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If, after a long winter, the cynic in you is thinking "April snows bring May woes" instead of "April showers bring May flowers," TRAVELER suggests a visit to Door County as a seasonal attitude corrective.
Come spring, the county ringed by 250 miles of Green Bay and Lake Michigan shoreline blossoms into colors both delicate and bright as hundreds of wildflowers, ornamentals and fruit trees begin to bloom. The show goes on until late fall, but the best time to experience the floral performance is late April through the entire month of May, Door County's Festival of Blossoms.
More than one million daffodils (including a special white-and-apricot variety called the "Doorfodil") raise their buttery heads to the sun as April winds down. The arresting yellowtops soon give way to the subtler pleasures of cool white large-flowered trillium blanketing forest floors and shaded roadsides in early May. Together, starflower, bunchberry, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild columbine and yellow lady's slipper, to mention just a few, make up a lively supporting cast. Catch the wildflowers on stage at the five state parks in the county (Peninsula, Potawatomi, Newport, Whitefish Dunes, Rock Island) or at the Ridges Sanctuary, a wildflower preserve designated as a National Natural Landmark.
The sweet scent of apple and cherry blossoms announce the arrival of mid-May, when the county's famous orchards take center stage.
Door County is the third largest red tart cherry producer in the nation, and also raises one of Wisconsin's largest apple crops. Thousands of fruit trees in flower never fail to delight the senses – two of which, sight and smell, can be satisfied immediately. (The other three must wait until fall, when you can pick your own fruit, then savor a sweet-tart cherry cobbler and hear the gratifying crunch that only comes from biting into a crisp, blushing Northern Spy.)
Many Door County communities hold special events during the blooming month of May. Contact the Door County Chamber of Commerce in Sturgeon Bay at (920) 743-4465 for a listing. For additional information, call Ridges Sanctuary, Baileys Harbor (920) 839-2802; Newport State Park, Ellison Bay (414) 854-2500; Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek (920) 868-3258; Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay (920) 746-2890; Whitefish Dunes State Park, Sturgeon Bay (920) 823-2400; or Rock Island State Park, (920) 827-2235.
Trails for hikes, trails for bikes, trails for bilers, trails for skiers: Wisconsin has them all, including an extensive network of paths and byways available primarily for the enjoyment of the two-headed, six-legged recreationist. If that description fits you, snap up a copy of "Horseman's Guide to Wisconsin Trails," the sixth edition of a trail directory published by the Wisconsin State Horse Council, Inc.
Organized by county, the guide lists nearly every place in the Badger State where horses and their riders can trot off into the sunset.
Covering federal, state, county and private trails, the guide features trail maps and useful information on assorted horsey amenities at parks and campsites, such as hitching rails, slip stalls and corrals. (Bring your own oats.)
The "Horseman's Guide to Wisconsin Trails" will set you back about as much as a bar or two of saddle soap. Send $6 to the Wisconsin State Horse Council, 32 South Ludington Street, Columbus WI 53925. Or call (920) 623-0393.