Big Bay State Park is on Madeline Island, the largest of Lake Superior's 22 Apostle Islands. The 2,350-acre park has a 1.5-mile beach, campground with drinking water, showers and toilets, an outdoor group camp, picnic areas and more than seven miles of hiking and nature trails with incredible views of Lake Superior.
Activities and recreation
The 2,350-acre park has a 1.5-mile beach, campground, picnic areas and more than seven miles of hiking and nature trails. Bayfield and Madeline Island also offer bus tours, golfing, art galleries, marinas and the old La Pointe Indian Burial Grounds - Ojibway (Chippewa) Indians were the original inhabitants of the area.
There are seven miles of hiking trails at Big Bay State Park that wind through varied habitat, some of which is detailed through interpretive signage. Bikes are not allowed on any of the trails or boardwalks. Dog sleds are allowed only with a written permit from the park manager. Bird watchers are intrigued with the island park. A list of 240 species of birds seen in the park is available at the office. There's a wildlife observation deck along the east shore of the lagoon.
There are 15 sites that have electrical hookups. Showers and flush toilets are centrally located in the campground. Pet owners are reminded that pets must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet and attended to at all times while visiting the park.
Seven sites are walk-in sites, these sites are about 100 to 400 feet from the parking area depending on the site.
Campers must set up camping units (tent or screenhouse), on the designated tent pad. Wheeled campers and vehicles must be parked on the campsite driveway/spur road. Please help us to preserve the campsites for others to use!
Outdoor group camps
Big Bay State Park has two outdoor group camps. The group sites are about a half mile from the regular campground and have a modest view of Lake Superior. Sites have their own hand pump and vault toilet.
The 1.5-mile beach is a great place to bask in the sun. The Lake Superior reputation for cold water is challenged every summer by the delighted waders and swimmers using the beautiful mile-and-a-half long sand beach at Big Bay. A beach wheelchair is available for people with disabilities. Pets and fires are prohibited on the Big Bay State Park beach.
Boating, canoeing and kayaking
The park does not have a boat launch. Many visitors bring canoes and kayaks to the park and carry them to the beach. From the beach visitors can paddle around the bay and the lagoon or explore the sea caves around the point. Big Bay State Park is part of the Lake Superior Water Trail. A private vendor has kayaks for rent at the town park.
The day use area is equipped with picnic tables, grills, drinking water and rest rooms.
Anglers can catch northern pike in the park's lagoon and several species of trout in Lake Superior.
Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties.
Big Bay State Park has limited plowed access from Nov. 1 to April 1. The parking lot at the office and shop are plowed regularly, but visitors should be prepared to hike in snow from those locations. Snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing are allowed in the park. Trails are multi-use, and are not groomed.
During winter, ferry service from Bayfield is available until the ferry is unable to break the ice on the lake. When ferry service is no longer available, an ice road or wind-sleds and passenger vans may be available to Madeline Island.