There are 22 Apostle Islands but only 21 make up the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. (Populated Madeline Island is the only exception.) Many Islands are designated as part of the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area with back-country permits.
In this National Park there are 6 historic lighthouses, untold miles of beautiful sand beaches, over 20 miles of sandstone cliffs riddled with sea caves and unusual rock formations, 22 documented shipwrecks, an abandoned fish camp, brownstone quarries, and has such rich history in Native American lore, French Voyager travels, and the shipping trade.
It is an ideal place for sea kayaking in the summer, not just for the main tourist attractions. Sheltered inlets, bays, and back water sloughs provide kayakers ample opportunities to practice skills or practice navigation on the open water crossings. For those with more time, most of the islands have designated campsites with potable water, outhouses, picnic tables and fire circles. Miles of hiking trails provide access to other historical sites. The natural beauty and solitude here is remarkable!
Mainland Sea Caves- You reach these mainland caves off of HWY 13 and put in at Meyers Rd. Beach. They are the main attraction around here. Beautiful and relatively easy to get to. Mainland shoreline paddling. We offer full and 1/2 day trips there daily.
Eagle and Gull Islands - These are bird sanctuaries. You may paddle by & watch but must keep your distance. You're not allowed to stop.
Sand Island- Sands offers the opportunity to visit the Sea Caves along Swallow Point and the Lighthouse there built in 1881 out of "brownstone" (local sandstone colored by iron staining). It is a close island if you put in at Little Sand Bay which makes this island a good choice for day trips or for your first night of camping.
York Island- York was at one time 2 islands but today sand, flora & fauna bridge the gap between the two. It boasts one of the most breathtaking views of all the islands and beautiful sand beach camping!
Raspberry Island- The lighthouse has been restored to turn-of-the-century condition, along with the grounds, gardens, and croquet court. The NPS personnel, dressed in lightkeeper's garb, will tell the tale of their daily activities and the previous role they played in the Great Lakes shipping trade. For a $3/pp fee. There is no camping on Raspberry but it's a good place to stop for lunch & take the tour! Watch out for the excursion boats here they leave quite a wake!
Bear Island- This island's looming shape is responsible for its name. Seemingly rising out of the depths of the Lake it boasts the grand mammal's outline. It has a small secluded cove on the north side to take a break and has some interesting jagged rock shoreline.
Devil's Island- Devil's has by far the best most fascinating stretch of Sea Caves and expansive red earthen cliffs within the islands. It has a historic lighthouse that boasts an original "Fresnel" lens. If you are lucky enough to catch the park personnel out there & they take you up to the tower be prepared to don an apron with strict orders not to touch anything. It's so worth it. The view from up there, or really any part of the island, is breathtaking!
Although the caves are tempting to explore they can be extremely hazardous when seas are rough or a squall sneaks up. The shoreline offers very few safe landing sites. You must pay close attention to the weather! It is also (besides outer) the furthest out and requires a lot of paddling. This is not a beginner journey unless you are with a guide. Devil's only has 1 campsite. Also be mindful of the cruise boat's wake & pull your kayak up higher than you think.
Rocky Island- Rocky offers 7 campsites so the availability is a little better. You can jump over to Devil's if the weather is good for a day trip. The beach is long & beautiful with a great view of South Twin. Excellent place to camp!
South Twin- ST is a small island but has 4 campsites. It's also a good place to camp if you want to explore the nearby islands.
North Twin- No camping. Strictly wilderness area. Good place to rest and prepare if your mission is to make it to the Outer Island dock and light house. As a kayaker we would recommend making the crossing from Cat or Stockton instead.
Cat Island- Only one campsite makes this a good island if your looking for solitude and allows a rest opportunity if you plan to cross to Outer.
Outer Island - Outer is the furthest island out. There is a gorgeous light house with keepers home and old railroad tracks up top. There is only one site, and is harder to get to, so there is not much tourist traffic. Beautiful beaches & amazing views, but not for beginners.
Ironwood and Otter Islands- Ironwood is a small island that boasts a nice sandy beach. Otter is right in the middle, perfect to jaunt from. Both offer only one campsite which is kind of fun having a whole island to yourself for the night.
Manitou- Manitou has an old fish camp with a Park Ranger that will give an interpretive tour about the camp and fishing trade. One campsite.
