Sunday, February 10, 2013

Otter slides await along wild river day hike

Trego Nature Trail
A pleasant walk through the woods along a wild river await hikers on the Trego Nature Trail in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Located in Washburn County, Wisconsin, the trail is best done during summer when the shaded walk keeps hikers cool. Early autumn is a good time for those who enjoy fall colors.

Abundant wildlife
To reach the trail, take U.S. Hwy. 63 north of Trego village. About 1.3 miles from visitor center and after crossing the bridge over the Namekagon River, take the first right. The parking lot is at end of this entrance road.

Look for the trailhead on the parking lot’s east side. The trail is fairly well-maintained. Watch for some steep inclines and narrow sections on curves, however.

The trail parallels the Namekagon River through a woods of pine and deciduous trees, with views of the waterway. Benches typically sit in the openings.

Hikers are likely to see a variety of wildlife or at least signs of it. White-tailed deer, turtles, fox, muskrat, bobcats, squirrels, snowshoe hares, and great blue heron abound in the riverway. Watch for otters and their slides, muddy paths cleared in the river’s bank in which they move from land to water.

Spotting sturgeon
You also might spot lake sturgeon - Wisconsin’s largest fish - especially if the water is low. They like to lay motionless beneath overhanging trees. In fact, the river’s name comes from the Ojibwe Indian words that loosely mean “place of the sturgeon.” Most of the sturgeon, however, is downriver below the Trego Dam.

After the footbridge, the trail loops back upon itself. Hikers can return to the parking lot the same way they came in. The trail comes to about the 2.8-miles round trip.

Dogs are allowed on the trail if leashed. For safety, don’t climb the river banks as they can be slick.

On the drive back home, stop at the Namekagon Visitor Center for displays about the riverway.

Learn about nearby trails in Day Hiking Trails of Washburn County.