Trek & Trail shuttled us and their kayaks from Bayfield to Little Sand Bay so we could spend our five days on the water traveling back to Bayfield. We headed out in wind and rain towards Bear Island, where we had reserved the islands backcountry camping permit for two nights. The park rangers at the Visitors Center had given us the map that marked the privately-owned parts of the island. As it turns out, there arent many publicly-owned places on that island that are easy to park a kayak. Since it was so rough, our options for landing were even more limited.
We wound up landing on a beach on the NE side of Bear Island (looking at the map, its on the north side of the pimple on the NE side of the island). Checking the ownership map after the fact, I realized this was privately-owned. Whoops. Just south of this beach you could land a kayak on some sandstone shelves. Theres a piece somewhere else on this website written by someone who said he did just this. I tried this landing, but in the wind and waves it was pretty gruesome.
The only other potential public landing site I saw was a 20-foot long beach, almost hidden if you are approaching from the south, just NE of the huge private beach on the southern end of the island. If you land there, youd then have to haul your stuff up a steep hill to find a place to camp, though youd have an amazing view from your tent. Although irritating because theres no place to land, the east side of Bear Island has some red cliffs and grottoes that make for great scenery as you paddle by.
The next day we paddled around Devils Island for some sea cave exploration. Dont let anyone talk you out of going there (as the first person I spoke to at Trek & Trail tried to do). The caves more than live up to their reputation. We parked at the dock on the south end of the island and walked up the trail to the lighthouse on the north end. Theres a nifty overlook there of one of the grottoes.
We spent the next two nights at the campsite on the SW corner of Oak Island. Its a beautiful spot, but it is not a well-kept secret. We were on Oak Island the Friday night and Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend and there were plenty of people using that beach.
Paddling around the east and southern coasts of Oak Island is a little different from what we saw on Bear and Devils Islands. There is less red rock in wild formations and more steep, forested hills running down to beaches and rocky shorelines. There are plenty of places to land and we saw lots of bear prints on the beaches.
For bodies of water to explore on a smaller scale than Lake Superior, all of the islands have lots of streams that wind their way through the woods towards the beaches.
The last paddle back to Bayfield is pleasant, but perhaps a little humdrum after everything that came before.
Trek & Trail made us take a lesson before letting us run off with all their stuff. Im not such a great paddler that I minded. The night before our trip we stayed at Greunke's First Street Inn, a neat, quirky (and not too expensive) hotel just a block or two from Trek & Trail and the water. The hotel has a restaurant. If you eat there, order the fish livers. Very good.
Trek & Trail; Kayaks and accessories.
You need to reserve the camping spots from the NPS. There is $15 processing fee.
Little Sand Bay is about 70 miles NE of Deluth on Highway 13.
Bayfield, WI (where Trek & Trail is located) is also on Highway 13 about 20 miles South of Little Sand Bay.