Being avid travelers to the US National Park sites in addition to being loving dog owners, we were excited when we found out that unlike most US National Park System designations, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is actually rather dog friendly. Everything’s better with your dog, including vacation. Being able to bring your dog on vacation with you is vital to helping you unwind and relax while visiting a new place. We spent an extended weekend in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with our pup Gordie and were so happy to find so many dog friendly activities to do with him while there. Here is our guide on Dog Friendly Activities in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area.
FYI This post is written based on a trip taken in Mid-August.
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Hike the Meyers Beach Sea Caves Trail with your Dog
Our top dog friendly recommendation for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is to hike the Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail. We loved hiking this trail with our pup! Unlike most trails at other National Lakeshores, such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you can hike here with your dog. Our dog loves a good hike so he was in heaven.
The Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail leads you to Lake Superior’s waterfront cliffs where you can see some of the Apostle Islands sea caves and Lake Superior from above. This trail goes through the woods and is mainly shaded (we love a shaded trail) until you reach the sea caves at 1.8 miles.
At 1.8 miles, you reach the Crevasse, an impressive 100-yard-long fracture in the rocks. We actually got to Kayak into this sea cave on our kayak tour of the lakeshore (see all the detailed about sea kayaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in our What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Unfortunately, sea kayaking is not dog friendly, hence why it did not make it into this guide).
You can continue on the trail for more sea cave views until the 2.2 mile point but after that, the trail only leads to some remote campsite through the woods and there are no further views of the sea caves.
Not too hard of a hike for your or your pup
We did this hike with Natalie’s parents and our dog. It was a really nice hike as it was not overly strenuous and had some great views of the sea caves without kayaking. Natalie’s parents, who do not do much hiking at all, felt it to be very manageable for beginners. They also were not disappointed with the views. On the hike back from the sea caves, Natalie’s Dad was sure to tell each hiker we passed about the cool views. It was adorable.
Caution: Be careful as the edges along the trail may be undercut/slippery. You don’t want you or your pup to fall into the water from the trail. It’s not a short fall!
4.6 miles round trip, 269 feet of elevation gain, out & back
Cost: $5 fee to park (cannot use America the Beautiful Pass)
Hike Lost Creek Falls with your Dog
Our next top dog friendly activity for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is to hike Lost Creek Falls. Our pup loved, and we mean LOVED, hiking this trail. This trail brings you through a peaceful wooded setting to a more impressive than we expected waterfall and small pool area. Our dog LOVED running through the pools of water around the waterfall at the ‘summit’ of this hike. He was really living his best life zooming back and forth.
The trail is well-maintained with some boardwalks. We did this hike in the morning and had the waterfall/pool area all to ourselves. It was so pretty and serene!
2.2 Miles, 216 feet of elevation gain, out & back
Cost: Free to park
Tip: Bring good bug spray and tick wipes for your dog.
The bugs were actually not bad at all during our trip (we all got less than 3 mosquito bites on our 5 day trip) and found no ticks on our dog while there. However, this very wooded trail with water at the end is typically notorious for both. We think our bug spray and tick wipes helped prevent us having an issue here. These are the tick wipes we use with our dog. This is the non-chemical bug spray we use with our daughter. This is the deet bug spray we use on ourselves.
Take the Madeline Island Ferry with your Dog
Our third dog friendly activity recommendation for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is visiting Madeline Island/taking the ferry to Madeline Island. Again, our dog was living his best life on the ferry to the island and on the island itself. The pictures speak for themselves.
Fun Fact: Madeline Island is the largest and most developed of the 22 Apostle Islands. It is well known for its beaches and hiking trails/biking trails. It also has some eclectic shops and restaurants.
Dog Friendly Madeline Island Ferry
The journey to Madeline Island with your dog is half the fun. To access this island, you take the Madeline Island Ferry from Downtown Bayfield. This ferry ride offers scenic views of Lake Superior, Bayfield, Madeline Island and some other of the Apostle Islands in the distance. And you can soak in all these views with your pup as the ferry is dog friendly.
Cost: $17 per person round-trip, $30 per car round-tip. Dogs ride for free. The ferry is a bit pricey but again, part of the experience. See the Madeline Island Ferry Rates for the most up-to-date prices. If you are interested in more ferry ride experiences, see our, coming soon ***, Two-Week Fjords of Norway Road Trip.
Also, unless it is an extraordinarily busy weekend, you typically do not need to book this ferry in advance. Just arrive about 15-20 before the time you would like to depart and you should have no problem getting on the ferry you want. See the Madeline Island Ferry Schedule for the most up-to-date times.
Dog Friendly Madeline Island
On Madeline Island, explore the downtown area with your pup. A particularly good spot to visit is the Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar at the Inn on Madeline Island as they will serve dog treats while you dine on the patio. You also can go hiking on some of the trails in the area. However, note that, unfortunately, not all the trails in the parks on Madeline Island are dog friendly. The casper trail (1.2 miles one-way) near downtown is dog friendly though so be sure to check that one out! See the map below for all the Madeline Island trails.
Explore Cornucopia with your Pup
Our next dog friendly Apostle Islands area recommendation is visiting the small artsy and eclectic town of Cornucopia. Cornucopia is located not far from Meyers Beach and the sea caves hike. There are several small boutique and resale shops in this town as well as a few restaurants on the main street, many being dog friendly. The harbor area is very picturesque here too.
For a dog friendly dining experience in Cornucopia, try eating at the Fat Radish Restaurant. This restaurant is known for its tasty farm-to-table dishes and is of course dog friendly. Note: this restaurant has limited evening hours (Wed-Sun) and brunch hours (Sun only).
We actually visited Cornucopia during Cornucopia days (mid August) and there was also a flea market and fundraiser food sale going on. Our pup was welcome here too.
Explore Downtown Bayfield with your Dog
Bayfield is a charming small-town on the largest Great Lake. This town is very walkable with many cute small shops and restaurants, many that are also dog friendly. Bayfield reminded us of the shops and restaurants in the small towns in Door County. Plan to spend a morning or an afternoon here. Here is a list of dog friendly spots to eat and shop in Bayfield:
- Big Water Coffee Roasters
- Big Water’s Bakery (get ther Rhubarb Ginger Scone!)
- Greunke’s First Street Inn & Dining
- Portside Bar & Restaurant
- Pier Plaza Restaurant & Lounge
Where to Stay near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with your Dog
We highly recommend staying at Mission Springs Resort while visiting the Apostle Islands area with your dog. We stayed here and had a great extended weekend with our pup and family. This resort, located right on Lake Superior, offers you superb lake views while also offering plenty of outdoor areas for your pup to explore. We loved walking down to the lake in the morning with our pup at our side and a hot beverage in our hands. Mission Springs Resort truly offers you a serene place to unwind and have a great time with your family, including your dog, around the campfire. For more details on staying here, see our Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore post.
Call or text Katie at 715-209-8321 for availability or visit the Mission Springs Resort website for the best price and most up to date availability. Katie is a great resource while visiting the area and during your stay as well. She is a fantastic host, allowing you your space yet is available for any questions!
If Mission Springs Resort is fully booked, some other places to stay with your dog in Apostles Islands include the Inn on Madeline Island and this Bayfield Condo. There are also campsites on the mainland/islands that allow dogs.
We hope this guide helps you plan your dog friendly trip to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
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