Traveling from the City of Bayfield to Port Superior, the Brownstone Trail is a popular trail among Bayfield residents and visitors. Landmark Conservancy helped establish the trail in 1996 in cooperation with private landowners who own sections of the trail. A portion of the trail has been closed due to active slumping.
Slumping initially occurred following nor’easter storms in October 2017 and 2018. The damage was extensive and has continued to worsen. Landmark accepted the donation of this unstable land in 2019 and has been actively exploring restoration solutions with input from the community.
Here is a timeline of the most recent events. Click each item to learn more:
Spring 2019 - Land Donation
Landmark accepts a donation of an area of land that has been actively slumping since 2017. This gives Landmark the ability to begin managing the property beyond the trail, and determine how best to stabilize and restore the slump site. A reroute guides people around the slumped property. The slumped property is closed due to safety concerns and a re-route established along Highway 13.
Summer 2019 – Spring 2020 - Engineering Study
Landmark works with a coastal engineering firm (SmithGroup) to understand the underlying causes of the slumping and identify options for restoration and stabilization. Landmark forms a Brownstone Trail Ad-hoc Advisory Committee of local residents who meet regularly to help with project.
Spring 2020 - Community Input Survey
Landmark and the Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee circulate a survey to community members to learn how they use the Brownstone Trail and what they know about the slump site.
Summer 2020 - Virtual Community Meeting
Landmark holds a virtual community meeting to provide education on causes of lakeshore slumping, options to address lakeshore slumping, and to identify next steps for the slump site. VIEW PRESENTATION
Summer 2020 - Reroute Signs Posted
Temporary signage is posted along the reroute to help guide users. Trail barriers are improved as site continues to erode and is unsafe.
Fall 2020 - Local Contractor Discussions
Landmark confers with local contractors including C&W Trucking to see if placing large rock on the slope as-is would be suitable. As described in SmithGroup’s assessment, the slope is currently too steep to support this.
- A potential short-term option would involve placing large rock at the toe of the bank (with permission from Kenny Dobson and as permitted by regulatory agencies) and then reshaping the lower and upper slopes (on Landmark and Maki properties) to a more gradual angle to increase stability and reduce erosion.
- A longer-term option would be to purchase the Maki property located above the slump, relocate the trail on top of the slope, and create a public community space and trail access on the property.
Winter 2020 - Improved Barriers
Landmark improves trail barrier on north end of closed section to address safety concerns. Improved signage will be placed along the reroute.
Winter 2020 - Spring 2021 - Reroute Improvement
Landmark and the Brownstone Trail Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, in partnership with the Bayfield Area Trails group, is developing options to improve the reroute by reducing the length of the detour along Highway 13 and avoiding the sharp curve on the highway. If improvements are viable, trail improvements and signage would be implemented prior to the busy trail use season of 2021.
Winter 2020 - Maki Property Appraisal
An appraisal of the Maki property is being completed. This will give us an independent, unbiased assessment of the property’s value.
Spring/Summer 2021 - Fundraising/Future Planning
If value is agreed upon for Maki property, fundraising will begin to purchase the property and to restore and stabilize the site and trail. Concurrently, planning would be initiated for the potential layout of the property as a community and conservation space.
Please, for your safety and to prevent further damage to the sensitive hillside, DO NOT enter the closed portion of the trail.
The trail is closed between Seagull Bay Motel and Lakeshore Drive. Coming from the City of Bayfield, once you get to Seagull Bay motel, you will need to walk up the hill to Highway 13 and then turn left. You will travel alongside the shoulder until you get to Lakeshore Drive. Turn left on Lakeshore Drive and go down the hill until you meet the trail again. There is no additional access point along the reroute.
There is no parking at the other end of the trail. Chequamegon Road is a privately-owned road. There is also no parking at Wild Rice Retreat unless you are a guest there. Parking along Lakeshore Drive is tight and discouraged.