Oak Island- Oak offers plenty of campsites & is relatively close. It's a good first or second night camp spot if going around the peninsula. It has the highest point among the islands with many hiking trails to allow for fantastic views. From the water just its height makes it easy to identify and helps with navigation.
Hermit Island- Hermit has a small cave and offers the best agate hunting beach. Ask about old hermit Wilson and his trials of living on this island. No camping but worth the rest stop.
Stockton Island- LOVE IT! This island has the longest most beautiful sandy beaches of all the islands. The sand on the beaches is so thick and lovely that the granuals make an interesting swish-swishy sound that is commonly referred to as "singing sands". The water is so clear that on the west side by the beach beginning there are a few small cave areas that you can dive through. Updated campsites, visitor center, hiking trails, tombolo, best wild blueberry picking, just a few of the many things to do out here.
Michigan Island- The Lighthouse and light station are fun to hike to by putting in at the sheltered inlet / campsite area. The shoreline by the dock is narrow and goes straight up. There's what seems like a million stairs to climb to get up top from the boat dock area.
Basswood Island- Basswood is a perfect day trip or first night/single night camping as it is the nearest island to Bayfield. It was once inhabited. Hiking trails lead through old remains of a dairy farm and orchards that supplied the local area. Hike further to view the rock formation "Honeymoon Rock" for a great photo opportunity. Then visit the remains of a brownstone quarry that provided "fire proof" material used to build the Milwaukee Courthouse, Bayfield County Courthouse (now the Apostle Islands Headquarters building), the St. Paul Dispatch building, and many buildings in Chicago after the "Great Chicago Fire" just to name a few. Basswood has a lot to offer and is a trip we do daily.
Madeline Island- Madeline is best for the car camper. It's fun to ride the ferry over to Madeline Island with the kayaks on top and camp at either Big Bay State Park or the local Town Park. The sites are top notch with picnic tables, fire rings, regular toilets and showers available. The Big Bay beach is gorgous and offers a great swimming & kayak shoreline couple hour/day trip area. Be sure to check out the views from the rocky cliff section off the state park picnic area. After exploring during the day, you can head to one of the restaurants/bars on the island at night.
Long Island- Long is like a giant sand bar. One campsite. Fun day jaunt to just sit on the beach and soak up the rays!
Trek and Trail's mission is to provide safe, affordable, quality kayak outfitting, education, guide & retail services to those seeking memorable outdoor experiences, while maintaining a high level of customer service and sense of commitment to the earth. Open minded, friendly, caring, safe, responsible, simple are all words we think of daily as we carry out our jobs.
Lynn Riemer- Reservations & Retail
Rob and I are originally from the Racine/Kenosha, WI area. We were both in the military. Rob in the Army National Guard (artillery) and myself in the Navy/ Naval Reserve (Hospital Corpsman). We enjoy all silent sports (skiing, backpacking, canoeing, etc) but kayaking is our passion. We have traveled much with our kayaks especially out West, to Alaska and Canada's Rossport and Slate Island areas.
Rob has gone through WFR (Wilderness First Responder), 4 Star / Coach 2 BCU (British Canoe Union), ACA American Canoe Association training and also carries a Safe Food Handlers Certification. We both have CPR and First Aid.
Our Story-In 1998 we were vacationing along the Lake Superior Circle Tour and stopped in Bayfield on a friend's recommendation. We absolutely fell in love with Bayfield, the Park, the people, history and culture of this beautiful area. We had our first experience kayaking with Trek & Trail then. We were so impressed with the whole company & adventure from start to finish. Rob was especially interested in the guide position and just grilled our guide (now friend) Don Watson for as much information as possible. He thought how cool being a guide must be!
That following winter we received a post card in the mail from Trek & Trail with a "now hiring" note. Rob threw it in the garbage thinking "I have no experience, they wouldn't hire me". I pulled it out of the can and said "can't hurt to try". We made up a resume. Greg Sweval called & so it began.
Rob would drive the 7.5 hrs. every weekend up to Bayfield just to have the opportunity to guide. He did weekends for a couple years and both of us using up our vacation times. Rob's "real" job at the time was for a painting contractor in Kenosha. I was working as a flexographic printing press operator. Bayfield locals knew Rob painted & kept asking him to do side projects. He told me he thought we could have a painting business up there. We risked it all, quit our good stable jobs, sold our house, & just went for it.
