Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge contains ecotypes and habitat rare elsewhere in Wisconsin, including the coastal fens and alvars (e.g. limestone barrens). These communities support rare plants such as dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) and Canada yew (Taxus canadensis). With Lake Michigan as the backdrop, there are many opportunities to explore these rare communities, see unique wildlife species and take in views of historic lighthouses and shipwrecks.

Driving Directions

  • The refuge can be accessed only via private boat, kayak or commercial charter.
  • Plum Island coordinates: 85 56' 52.073"W 45 18' 46.55"N
  • Detroit Island coordinates: The parcel is located on the west shoreline at coordinates: N 45° 18’ 17.7” W 086° 54’ 11.6”

Fees

There is no charge to visit the refuge.

Restrooms

Restrooms can be found at the Plum Island Dock.

Points of Interest

  • Plum Island trails
  • Plum Island historic Coast Guard structures including lighthouse
  • Grapeshot shipwreck
  • Pilot Island Lighthouse

What To Do

If you have half a day or more

  • Visit Plum Island to hike the trails to see unique plant communities and view historic Coast Guard structures including the last remaining “Duluth-style” life-saving station in the Great Lakes. You may also view the Grapeshot shipwreck via boat or snorkel.

Know Before You Go

  • Access to islands can be limited by weather and lake conditions
  • Plum Island can only be reached by private boat or by commercial operators. Commercial operators are provided docking space, but private boats must dock on the outside of the breakwater.
  • Restrooms available on Plum Island, drinking water and garbage cans are not available
  • Cellular service is limited
  • Pilot, Hog and Rocky Islands (Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge) and Spider and Gravel Islands (Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge) are closed to public access for use by colonial nesting birds. Please maintain 1/4 mile distance from these islands to minimize disturbance to the birds, their nests and their young.
  • St. Martin Island is also currently closed to public access

Visitor Tips

  • Weather and lake conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared and monitor conditions.
  • Consult Door County Tourism for all opportunities available in the area

Activities

Plum Island is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend annually for wildlife observation, nature photography, hiking and viewing of historical Coast Guard structures. Interpretive programs and events are offered seasonally by the Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands.

 

Trails

The only established trails for public hiking exist on Plum Island and are remnants of the historic U.S. Coast Guard trails.

Central trails (Island interior)

Eagle and Fern Trails

Length: One way .5 miles, round trip 1 mile
Surface: Mowed grass and vegetation
Habitat: Northern mesic forest including maple, basswood, hackberry, birch, with some balsam fir and cedar

Perimeter Trails (Island perimeter)

Fog Signal Trail

Length: One way .5 miles, round trip 1 mile
Surface: Mowed grass and vegetation, bare soil and rock
Habitat: Open meadow, forest of cedar and mixed hardwoods and birch, wetland community

Island View Trail

Length: 1.7 miles, including center trail as full loop 2.3 miles
Surface: Mowed grass and vegetation, bare soil
Habitat: Northern mesic forest including maple, basswood, hackberry, birch, with some balsam fir and cedar

Related Documents

Audio Tour Available - Plum and Pilot Islands: From the Boat (izi TRAVEL app)- courtesy of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands 

Green Bay NWR Public Use Regulations

Public use regulations for Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Other Facilities in the Complex

Rules and Policies

  • Plum Island is open for hiking and wildlife observation Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Daylight hours only. Plum Island coordinates: 85 56' 52.073"W 45 18' 46.55"N.
  • Hog Island is closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds
  • Pilot Island is closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds
  • St. Martin Island is currently closed to all public use
  • Detroit Island Unit includes 148 acres of Detroit Island open for public access including deer hunting. The remainder of the island is privately owned. The parcel is located on the west shoreline at coordinates: N 45° 18’ 17.7” W 086° 54’ 11.6”.
  • Rocky Island is closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds

Locations

Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge
C/O Horicon National Wildlife Refuge W4279 Headquarters Road Mayville, WI 53050-1931

FOR GENERAL QUESTIONS EMAIL   GreenBayRefuge@fws.gov

 

Hours
Plum Island Access
Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend for hiking and wildlife observation
Daylight hours only
Hog Island, Pilot Island and Rocky Island Access
No public access
Closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds
St. Martin Island Access
Currently no public access
Currently closed to all public use
Detroit Island Unit Access
148 acres of Detroit Island is open for public access including deer hunting
Remainder of island is privately owned