Monday, July 14, 2014

Classic Northwoods experiences found on Sawyer County, Wis., trails

Remnants of the old Pacwawong logging dam create a ledge in the
Namekagon River. Photo courtesy of St. Croix National Scenic
Riverway NPS.
Lakes abundant with wildlife, a historic portage route, and classic Northwoods forests await day hikers on the west side of Wisconsin’s Sawyer County.

Among the most popular of Wisconsin Northwoods counties to visit, the county can best be reached from U.S. Hwy. 63, which cuts through the northwest corner along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Some of the great day hiking trails on the county’s west side include:
g Blue and Orange trails – Among the Northwoods’ newest hiking trails can be found at the Town of Hayward Recreational Forest. Combining the rec forest’s Blue and Orange trails into a 1.6-mile walk takes you through a woods past a wetland and then a scenic lake where wildlife is abundant.
g Kissick Swamp Wildlife Area North Trail – Park at the Kissick Swamp Wildlife Area lot on the south side of West Chippnazie Lake Road, west of the intersection with Company Lake Road. A trail winds for about a half-mile one-way (1-mile round trip) through woodlands on the wildlife area’s north side.
g Namekagon-Laccourt Oreilles Portage Trail – The 0.8-mile loop memorializes a famous 18th century route where fur traders and explorers carried their canoes between rivers, hikers will head through a landscape much changed from that day. To reach the trailhead, from Rainbow Road turn right/north onto Rolf Road; upon entering the scenic riverway, take the first left/west. A parking lot will be on the right.
g Pacwawong Lake Trail – Less a walking path than a jeep trail for boat ramp access to Pacwawong Lake in the scenic riverway, this 0.4-mile round trip is remote enough that there won’t be much if any traffic. From Cable Sunset/Totalatic Road, head south on Mossback Road, taking the first left/east; park in the gravel lot at the boat ramp and walk back to the road.
g Timber Lawn Trail – The 1.2-mile round trip southwest of Hayward runs through woods to an overlook of the Namekagon’s north shore in the scenic riverway. From Old 24/Nursery Road (which parallels Hwy. 63), take Timber Lawn Road south until it becomes a jeep trail, where you can park. You can extend the trail by making a loop from the overlook via the jeep trail that heads north back to your vehicle.
g Totagatic River State Wildlife Area Jeep Trail – Park in the lot on the west side of Wis. Hwy. 27 across from Dam Road. A jeep trail heads through forested area along the northwest side of Totagatic Flowage for about a mile one-way (2-miles round trip).

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