Newport State Park - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Although this park doesn't have some of the more dramatic scenery of other areas in Door County, it is a good place to escape the crowds. Campsites must be accessed by foot, bike, or boat, which makes this park a little quieter than others. The southern end of the park has some low rock shelves, while the northern section has more sand. Some paddlers use the northern end as a starting point for a trip farther north along the shore to Northport and then to Plum, Washington, and Rock Island. If you manage to get one of the good kayak sites, this is a great place to spend a weekend relaxing, and if not, a good place for a quiet day's paddle.
Trip Highlights: Good scenery, undeveloped and relatively quiet shoreline.
Trip Rating: Beginner. 4 miles: Newport Beach to Duck Bay, round-trip.
Intermediate: 8-mile trip from Europe Bay to Varney Point and back.
Advanced: Continue on to Washington, Rock Islands (see Rte. 48).
Trip Duration: Part day to multiday.
Navigation Aids: USGS: Spider Island and Washington Island SW at 1:24,000
Cautions: Exposed shoreline, some sections of rocky cliffs with no landing and possible reflection waves, poison ivy in the woods.
Trip Planning: If you are planning on doing a day trip, you only need to pick a nice day to paddle. If you want to camp at the park, make sure to reserve a site as soon as possible. The park is booked through Labor Day and on fall weekends, too. Ask the park staff for a copy of the list of campsites, which has a brief description of the type of shoreline at each site (cobble, sand, rock) to help you choose. Most of the sites at the southern end of the park (5-13) are located on shoreline consisting of a 2-4-foot-high rock shelf and are not easily accessible to kayakers. Sites 1-4 and 16 have sand or gravel beaches at or near the campsites, and sites 14 and 15 are located on the inland Europe Lake.
Launch Site: There are three parking lots in the park, and parking for each campsite is assigned to a certain lot. Ask the park staff which lot you should park in. Unfortunately, the two lots on Newport Bay are some distance (300-400 yards) from the water. Europe Bay offers the easiest launch site for paddlers, and it should be used by those doing a day trip. To get to Newport State Park, take County Road NP from Highway 42 (the turnoff is located just north of Ellison Bay). To go to the main park entrance (you will need to do this to purchase a day-use permit if you don't have one), continue on NP, which ends at the park gate 2.5 miles from Highway 42. To get to the Europe Bay Beach, take NP from the park gate 0.3 miles west, then turn north onto Timberline Road. Continue 1.1 miles north, then turn east onto Europe Bay Road. Stay on the road for another 1.1 miles to the beach parking lot (the park map, available at the gate or park office, will show these roads and parking lots, so pick one up when you get your permit).
Launch from Europe Bay and paddle south. Europe Bay is a long beach, and in southerly winds it may have a slight current moving north along the shore.
The shoreline becomes rocky; shoals extend out from the shore. Lynd Point has two forks, and between the forks is a very small gravel beach that is probably the best access to the two campsites on the point. Caution: In a southerly wind, there may be some reflection waves around the point.
As the shoreline turns briefly west, the shore once again becomes sandy, and you are now in Newport Bay.
Pass small rocky point and find Sand Cove just beyond.
Between Sand Cove and Duck Bay, the shoreline is rocky, the water shallow, and shoals extend a long way out from shore. If conditions are not calm you may have to go some distance out to get around waves breaking on the shoals. Duck Bay is the last sandy bay in the southern part of the park, so if you are looking for a soft landing, take a rest here.
The shoreline becomes rocky with a few scattered cobble beaches near the point, followed by a very shallow and swampy bay.
Continue west beyond Varney Point if you like, but the scenery is fairly uninteresting west of here.
miles 5.5 to 8.0:
Return to Europe Bay.
Where to Eat & Where to Stay
Restaurants & Lodging:
Ellison Bay and Sister Bay have plenty of dining and lodging. Call the Door County Chamber of Commerce at (800) 527-3529 for more information.
Camping: If no campsites are available in the park, try one of the private RV/tent campgrounds in Door County. Call the Door County Chamber of Commerce for a list.
Excerpted from Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior & Michigan: The Best Day Trips and Tours by William Newmanm et. al. with permission from Falcon Publishing.
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