Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tuscobia Trail offers great lake, farm scenes

Tuscobia State Trail trailhead east of Birchwood, Wis.
Wisconsin has nicely converted a number of abandoned railroad grades to hiking and multi-use trails. Among the more popular is the 74-mile Tuscobia Trail running from Rice Lake to Park Falls.

In the southeast corner of Washburn County, the trail passes through the village of Birchwood, the self-proclaimed Bluegill Capital of Wisconsin. A pleasant segment of the trail to day hike goes northeast from downtown Birchwood for a 4-mile round trip to County Road F and back.

Birchwood east segment
Hiking the trail anytime in summer and autumn will prove enjoyable. Note that the trail closes from Nov. 15-Dec. 15 for deer hunting season.

To reach the trail segment, park downtown, picking up the Tuscobia on County Road D/Euclid Avenue just north of the Wis. Hwy. 48 intersection.

After walking just a tenth of a mile, hikers will come to the south end of Birchwood Lake. The popular fishing lake covers 364 acres and is home to largemouth and smallmouth bass, Northern pike, walleye and panfish.

Passing the lake, the trail swerves to the south side of Hwy. 48; be careful when crossing the highway, especially of vehicles turning off La Pointe Drive onto Hwy. 48 a few feet to the east. ATVs also can use the trail, and while it’s plenty wide for both vehicle and hiker, always exercise caution.

A project since 1968
Construction of the Omaha rail line that is now the Tuscobia begin in 1899 and lasted for some 15 years. By the 1940s when logging was no longer viable in the region, the rail line saw much less usage, which eventually ended altogether. Wooden bridges over some waterways were torn out in 1967, and the following year locals across the region began a long, concerted effort to convert it to a hiking trail.

Upon leaving town, the trail passes scenic farmland. Trees line the walking path, offering some shade.

Amid the scenery, you’ll cross an unmarked boundary into Sawyer County then enter a bucolic woods of mixed hardwoods.

Upon reaching County Road F, you’ve gone 2 miles one way. This marks a good spot to turn around, though the trail does continue for several more miles on its way to Couderay.

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