Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day hike heads along Northwoods river past logging camp

Interfalls Lake and beach on way to Logging Camp Trail.

Pattison park trail
runs 4.7 miles

The remains of a historic logging camp await day hikers on a popular trail in Wisconsin’s Pattison State Park.

The 4.7-mile Logging Camp Trail runs up and down wooded hills and along the Black River. Autumn marks a great tune to hike the trail as the northern hardwood trees will be alive with color while the bug population will be nil in the bogs.

To reach the park, from Superior, Wis., travel south on Wis. Hwy. 35. The highway splits the park in two sections; parking is available in the section of Pattison east of Hwy. 35.

From the main lot, walk southwest toward the beach on Interfalls Lake. Pick up Beaver Slide Nature Trail that heads along the lake’s east side.

In about 0.27 miles, the trail splits. Go left/southeast onto Logging Camp Trail.

Scenic summit
The first portion of the trail is a stem leading to the loop. The stem rises steeply through a woods for about 0.27 miles to an overlook of Beaver Slide Trail’s footbridge over the Black River. A bench is there, making this a good rest spot.

At the summit, the trail passes through an upland hardwoods forest. Bunchberries, ferns, wild rose and sarsaparalla grow beneath tree canopy.

The trail then gradually descends to the Black River, crossing a fairly boggy area. Black ash, red maple, yellow birch and alder grow in the lowland boreal forest. Footbridges head over bogs at some points along trail, which soon heads northwest and parallels the river.

The Black River rises out of Black Lake on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, and meanders its way through the park until flowing into the Nemadji River to the north. Alongside the Logging Camp Trail, the river is shallow and rocky; at some spots during autumn, hikers even can walk across the rocks, though they will be slick and so this is unadvisable for younger children.

Along the way, the trail passes a connector that shortens the hike by not quite a mile.

Martin Pattison
Take the connector trail, though, and you'll miss the site of the historic Martin Pattison lumber camp. For three years in the 1880s, Pattison and his crew logged along this section of the Black River. Pattison – the park’s namesake – later was instrumental in saving the park’s Big Manitou Falls from destruction by secretly purchasing land to prevent construction of a dam for generating electricity.

In short order, the trail makes a hairpin turn to the northeast. Along the curve is a spur trail that leads to three backpack campsites. Little Manitou Falls can be enjoyed from the campsites, but you'll get a better, up close and personal view by taking the Little Manitou Falls Hiking Trail that is across the river.

Upon passing a trail shelter, you’ve almost completed the curve, and the forest turns back to stands of mixed hardwoods.

The trail then angles away from the Black River, reaching the other end of the previously passed connector trail and then the stem. Go left/north onto the stem and back onto Beaver Slide Nature Trail to the beach and parking lot.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.