Large, mature oak, beech and maple trees tower above the path as it twists and turns through the forest, at one point passing by an interpretive sign highlighting the trail’s namesake: a lone pine that now rests on the forest floor. Photo by Sara Rae Lancaster.
Last month, I wrote about the Minnehaha Trail in Peninsula State Park. It’s no secret of a trail, with its western terminus located inside the popular Nicolet Bay campground and a route that wraps along the shoreline before connecting with the Eagle Trail at its eastern terminus. But what might not be as well known is the trail’s surprisingly ideal terrain for beginning backpackers and hikers who want to break in their gear over a manageable distance.
That led me on a search for other secondary uses of the familiar trails within the park, and I found the Lone Pine Trail. You can pick it up from the western terminus of the Minnehaha Trail, traveling a short distance through the campground before meeting up with the trail again just before it crosses Shore Road. It is also accessible from the Connector Trail between the Nicolet Bay Trail and the Lone Pine Trail’s southern terminus.
What the Lone Pine Trail lacks in distance – at only a half mile long – it makes up for in versatility and diversity. For the purposes of hiking, it offers what might be considered the “next level” for hikers and backpackers who have adjusted to the feel and weight of their gear but want continued practice climbing hills with trekking poles, negotiating different types of terrain, or increasing their endurance.
The southern portion of the trail intersects with both the Sentinel Trail and the Connector Trail leading to Nicolet Bay. Photo by Sara Rae Lancaster.
From the Minnehaha Trail and after the Shore Road crossing, the Lone Pine Trail quickly ascends the first of two switchbacks: a rather steep, craggy switchback and a series of rocky steps.
If you’re hiking with trekking poles, you’ll want to do a quick form check, making sure you’re keeping your arms bent at the elbows and your forearms parallel with the ground. To do that, shorten the height of your poles to maintain proper form. This will give you more leverage as you …….