Sunday, July 6, 2014

Old railbed turned hiking trail passes farms, lakes, forestland

Tuscobia State Trail near Couderay. Photo courtesy

Tuscobia State Trail heads through Sawyer County

Among the premier hiking routes in Wisconsin’s Sawyer County is the Tuscobia State Trail.

Running past farmland, through quaint villages, and across thick forests, the trail begins southwest of Sawyer County in Rice Lake and runs 74 miles northeast to Park Falls. It follows an abandoned railroad grade converted to a hiking and multi-use trail.

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 use and eventually ended operations altogether. Bridges over some waterways were removed in 1967, and the following year locals across the region began a long effort to convert it to a hiking trail.

Hiking the trail anytime in summer and autumn will prove enjoyable. Note that the trail closes Nov. 15-Dec. 15 for deer hunting season. Also, ATVs can use the trail from Birchwood to Park Falls April 15-Nov. 15.

The trail can be hiked in segments, with each one treated as an out-and-back trail. Among the Sawyer County trailheads (from west to east) are:

East of town, the trail runs alongside the Couderay River. Access the trail where it crosses Valesh Road south of Wis. Hwy. 70.

The trail passes the Radisson Flowage on the Chippewa River east of town; west of Radisson, it rambles alongside the Couderay River. The trail can be picked up where it crosses either Hwy. 40 or Ogden Avenue in the block south of Hwy. 70 (aka as Omaha Street).

Ojibwa Park
The Tuscobia runs through a forested area on either side of the park. Ojibwa Park is off of Hwy. 70 east of Radisson; from the parking lot, take the stem trail south to the Tuscobia.

Going east of town on the trail takes you close to the north shore of 676-acre Lake Winter and over the Brunet River. Pick up the trail in Winter where it crosses Park Street, Main Street, or Crawford Street within a block south of Hwy. 70.

East of town, the trail runs through a densely wooded area and enters the Flambeau River State Forest. Access the trail anywhere in Draper, as it runs alongside Hwy. 70 through town.

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