Lakeshore Trail to Sea Caves

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Trip Date: Saturday, August 13th, 2016
Last Updated: Thursday, December 12th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Moderate
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 4 miles roundtrip
Time 2 hours
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

Thanks to the waves of Lake Superior and the freeze and thaw cycle, millions of years of erosion of the sandstone cliffs along the lake resulted in the sea caves you see today in the Apostle Islands. Luckily, you do not have to take a boat to experience the sea caves for yourself and you can drive to Meyers Beach to see the mainland sea caves. In the winter, the right conditions cause fantastic ice formations on the inside of these caves and visitors can walk two miles across the frozen lake to view this phenomenon. During the summer, you can follow the Lakeshore Trail to see these caves from above. Dogs are allowed both on the trail and at the beach on a leash six feet or shorter.

The first 0.7 miles of the trail is a boardwalk, designed to protect the surrounding vegetation from erosion. After the boardwalk ends, you will eventually reach an intersection with a dirt road. Cross the road and continue heading straight on the trail. The next section of the trail is a little more difficult, with a couple of steep slopes and a few creek crossings -- take your time and you shouldn't get wet. I found this trail to be quite fun, and all the winding through the forest with ups and downs and creek crossings gave the hike an adventurous feeling without the technical challenges of a more remote wilderness hike.

Two miles in you will find the viewing area for the sea caves. Wooden railings line the cliff edges to prevent anyone from accidentally falling. The sea caves are not particularly photogenic, as evidenced by the first photo below, and it is not worth it to cross the fence to attempt to get a better angle. However, experiencing the caves in person is a beautiful spectacle, as are the cliffs and views of Lake Superior, as seen in the pictures below. When I was there, I watched as a tour guide drove his boat full of people into the caves and heard his narration echo through the cliffs -- maybe you will be lucky enough to get a free tour too!

The sea caves may not photograph well, but they are impressive in person

The sea caves may not photograph well, but they are impressive in person

The cliffs of Lake Superior near the sea caves

The cliffs of Lake Superior near the sea caves

Although the hike along the Lakeshore Trail to the sea caves is only 4 miles roundtrip, the trail extends an additional 2.5 miles beyond the viewpoint. Most people turn around after reaching the first viewpoint, so the trail will be significantly less crowded should you continue hiking. As I was leaving, I noticed the storm building on the horizon (see picture below). I hurried back through the forest so I could have time for a quick swim before the clouds emptied themselves on me. I made it back in time, and the downpour started just as I exited the water.

Watching a storm approach over Lake Superior

Watching a storm approach over Lake Superior

Once you finish hiking, Meyers Beach at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an ideal location to spend a day enjoying the outdoors with your family. The well-maintained beach is a convenient spot to relax after your hike, where you can cool off in the refreshing waters of Lake Superior and picnic while soaking in the warm summer sun and playing in the sand. In addition, the beach is the launching point for kayak tours of the sea caves.


Meyers Beach is approximately 3.5 hours from the Twin Cities. Take Interstate 35 north to Duluth, then merge onto Interstate 535 and cross the bridge into Superior. Exit onto U.S. Highway 53, the go west on Wisconsin State Highway 13. Turn left on Meyers Road and follow it until you reach the parking area.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Each vehicle must pay a $5 fee to park (View full fee schedule here). Passholders of the America the Beautiful Interagency Senior Pass or Interagency Access Pass receive a 50% discount on this fee. There are picnic areas, bathrooms, and a well maintained beach.

Nearby Hikes

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Gooseberry Falls Accessible Route
Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Viewing the frozen waterfall from the trail
Fifth Falls Loop
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The highest waterfall in Minnesota
High Falls and Two Step Falls
Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota
The marvellous cliffs along Lake Superior
Shovel Point and Superior Shore
Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

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