Door County is a biker’s paradise
Remember that feeling you had as a kid, when you got on your bike and you were absolutely free?! Well, I have discovered that feeling again – as a grown up, biking Door County Wisconsin’s backroads, where there are no stoplights, and you can just ride… I have gotten lost countless times, and in doing so discovered something I really love. Biking gives you a perspective you cannot get from behind the wheel of an automobile. You can go at your own pace and take in beautiful scenery that would get overlooked flying by at 60 mph. You don’t observe things quite the same way through a car window, as you do while riding a bike.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll
If you’re not familiar with Door County, it’s a narrow peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin, dotted with picturesque small towns and more than 3oo miles of rocky shoreline. The inland is mostly farms, fields, stands of trees and miles of winding open road, making it the perfect place for biking! Cell service can be spotty up here though, and it is easy to lose your way. I have have mapped a route for intermediate bikers highlighting choice spots in Sister Bay, that will keep you off busy roads, and offer a glimpse of what makes this place so unique. Hopefully, you will embrace the spirit of adventure, take a detour and discover something noteworthy and new.
Hwy Q > Woodcrest Road > Old Stage Road
This 16 plus mile loop takes you from the eastern edge of Ephraim, to the back roads of Sister Bay. We’ll begin at the intersection of 57 and Q where there is a cluster of little shops and galleries worth checking out before or after your ride. Cloud Nine Juice Bar and Cafe, newly opened in July 2017, is located here and is quickly becoming one of my favorites! From the intersection, head east on Hwy Q for about a mile, and take a left on Woodcrest Road. After a mile hang a right on Old Stage Road and follow that for a steady four miles curving left around the bend. As you roll along, notice how big the sky feels with nothing to obstruct your view, and become utterly immersed in the sights and sounds around you.
Old Stage Road > Hwy ZZ
Take a right on Hwy ZZ, which will send you over to the ‘lake side.’ This will be a gentle incline, no big hills on this ride, although there are many in Door County, particularly on Hwy 42. After about a mile, look for North Bay Road Farms, a quaint little roadside produce stand. Depending on the season, you might score veggies picked fresh from nearby fields, or a bouquet of sunflowers – I hope you brought a backpack, and cash. It’s the honor system, so dollar bills will come in handy too.
Why ZZ > Waters End Road
As you round the curve and head north up Hwy ZZ, you may want to consider taking a little detour and stopping for a swim at Sand Bay Town Park, one of the less well-known (read: ‘no tourists’) beaches in the area. This is the halfway point, and most scenic location on the route to take a break, even if just to enjoy the view of Lake Michigan. Instead of turning left on Waters End Road, go right for an easy mile and a half, and look for the signs to Sand Bay. You will most likely have the place to yourself! Take my advice and bring a blanket and a swim suit. This is a lovely spot to chill, and let the sound of waves lull you into a relaxed state, while you soak up some sunshine.
Waters End Road > Old Stage Road > Woodcrest Road
When you’re ready to press on, head west (away from the water) on Water’s End Road for about a mile and a half and turn left, or south down Old Stage Road. When you get to Hwy ZZ turn right. Keep your eye out for the farm with all the goats, you can’t miss it because there are at least thirty of them (and llamas too!) and they bleat, which can sound like babies crying. On this stretch you will continue to coast gently downhill past the most beautifully maintained barns and orchards. Hang a left on Woodcrest Road at the red barn, which almost looks surreal, like a picture postcard.
Woodcraft Road > Old Stage Road > Orchard Road
You might be tempted to stop and take photos at this intersection, but you’ll lose the momentum needed to climb the upcoming hill. There is no shame in walking your bike, and fear not, the end is in sight. Press on, and turn right on Old Stage, and then left on Orchard, and right on Q again, where you will recognize your surroundings. You are back where you started, hopefully having fallen in love with the beauty of Sister Bay!
Orchard Road > Hwy Q > Hwy 57
At this point, I’d recommend anything on the menu at Cloud Nine Juice Bar & Cafe, because you have certainly earned it! It’s a wonderful place to refuel and revitalize with organic, locally sourced, non-GMO fruit and cold pressed veggie juices and smoothies. The young couple who owns it is expanding their menu, and making it their mission to spread the word about clean eating. Relax in the serene minimalist setting inside or outside by the garden, and be sure to check out the stunning photography on display, while you ‘get your juice on.’
I hope you enjoy the ride, and above all… the journey! Check back soon to see more featured routes in Sister Bay, Fish Creek, Ephraim and Baileys Harbor ~ and leave a comment if you have suggestions, or a destination you’d like to see incorporated into a route. I’ll scope it out! Please also remember to stay hydrated, and wear a helmet.
Satellite map & links: