Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rail line converted to trail great for hiking

 Stower Seven Lakes State Trail west of Amery.
Stower Seven Lakes State Trail map

Stower Seven Lakes trail
runs thru woods, farms

Peaceful woodland, serene ponds, and picturesque farms await day hikers on the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail heading west of Amery.

Built on a former rail line, the 14-mile trail heads to a mile short of Dresser. A good segment to take is from the trailhead in Amery for about 3 miles to the southern tip of Bear Trap Lake.

With a surface of crushed limestone and the generally level grade of rail lines - to save locomotive fuel consumption, railroads sought grades of no more than 3 percent for their lines - the trail is easy for families with children to handle. Milepost signs conveniently punctuate the trail.

Pastoral scenery
In Amery, the trail begins on Harriman Avenue west of Wis. Hwy. 46. A public parking lot is near the trail just east of Harriman Avenue.

About 0.2 miles in as leaving Amery, the trail crosses between North Twin and South Twin lakes. On North Twin Lake, a popular fishing destination, watch for bald eagles diving to snare walleye or Northern pike for a meal. Loons also can be spotted here.

At just under a mile, the trail crosses Baker Avenue. Though the area is moderately built up, the trail is nicely wooded with maple and oak, keeping you isolated from the sights of modern life.

Around 1.5 miles, the trail skirts a small group of ponds to the north. After that, farmland is visible between the tree breaks to the north and soon becomes more prevalent.

Bear Trap Lake
The trail is named for Harvey and Marilyn Stower of Amery. For many years, Harvey served in the Wisconsin Legislature and as Amery’s mayor.

As nearing Deronda, the trail intersects a couple of highways, so be safe when crossing them. The first of them comes at about 2.5 miles, when the trail junctions with State Highway 115. The next comes at about 2.8 miles with County Road F.

About three miles in, the trail reaches the southern tip of Bear Trap Lake with Kinney Lake to the south. This marks a good spot to turn around.

If time and energy permits, though, continue onward. At Deronda, the trail heads three more miles to Wanderoos, then 5 miles to Nye, and finally 2.5 miles to its end at 90th Avenue near Dresser.

Learn more about nearby day hiking trails in my Day Hiking Trails of Polk County guidebook.