Tired from the previous day’s visit to Rock Island, we were slow to get going to our next destination—Newport State Park. The late start wasn’t a problem because we could take a more leisurely approach to this visit. Logistically, Newport was a breeze to get to, and since I had driven the length of the Door County Peninsula the day before, I was feeling confident in my navigating.
We got to the park around 10:45 am and started out on the trail by 11:00 am, only to have to turn back a quarter mile into our hike. I had decided to not make Lucky wear his backpack. He seemed tired yet from our hike the previous day, so instead of weighing him down with his supplies, I put his water, collapsible water bowl, and poop bags in my backpack. But there’s one thing I prefer to NOT put in my backpack that Lucky would typically carry—his poop. He had already pooped that morning, so I thought we’d be good to go. And Lucky was good to go. A second time. Since we hadn’t made it very far, I decided it was worth backtracking to the car, so I wouldn’t have to carry the poop for the entire rest of our hike. With the poop bag secured under the blade of the windshield wiper*, we set off again, both of us a little bit lighter and smelling much better.
Our first hike took us into the northern part of the park, along the lake and over rocky and rooty terrain before turning inland through the hardwood and evergreen forests. The sun was shining through the forest canopy, tempting me to go farther along the Europe Bay trail, but Lucky was already starting to trail behind me—the tell tale sign he’s losing steam. So we made our way back along Fern Trail, which takes you through one of many microclimates in the park. I’d love to go back through this section of trail in the summer to see all of the ferns in their full fern glory, but by this time in the year, they were all brown and withered.
By the time we got back to the car, we’d done a little over three miles, so it was time to eat lunch and power up for our second hike of the day. The main picnic area was surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday afternoon in October, so we drove back to parking lot #2, I threw some food in my backpack, and we mustered up the energy to go looking for a quiet spot to eat. The beach is a longer walk from parking lot #2, but we were rewarded for our effort with a half a mile of scenic beach all to ourselves. I let Lucky play in the water, but he quickly abandoned swimming to sniff the shoreline for the remnants of anything edible. I sat on the lone bench and ate my lunch, sharing some with Lucky, and then we rested, soaking up vitamin D and shoreline vibes. It was just the relaxing afternoon we needed after the previous day’s arduous agenda.
Our second wind took us on a short hike south along the shoreline. I didn’t want to push us too hard, so we didn’t attempt either of the full loop trails in this portion of the park, opting instead to check out Sand Cove and then cut back to the parking lot. I really would have liked to of explored this portion of the park more, but I was also really happy to end our day at Newport feeling relaxed and with just enough energy left to stop for a beer at Al Johnson’s Stabbur Beer Garden.
I had driven past the beer garden (and the more famous Al Johnson’s Restaurant and Butik) twice the day before as well as that morning on our way out to Newport, and since first noticing it, I had been trying to figure out when I could fit it in our schedule. Post-Newport hiking was the perfect opportunity, and the Stabbur Beer Garden was the perfect place for a post-hike beer. The establishment and staff are super dog friendly: Lucky got his very own water bowl and even a sizable dog biscuit! The atmosphere is fun with yard game and views of Sister Bay and the goats on the roof of Al Johnson’s. The only down side were the wasps that kept trying to join us. After enjoying a Spaten Oktoberfest, Lucky and I headed back to camp to rest up for our next day of hiking.
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*Tip: Most state parks do not have trash cans for disposing of poop bags. Rather than transporting smelly poop bags in the cabin of the car, I place them right between the hood of the car and the windshield, and I secure the bag with the windshield wiper blade. This way, my car doesn’t end up smelling like poop, and I remember to throw the bag out when we get someplace with a trashcan because it’s there, right in front of me. This method would obviously not work in the rain or any other circumstance in which you’d need to engage your windshield wipers.