Monday, February 4, 2013

Quaint country walk awaits on Wild Rivers

A walk through pleasant woodlands and scenic farmland await users of the Wild Rivers State Trail near Rice Lake, Wis. The trail runs for around 100 miles across three counties on an old Omaha and Soo Line Railroads rail line connecting the city to Superior.

A good place to experience the trail is at its southern end. Park north of the Rice Lake city limits at the Tuscobia State Trail junction on County Road SS, near its intersection with U.S. Hwy. 53. You can head south for about four miles into Rice Lake at West Knapp Street. Arrange to have someone bring you back to where you parked, or turn around at any time on the trail.

Great autumn walk
The parking lot sits east of County Road SS, and you’ll need to take the Tuscobia Trail west across the highway to reach the Wild Rivers Trail. Turn left or south onto the Wild Rivers Trail, which parallels County Road SS into Rice Lake. Turn right, and the trail heads to Haugen, Spooner, Trego, Minong, Gordon, Solon Springs and ends in Superior.

In addition to plenty of parking and its proximity to a major town for an enjoyable meal or shopping afterward, the part of the trail heading south is in excellent shape with compacted gravel making up the surface.

The first half mile or so heads through a typical deciduous forest that Wisconsin is famous for. In autumn, the trail’s varied trees alight in an array of crimson, amber and burnt orange leaves. Upon crossing County Road BB, however, the woods gives way to pretty farm fields that look best when green in August.

Bridge over stream
A little more than two miles later, you can glimpse through the deepening treeline a tributary that ultimately flows into nearby Stump Lake. As the region becomes more wooded, you’ll actually cross the serpentine waterway over a quaint bridge.

Expect to spot white-tailed deer, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks – and if lucky, fox – along the way. Songbirds are plentiful, and hawks soar overhead.

On weekends, anticipate a variety of other users. Mountain bikers, horseback riders and ATVers also frequent the trail. In winter, snowmobilers, cross country skiers and snowshoers all use the route.

The trail grows increasingly urban as reaching 22-1/2 Street with a good end spot at Knapp Street, where you can park your vehicle. Pit toilets are available at the trailhead.

Read more about day hiking Barron County in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Barron County, Wisconsin guidebook.