In the early spring, my husband and I can’t wait to break free of the stuffy house and get outside for a ramble in Northern Door County’s woods and meadows. On Saturday mornings, we dress in layers, lace up waterproof boots and optimistically don sunglasses. We jump in our truck and, as we back out of our driveway, ask each other: Where are we going today? If we have plenty of time, we drive north to Door Bluff Headlands County Park. The gravel road that leads through boreal forest back to the parking area is usually deserted. Occasionally we’ll join another car, but more often than not it’s just us. After parking, we pull on hats and gloves and pick carefully down a slope toward the more defined trail. The trail winds through cedar and arborvitae which part intermittently to give a view of Green Bay below. At one point, about a quarter mile down the trail, the trees open dramatically on a panorama of the water some 100 feet below. We pause to look without standing too close to the edge.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 27 minutes (17.3 miles)
After drinking in the sights, we carry on quietly, pausing to identify birds or glance at movement that could be a bald eagle. The trail curves inland and downhill, and the green of the arborvitae gives way to grey, tan and white of birches and maples. At our feet the trail is a little muddy in some places and still frozen in others. A mile or so in we decide we’re getting hungry, so we turn back and retrace our trail, enjoying how it looks different from another direction. Back at the car I declare I need a kouign amann, so we set off for Base Camp in Sister Bay.
Base Camp is owned and run by a Frenchman from the Brittany region. Though a francophile myself, I had never tasted kouign amann before setting foot in Base Camp. Kouign amann is sugar-dusted and muffin-shaped, but make no mistake, the pastry, pronounced “queen ah-MON,” is a princess among muffins. The traditional pastry is made with layers of thin flaky dough, which is liberally buttered and baked, then showered with cinnamon sugar. My husband and I order lattes and a kouign amann to share. It disappears in under a minute.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 13 minutes (9.7 miles)
When on a tighter schedule, we head to Three Springs Land Trust in Sister Bay. The small wooded and meadowed public land was once a farm which nature is slowly but surely returning to wild. One can wind through the remains of apple orchards and wander down beside Three Springs Creek. Deer, birds and even porcupines are common sights on the Three Springs trails. There are two loops; the longest is just over a mile and a half.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 17 minutes (11.4 miles)
Back at the car, we start to salivate just thinking about our post-ramble snack. The Corsica loaf, the creation of Sister Bay’s Door County Bakery, beckons. This unique bread is baked in a profusion of olive oil, which seeps into its every pore. The fruity oil creates a crispy crust on the underside of the loaf and a tender consistency throughout. The bread only improves a meal of hot soup or can be eaten in generous chunks on its own. The bakery proffers other European-inspired delights, from pain au chocolat to croissants to decadently-filled peanut butter cookies. The deli case and cellar are definitely worth a browse for fine food items not found in most Door County grocery stores. The dining room is open year round and the patio is open in the fairer months, serving simple but delicious items from a small menu.
Tim and I chat with the barista as he makes our americanos, and we watch in anticipation as the baker slices a Corsica loaf fresh from the oven, steam rising from each slice. We sit at the coffee bar with our bread and warm drinks and tear off chunks of the loaf, munching in satisfied silence.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 8 minutes (6.6 miles)
On sunny fall or winter days, the White Cliff Nature Preserve is worth a visit for a leisurely 1.5-mile walk. The trail loop explores wetlands, the Niagara Escarpment and mature forest. Located just north of Egg Harbor and across the road from Green Bay, the air has the crisp feel of being near the water. Tim and I soak in the good vibes from thick tall stands of oak, beech and maple trees. We walk quietly so as to catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer or a pileated woodpecker flitting among the trees.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 16 minutes (9 miles)
After a short walk, we can’t resist stopping at MacReady’s Artisan Bread in Egg Harbor. The bakery is set slightly back from Highway 42, but I can smell the freshly baked loaves as I stroll up the sidewalk. I open the glass door, and the odor and a slight haze envelop me. The open-concept shop allows patrons to see straight back to the bread racks, where brand new yeasty creations patiently cool. The bakery case is packed with some grainy breads, like Sunflower Flaxseed and Hungry Hippie Bread, as well as more indulgent breads, like Cinnamon Raisin and Bagel Bread. I order some sandwiches to go and fix myself a steamy cup of coffee while I wait.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 13 minutes (9 miles)
Whether you’re in Northern Door County to get fresh air or fresh bread, the options are many. After a day of exploring forest and flour, dream of the next day’s adventures in a four-poster bed at the Blacksmith Inn on the Shore. Check our availability here.