Sitting on a small but gorgeous stretch of Lake Michigan's shoreline, Harrington Beach State Park, located midway between Milwaukee and Sheboygan, Wisconsin, offers visitors opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, paddling and more.
Summer visitors flock to the fine sands of Harrington Beach, but with over a mile of shore, there's plenty of room for everyone. Farther inland, the park boasts a diverse mix of wetlands, forest, and grassland. Quarry Lake, the happy byproduct of former limestone mining in the area, sits near the park's center. You can find a variety of panfish, including bluegills, and crappies in the lake's calm waters. Several short trails wind their way across the park's mixed landscapes. From spring through fall, birdwatching and wildflower spotting are popular along these routes, and during winter, cross-country skiing is allowed.
Harrington Beach sports several camping options. Its main camping area is RV- and trailer-friendly and has nearly 70 sites, about half of which offer electric hookups. The park also has an ADA-friendly cabin, several walk-in primitive tent sites, and even a shoreline campsite reserved for kayakers. Almost all of Harrington Beach's sites can be reserved ahead of time. If you plan on arriving during peak season, from the end of May through early September, a reservation is highly recommended.
Harrington Beach is located right off of I-43, which runs along the shore of Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Green Bay. The roads to and within the park are paved and well-maintained. There are no hills, hairpin turns, or tunnels to worry about. Even those driving large rigs or hauling long trailers should have no trouble getting to Harrington Beach. Some roads within the campground are narrow, though, and foot-traffic is heavy, so be sure to drive slowly.
Sites at Harrington Beach's RV campground are gravel, but they're well-leveled. Most spots are back-in, though a few half-circle, pull-throughs are available. Harrington Beach has plenty of lengthy sites that can accommodate large rigs and trailers. Sites are fairly spaced out, so you should have little trouble maneuvering into your spot.
Once you are parked, you'll be within easy walking distance of everything the park has to offer, including Puckett's Pond, Quarry Lake, the beach, and several trailheads. Some additional parking is available at the beach, though it's a good idea to leave your trailer or RV behind at the campground.
Harrington Beach's main campground is set less than a quarter-mile from a beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. The area is very open - in some spots, trees offer partial shade, but the grounds are dominated mostly by grasses and shrubs. Still, since sites are large well-separated from each other, there's plenty of privacy.
In total, Harrington Beach's campground offers 69 sites, all of which are suitable for RVs and trailers. About half of these sites have 50-amp electric hookups, while the rest are primitive. The park does sport several freshwater spigots as well as a sanitary dump station. Modern restrooms with showers and laundry facilities are located in between the ground's two main loops.
Just about the entire park is within walking distance of the campgrounds. You can head over to Quarry Lake, stroll to the beach, or take a hike on one of the park's several trails. The campground's open season stretches from May through October. Reservations for 66 of the sites can be made online, with the last three being kept as first-come, first-served.
Those looking for a slightly more rugged camping experience may want to check out Harrington Beach's walk-in sites. The park sports five such sites, which are each equipped with a fire ring and picnic table.
No site is more than a quarter-mile from the walk-in parking area (which is just to the west of the main campground), but all sites are very spread out from one and other, offering plenty of peace and quiet. Most of the sites are at least partially shaded, too. Walk-in sites, like the park's RV campsites, can be reserved online.
The main campground keeps three sites open on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfilled reservable campsites can also be taken first-come, first-served. If you're traveling through during peak season, though, it's a good idea to book ahead if you can. The park's proximity to both Milwaukee and Sheboygan means that it fills up fast during the summer.
Harrington Beach also sports a lovely cabin, which is fully ADA-accessible (the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and entrance are all built with easy wheelchair use in mind). The cabin sits at the northern edge of the park's main campground. It has a wrap-around porch that offers great views of the surrounding fields and woodlands and a screened-in section that offers a respite from summer bugs. The cabin can sleep up to six, and reservations can be made online.
Planning a group event or big family get-together? You may want to look into Harrington Beach's group camping option. The park's lovely group site is set apart from the main campground, offering plenty of space along with two fire rings and several picnic tables.
The group campground does not offer any hookups, and it is meant for tent-camping only. Group campers, however, will have easy access to the main campground's amenities, including restrooms and laundry facilities.
Planning a paddling adventure along the shores of Lake Michigan? You may want to take advantage of Harrington Beach's awesome kayak campsite. The site is located right along the shoreline, in the southeastern corner of the park. Though it does not offer any hookups, it does offer a fantastic view and plenty of quietude, being set far from the park's main campground.
Nearby parking options for those hauling kayaks include Kholer-Andrae State Park, to the north, and the Port Washington Marina, to the south.
Winter usually sees a thick blanket of snow covering the woods and fields at Harrington Beach. The park's off-season is cold but quiet - visitors should find that they have plenty of space to themselves.
Cross-country skiing, a great way to get some exercise while taking in the stark but beautiful scenery, is allowed on several of the park's trails. The park also boasts a snowmobiling trail. Although you'll be far less tempted to take a dip, Lake Michigan is beautiful in winter too. A brisk walk along the beach promises great views and solitude.
During fall and winter, some portions of Harrington Beach are open to hunting and trapping. Standard gun hunting is not allowed here, though muzzle-loading and archery hunting are permitted, with some restrictions.
About half the park is completely closed to hunting, due to the density of trails, campground, and other recreation areas. Make sure you're familiar with all the necessary rules and regulations before heading out. White-tailed deer are the most commonly sought game, but several small mammals are also pursued.
Harrington Beach has several miles of trails spread across a series of small loops and spurs. Many of these are interconnected, so you can craft a route that best suits you.
One of the park's most popular trails is the Bobolink Loop, an easy, mile-long path that ambles across some of the park's prairie habitat. Walking along the trail, you may hear the distinctive, almost robot-like calls of bobolinks, which breed here in late spring and early summer. Another popular trail takes visitors on a loop around Quarry Lake, heading through quiet woodlands along the way.
Although Harrington Beach does not have its own boat launch, boating and paddling (especially kayaking) is nevertheless popular here. Given the gorgeous stretch of shoreline the park sits on, it's not hard to see why. Those looking to put in larger boats can use launches at either Kohler-Andrae State Park or the Port Washington Marina, located to the north and west of Harrington Beach, respectively.
The park does recommend that only experienced paddlers venture out onto the lake's waters, as windy conditions can make for challenging travel and may blow boats well offshore. If you're looking to turn your paddling adventure into an overnight experience, you may want to check out Harrington Beach's paddle-in campground, a set of six primitive sites reserved for kayakers only.
Cast a line into the mighty, expansive waters of Lake Michigan or into the placid waters of Puckett's Pond or Quarry Lake. You've got plenty of scenic options at Harrington Beach.
Those looking to go surf fishing can take a spot along the beach and cast for salmon or trout. With a wall of forest behind you and a seemingly endless expanse of blue water ahead, you're at least guaranteed a gorgeous view, if not a fish. Quarry Lake and Puckett's Pond are hosts to rich stocks of bluegills, crappies, and more. Wherever you decide to cast your line, make sure you have a valid Wisconsin state fishing license!
There's no better way to beat the summer heat than by taking a dip in the cool (some might even say frigid) waters of Lake Michigan. All of Harrington Beach's shoreline is open to swimming, so you should be able to find plenty of space to yourself. Watch sailboats drift across the horizon and seagulls soar overhead, or pop on some goggles and try to spot some of the lake's marine life.
Harrington's fine sandy beach is a great place to relax, sunbath, or read a book after you've gone for a swim. Those traveling with kids should note that the park does not employ any lifeguards.