Monday, November 10, 2014

Great vista awaits day hikers on Wisconsin’s Stoney Hill Nature Trail

Rapids on Bois Brule River. Photo courtesy of

Route leads
to overlook of
scenic river valley

This short loop trail offers fantastic views of northern Wisconsin’s Brule River Valley.

The Stoney Hill Nature Trail runs 1.7-miles in the Brule River State Forest. If staying overnight at the Bois Brule Campground, the sunrise seen from atop Stoney Hill definitely is worth getting up early for.

River of Presidents
To reach the trailhead, from Iron River take U.S. Hwy. 2 west about six miles past Brule. Turn left/south onto Ranger Road, following it for a little more than a mile to the ranger station on the banks of the Bois Brule River. Parking is available at the station. From there, take the connector heading south to the nature trail.

As the river sits at about 950 feet elevation near the station, you’ll have some climbing to do to reach the top of Stoney Hill. Parts of the trail will be steep.

One of the country’s best coldwater trout streams, the Bois Brule also is a favorite of paddlers. Salmon can be found in the river, which from wetlands near Upper St. Croix Lake meanders for 44 miles to Lake Superior and drops 328 feet along the way.

The Bois Brule for many years was popular with outdoors-minded U.S. presidents. Privately-owned Cedar Island Lodge hosted five U.S. presidents – Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower – with Coolidge spending the summer of 1928 there. Because of this, the Bois Brule has been nicknamed the “River of Presidents.”

Stoney Hill overlook
Interpretive signs along the nature trail describe the various trees found in the state forest. A variety of hardwoods, including oak, can be seen, and part of the trailheads through a pine plantation.

The top of Stoney Hill is at 1181 feet elevation and today hosts a radio tower and overlook. From the summit are good views of the Bois Brule River with its Little Joe Rapids to the west and Doodlebug Rapids to the north, Hoodoo Lake to the south, and the Little Bois Brule River to the east.

Though pets are allowed in the state forest, they cannot be taken on this trail.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.