Sunday, June 1, 2014

Diverse day trails abound at Crex Meadows

Upper Phantom Cross Country Ski
and Hiking Trail from parking area
along East Refuge Road
Several walking paths and jeep trails run through Crex Meadows Wildlife Area north of Grantsburg, Wis. Among the more popular ones are:
g Abel Prairie Trail – Day hikers can discover what northwest Wisconsin’s grasslands looked like in pre-pioneer days with a walk along this easy half-mile (1-mile round trip) out-and-back trail. It follows the western and southern shores of Zulliger Flowage as skirting a restored prairie area.
g Hay Creek Trail – The 1.5-mile loop heads through a forested area to the Lower Hay Creek Flowage. The forested area is among the higher elevations of land in Crex Meadows.
g Reed Lake Meadow State Natural Area Trail – On James Road south of Reed Lake Road, take the jeep trail west to the parking lot at the edge of the Reed Lake Meadow State Natural Area, a wetlands between Reed Lake in the north and Dike 1 in the south. South of the trail is prime territory for spotting sharp-tailed grouse, who often dance here in mating displays from late March through May.
g Reed Lake Trail – From Reed Lake Road east of North Refuge Road Road, take the jeep trail south to the parking lot on the northshore of Reed Lake; walk the out-and-back trail back to Reed Lake Road. A pine-oak forest sits to the trail’s west while a sand blow with dunes is to the east.
g Phantom Trail – On East Refuge Road, take the jeep trail going west, just before reaching Lundquist Road. The out-and-back skirts a wetlands before reaching the southeast edge of Phantom Lake, which at 2000 acres is the largest waterbody at Crex Meadows.
g Upper Phantom Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail – Day hikers can walk across what once the bottom of an Ice Age lake and now is a rare, vanishing ecosystem. The longest trail at the wildlife area reserved solely for walking (or cross country skiing in winter) actually is a 3.7-mile set of three loops with two stems linking it to parking areas.
g YCC Hiking Trail – The trail loops through the Rest Area Flowage north of Reisinger Lake. An observation platform at the loop’s southwest end looks out onto lake and the Crex Meadows State Wildlife Refuge. Park at the rest area on North Refuge Road east of Currey Road.

Read more about day hiking Crex Meadows in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking Crex Meadows Wildlife Area guidebook.