Bay Field Kayaking Guide

A Kayaker's Guide to Bayfield Waters, Apostle Islands, and Beyond

Welcome to Bayfield, Wisconsin - the gateway to the Apostle Islands and a paddler's paradise. As you launch your kayak from the sandy shores of Lake Superior, prepare to be amazed by the natural beauty that surrounds you. Glide peacefully across crystal clear waters as the morning sun warms your face. Listen to the gentle lap of waves against your kayak and the cries of gulls overhead. Paddle at an easy pace, taking time to appreciate your stunning surroundings.

The Beauty of Bayfield's Waterfront

As you dip your paddle into the waters of Lake Superior from Bayfield Harbor, get ready for a visual feast! Imagine a colossal canvas, with Lake Superior stretching out like a sparkling blue blanket. This is where your kayaking adventure begins.

Keep an eye out for landmarks like the Bayfield city dock, Madeline Island in the distance, and Bayfield's charming waterfront plaza. Just offshore you'll find the renowned Apostle Islands, with their sea caves, sandstone cliffs, historic lighthouses, and sandy beaches. Paddle through arched rock formations sculpted by centuries of wind and waves. Watch for local wildlife like bald eagles, loons, and beavers that call this area home.

Best Kayaking Routes

Looking for the best kayaking in Bayfield? Whether you're an expert paddler or just starting out, Bayfield has routes to match your skills.

Apostle Islands Loop: Distance: 12 miles |Estimated Time: 4-6 hours |Notable Features: Sea caves on Devils Island, and sea stacks on Stockton Island.

The Apostle Islands Loop is a must-do 12-mile paddling adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. Launch your kayak from the historic Bayfield Harbor and begin exploring this natural wonderland. Paddle past the weathered docks standing since the late 1800s before stopping to marvel at the sea caves of Devils Island, sculpted into fantastic shapes by centuries of waves crashing against the shoreline. Further along, you'll find the magnificent sea stacks rising dramatically from the water around Stockton Island. With so much to discover, plan at least 4-6 hours to fully experience the loop. Take your time and enjoy the stunning vistas, rock formations, and solitude of paddling through the Apostle Islands.Devil island Bayfield

Meyers Beach to Sand Island: Distance: 5 miles| Estimated Time: 2-3 hours| Notable Features: Sea caves near Meyers Beach, sandstone formations.

For the shorter but equally stunning Meyers Beach to Sand Island route. Beginning at Meyers Beach, you'll kayak through enchanting sea caves showcasing intricate sandstone formations. As you make your way towards Sand Island, enjoy the peaceful feeling of paddling across open water. This 5-mile route takes about 2-3 hours.Sand Island Bayfield

Brownstone Trail to Red Cliff Sea Cave: Distance: 4 miles |Estimated Time: 1-2 hours |Notable Features: Brownstone Trail views, Red Cliff Sea Cave.

Start at Brownstone Trail, a peaceful path hugging the Lake Superior shoreline with gorgeous views. Paddle your kayak at an easygoing pace toward the Red Cliff Sea Caves, where waves have sculpted the cliffs into intricate shapes. This 4-mile route takes about 2 hours, perfect for taking in the scenery. Along the way, enjoy the panoramas from Brownstone Trail and explore the unique formations of the sea caves. It's an ideal outing for leisurely paddlers who want to experience both natural beauty and geological wonders. Pack a picnic to savor at a quiet spot along the lakeshore. With unhurried paddling and plenty of places to stop and appreciate the sights, it makes for a rejuvenating day on the water.Brownstone Bayfield

Outer Island Exploration: Distance: 8 miles |Estimated Time: 3-4 hours |Notable Features: Open water serenity, birdwatching opportunities.

Looking to immerse yourself in nature? Consider an Outer Island excursion departing from Bayfield Harbor. As you journey 8 miles into more open waters, a sense of remoteness will wash over you. Out here, it's just you and the elements. Keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds that call these parts home. With luck, dolphins may even surface alongside your boat. With 3-4 hours to explore, you'll have time to soak up the peaceful vibes of the open water and observe wildlife in its natural habitat. It's a great pick for nature lovers seeking to encounter the outdoor.        Outer island bayfield


Raspberry Island to Basswood Island: Distance: 6 miles |Estimated Time: 2-3 hours |Notable Features: Raspberry Island Lighthouse, Basswood Island farmstead.

If you're a history lover who enjoys paddling, the route from Raspberry Island to Basswood Island is a perfect Bayfield kayaking trip. Raspberry Island is home to a picturesque historic lighthouse set against lush greenery. As you paddle the 6 miles towards Basswood Island, you'll weave through the unique and easily accessible sea caves carved along the shoreline by Lake Superior. Once you reach Basswood Island, wander through the remains of the old farmstead and imagine what life was like for the farming families who once called this island home. The contrast between the natural beauty of the sea caves and the historic farmstead makes for an engaging paddle that combines scenery and cultural heritage.

With the historic lighthouse on Raspberry Island and abandoned farmstead on Basswood Island, this roughly 2-3 hour kayaking route lets you experience both natural wonders and glimpses into the region's past. For history and nature lovers alike, it's a delightful way to explore another dimension of the Apostle Islands.

Preparation for Your Adventure

Getting ready for a kayaking adventure in Bayfield? Choosing the right kayak is like picking the perfect partner for exploring Lake Superior. Sit-on-top kayaks are great if you want to easily get in and out. Touring kayaks are sleek and fast - ideal for crossing the big lake. And don't leave shore without your trusty gear: a life vest, a waterproof bag for your stuff, and a sturdy paddle to steer you along. Toss in a waterproof headlamp too if you plan to poke around the sea caves.

As you paddle, keep watch for Bayfield's wildlife celebrities. Bald eagles may circle overhead while loons serenade with their calls. Playful otters often join in the fun. Peer below to see lake trout and whitefish swimming under your kayak. Nature takes center stage here - you have front-row seats!

Of course, the weather sets the mood for your kayaking adventure. Check the forecast; calm waters and sunny skies make the perfect paddling partners. Summer is great, but early fall has its own quiet charm. Timing matters, so after a full day on the water, return to Bayfield for some well-deserved relaxation. Stroll the peaceful wooded trails along the shore or grab a bite while watching the sunset over the Apostle Islands. With its easy access to Lake Superior and the islands, Bayfield is a paddler's paradise.

Before heading out, check our website's paddle event page for upcoming kayaking happenings across the US. Subscribe to our newsletter for insider tips, updates, and a dash of Bayfield magic delivered to your inbox. Gear up, paddle on, and let Bayfield's waters weave their enchantment around you!

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