is strongly discouraged due to how busy the beach and swimming area get. Do not throw rocks at the raft or buoys as they cause damage and require off-season repairs. Please also do not take your favorite rock as a souvenir, the Town cannot make new rocks! Historic glaciers millions of years ago battered the stones on the beach into the smooth, flat surfaces they are today. The town asks that you support beach preservation and leave the rocks at the beach. A $250 fine per rock taken, helps reinforce a preservation message.
The park has several picnic areas with tables and grills located at the edge of the woods. There are restrooms located near the park entrance with flushing toilets and running water. A pavilion with picnic tables can be used when it is not reserved for private parties. Contact the Town to reserve the pavilion.
The border between Central and Eastern time zones is very near the beach so you may notice the time on your phone changing back and forth during your visit. Cellular service is also very limited here so you may need to leave the park to use your phone. There is a landline phone at the park entrance that can be used for emergencies.
A special thanks to the Mann family for donating the swimming raft in memory of their son, Jason.
People’s Park is a small park with a huge view and a favorite spot to watch the sunset. The park is located on the northwest side of the island and overlooks Green Bay waters from the top of a high bluff. There is no water access from this park. Enjoy a picnic or beverages while watching the sunset. The park is equipped with a few picnic tables and a fire pit and grill. Please bring enough water to extinguísh your fire. The park has a fence at the edge of the bluff for safety reasons and climbing over the fence is prohibited. There are no public restrooms at People’s Park but you can use the ones located right down the road by Jacobsen’s Museum at Little Lake.
Percy JOhnson Park
Percy Johnson County Park is located on the east side of the Island with a sandy beach looking over Lake Michigan. The shallow water makes it a nice spot for smaller children to play in the water. Please swim at your own risk. There are NO lifeguards on duty. This is also a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise. It's quiet and secluded. Many use this place for meditation and prayer. The park has picnic tables, charcoal grills and fire rings available for public use as well as pit toilet restrooms.
Gislason Beach is located on the southwest side of the Island and is home to a small, natural, ungroomed beach on Detroit Harbor, next to the Shipyard Marina. Detroit Harbor is a great place to kayak or paddle board. Swimming is permitted, but the water and bottom can be murky depending on the day. Sit in one of the wooden swings and watch the sunset!
The Red Barn Park is across the street from the beach and has, picnic benches and a playground for kids. The Red Barn offers summer events like family pajama storytime and live musicians and theatrical performances. There is also a marked hiking trail that starts behind the Red Barn for nature lovers to enjoy. A water bottle filling station and pit toilet restrooms can be found next to the Red Barn.
Jackson Harbor Ridges
Jackson Harbor Ridges is located on the northeast side of the Island. It’s 9 acres and contains several coastal plant communities and a beautiful natural area full of rare and uncommon plants. The entrance to Jackson Harbor is a sand spit that attracts many birds and waterfowl. The land varies from areas of wet sand and grasses to dry dirt trails, bushes and trees. Depending on the water level, the beach area and shallow waters can be a lovely spot for young children to splash and play. Jackson Harbor Ridges was designated a State Natural Area in 1973.
Just down the road from the Ridges, visitors can learn a little about the Island's maritime and fishing history at the Jackson Harbor Maritime Museum. This little museum consists of refurbished former fishing village buildings, artifacts from commercial fishing past and photographs and videos on local maritime history. Coast Guard, Ferryline and area shipwreck displays are also featured.
Photo: Joshua Mayer
Washington Island ballpark
The Washington Island Ballpark is home to The Islanders baseball team. The Islanders are part of Door County League Baseball and play games on Sunday afternoons from May through August at 1:30 pm. Check-out the DCLB Facebook page for more information and the current season schedule.
In the summer, the ballpark is also home to Little League baseball and a wonderful July 4th fireworks display. Bring your family, friends, lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the show that starts after the sun goes down. In the winter, the Lions Club and Fire Department set up an ice rink and supply ice and hockey skates for the Island community to enjoy.
Photo: Brett Kosmider/Door County Pulse
Sand Dunes Park
Sand Dunes Park is home to a beautiful white sand dune beach, on the Island’s southwest shoreline. Plan on a brief, up-hill walk to get to the top of the main dune. The beach is great for picnics, making sandcastles, relaxing on a towel and swimming in Lake Michigan. The water is shallow near the beach and gradually gets deeper as you walk out. Swim at your own risk, there are NO lifeguards on duty. In the winter, the Sand Dunes are an excellent spot to go sledding. There are pit toilet restrooms at the park entrance.
The Heritage Trail runs parallel to Lobdell Point Road and features large yellow birch trees, woodland birds and wildflowers. The Heritage Trail connects to the Detroit Harbor Trail and Nature Preserve. A field guide for the trail and birding checklists are available in the island Welcome Center near the ferry dock.
Do not park near the Land Trust sign for Detroit Harbor on Lobdell Point Road. This area is heavily overgrown and better suited to hunting. Park on Henning Road, off Lobdell Point Road, to access the Heritage Nature Trail directly or start on the Richter Community Forest Trail on Green Bay Road, for a longer walk.
Bring bug spray and wear long pants since part of the trail involves hiking through tall grasses and over a few fallen trees. Wood chips line the majority of the path.
The tower is temporarily closed due to structural concerns. Repairs are planned for 2022.
When the tower is open, visitors can look out over the northeast corner of Washington Island and see Rock Island State Park in the distance and the beginning of the Grand Traverse Islands, which stretches all the way up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The town began construction on the Mountain Tower in 1968, and, without room for a crane or electricity lines, builders carried the logs for the tower on their shoulders! But town residents didn’t stop with just a tower. In 1989, a group of volunteers built a staircase leading up the steep, rocky hill to the base of the tower, clocking in a total of 186 steps and a great way to get a good step workout!