We had a determination to make that business work while still working for Trek and Trail. I became Rob's assistant, did reservations for Trek & Trail, and became a USPS rural route mail carrier in Bayfield. The painting business became very successful & has allowed us to live here year round comfortably, but our heart was/is always with Trek and Trail. When Mary decided this year to retire, get remarried, and move on to her next adventure, she thought of us to carry on the Trek and Trail Legacy and of course we jumped on it!
Again, we have risked everything we own and are now determined to assure that Trek and Trail is successful for many many years to come.
We appreciate all the love and support from family, friends, Mary & previous staff, vendors, and of course our loyal and new customers who are reading this- without you none of this would be possible. Thank You!
Trek and Trail was founded in 1978 by Mary and Greg Sweval. It began as a XC ski shop in Bessemer, MI and also provided winter adventure. In 1986 it opened a retail store and sea kayaking center in Bayfield providing trips and education among the Apostle Islands.
2016 will mark our 30 year anniversary of safely offering quality sea kayaking adventures to the public!
T&T also had kayaking centers in Door County & Duluth, ran international trips to Mexico and Lake Biakal, and offered dog sled rides in Bayfield during the winter. T&T has scaled back over the years as Greg had moved on to other ventures. Mary solely continued T&T and concentrated on growing the Bayfield location. In 2014 Mary decided to retire, and she has passed the T&T torch on to Scott Kluver and Rob & Lynn Riemer who have all been guides & staff for T&T for many years. They have a deep rooted passion to keep T&T going strong for many years to come. They are officially KR Kayaking LLC DBA Trek and Trail. You can read about them and their stories in the Meet the guides/staff section below.
Scott Kluver - Owner, Guide, "Numbers Guy"
Born and raised in Kenosha, WI, Scott received a Bachelors of Science in Public Administration and in Political Science along with a History minor from Winona State University in Winona Minnesota in 1997. In May of 2001, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a Masters of Public Administration.
In addition to being part owner of Trek & Trail and taking care of a lot of behind the scenes bureaucracy, Scott serves as the Administrator for the City of Washburn and has been in that position since May of 2007. He also serves as the Zoning Administrator for his sins.
In the remainder of all of his free time, he was the former President of the Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, and on occasion plays cello with the Chequamegon Symphony Orchestra.
When Scott is actually on the water, which he does occasionally manage in order to get away from the rest of his life, he is qualified as a Level 3 ACA Coastal Kayaking Instructor. He has guided part-time for Trek and Trail since 2010 and is noted for his dry wit. Scott loves to share his knowledge of the area and of kayaking to those who have not been to the Apostle Islands before.
Aidan is from Stillwater Minnesota, and currently attends the University of Minnesota, studying Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. He loves Bayfield, WI. & Lake Superior is a favorite kayak guide here at Trek & Trail. He has also spent several summers sailing in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and is also a Wilderness First Responder. Off the water he enjoys backpacking, cross-country skiing, and playing the drums.
Margaret and her husband, Kelly wanted to live where they play so they moved to the Chequamegon Bay area in 2005 to bike, ski, hunt, hike, fish, boat,..oh yeah, and work. Margaret is an elementary teacher at South Shore in Port Wing. During the school year she loves to teach her 2nd graders about Lake Superior watershed through outdoor learning opportunities. But her first job after moving up here was at T&T in reservations and retail. She returns every Summer to what she considers her T&T family! (but don't tell her it's work)!
Originally from Northern Virginia, Jon Flynn took his first kayak trip in the Apostle Islands in 1991. He has guided trips in the Archipelago on and off for over 20yrs! He earned a degree in Outdoor Education through Northland College studying Natural History and working with special populations. He has worked as an alternative and special education teacher for 14yrs.
Emily is originally from Central Ohio and has caught the Lake Superior bug. She studied Ecotourism and Adventure Travel at Hocking College in Nelsonville Ohio. Within her major natural resources, recreation, Adventure Leadership, and Leave No Trace were highlighted areas of study. Emily is also a certified Wilderness First Responder. Northern Wisconsin has definitely captivated her and she hopes it will do the same for the guests she takes on the water.
Our Hiring process is ongoing with the largest thrust happening between January-April. We accept resumes year round.
Positions we are looking to fill are for: Full sea kayak guide, Assistant sea kayak guide, Outfitting/Shuttle Driver, and Reservations/Retail.
Pay is based on experience.
If interested send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: P.O.Box 832 Bayfield, WI 54814, call, or send a message from the contact page and we will get back to you with an employment package.