Saturday, August 24, 2013

Challenging trail awaits day hikers to Mt. Valhalla in northern Wisconsin

Popular ski routes run through national forest

Day hikers during summer can enjoy a set of trails that the U.S. Olympic Nordic Ski Team once trained on near Washburn, Wis.

A pair of three loops – the Teuton and the Valkyrie – make up the Mt. Valhalla trails in the Chequamegon National Forest. A shortened version of the Teuton Trail System’s Loop C makes for a somewhat challenging 2.75-mile hike.

To reach the trail, from Washburn take County Road C north for 8.5 miles. The parking lot is on south side of road, where the Teuton Trails are located (the Valkyrie Trails are on the right); you’ll need a pass to park your vehicle in the national forest.

Four Mile Creek
From the parking lot, follow the trail clockwise (the opposite way skiers take it), by heading south past the shelter. Upon reaching the split in the trail, go left/southeast, putting you on Loop C.

From there, you’ll begin traveling along the side of Mt. Valhalla and soon cross Four Mile Creek. The trails ultimately climbs about 170 feet in elevation with few level areas.

You may be too busy taking in Mt. Valhalla’s natural beauty to notice. The trails run through a Northern hardwood forest – rare for the Bayfield Peninsula – full of big tooth aspen, black oak, paper birch, and sugar maple trees, with a few scattered Eastern white pines. Ferns blanket the forest floor.

After a quarter mile, the trail curves south then west. You’ll soon parallel Four Mile Creek and then cross it again. A variety of frogs, chipmunks and red squirrels inhabit this area, and you’re likely to hear if not see them on the trail.

Mt. Valhalla's summit
In another mile, the trail curves north. Keep an ear out for the many songbirds in the forest, including the yellow-bellied sapsucker, blue jays, wood thrush, robins, warblers, sparrows, and grosbeaks.

After about a quarter mile when you come to a trail junction, go right/east. You’re now on Loop B. As the trail turns sharp to the north, you’ve come the closest to reaching Mt. Valhalla’s summit. The mountain tops out at 1388 feet, and you’re about 110 feet below it.

Loop B meanders downhill in a northerly direction for about 0.75 miles. The trail then makes a hard right for 0.5 miles with Loop A joining it along the way. This will take you back to the parking lot.

Don’t worry about getting confused by all of the trail junctions and intersecting snowmobile trails that cross your route. All of the Teuton’s trails are well-signed a metal map sits at every trail junction.

Read more about day hiking Bayfield County, Wisconsin, in my Day Hiking Trails of Bayfield County guidebook.